Former Arizona Cardinals defensive lineman Calais Campbell, who signed a deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars earlier this month, recently thanked fans for their support in a story on The Players’ Tribune.
His story, titled “Thank you, Arizona,” talks about his time in Arizona and his memories of being with the Cardinals.
He wrote that “it was really never difficult for me to feel passionate about playing for the Arizona Cardinals. In fact, I think it was destiny.”
Campbell had been in Arizona since being drafted by the Cardinals in 2008. He was among the longest-tenured pro athletes in Arizona sports before signing with the Jaguars.
He was a two-time Pro Bowl player in nine seasons with the Cardinals and had eight sacks and three fumble recoveries last season.
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Some highlights from the story:
Campbell on the scene returning home from his team’s loss in the Super Bowl: “The flight back to Arizona wasn’t fun. Nobody was really talking, we all just felt emotionally and physically exhausted. We all knew that in the most important game of our lives, we had fallen just short. But when the plane landed and we started pulling up to the gate, we saw something amazing. Fans. Thousands of them. They were all waiting there, cheering for us — screaming and clapping for their team … which had just lost the biggest game of the year. It was unbelievable. All these people — who had to be hurting just as bad as we were — had come out in droves to show that they were still proud of us. For the first time since the game had ended, I actually smiled. A lot of guys did. That showed me everything I ever needed to know about Cardinals fans. It was a gesture that fueled my desire to do everything I could to help this become a winning football franchise. I knew that that was what the people who showed up at the airport that day deserved.”
Campbell on his examples: “Of course Larry (Fitzgerald) wasn’t the only person who set a good example for me. Our defense had so many leaders. That first year, I had guys like Darnell Dockett, Karlos Dansby and Adrian Wilson showing me what it meant to be a presence in the locker room. What I was saying before about keeping up the intensity level and infusing your game with passion? I learned that from them.”
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Campbell on the foundation he helped set: “Over the years, we danced a lot and we won a lot — just about more than any other team in franchise history. We created a foundation of excellence. That’s something I’ll always take tremendous pride in.”
Campbell on his time in Arizona: “As I reflect on my time here, I’m most grateful for the many connections I’ve made off the field. I’ve spoken a lot about how much of myself I’ve given to the franchise, but it truly pales in comparison to what I got back in return. This place was much more than simply where I worked. It was home, in every sense of the word. And I’m going to miss the many friendships I made here.”
Campbell on the memories he made in Arizona: “Nine years is a long time. That’s a lot of hikes up Camelback Mountain and double orders at Lo-Lo’s Chicken & Waffles. I wish so badly that I could have helped bring Arizona the Super Bowl title it deserves, but I’m still proud of every second I spent here. I’m a much better person for it. There were a lot of places where I could have started my career, but I’m so glad I found my way to the desert. I’m never going to forget where I lost my voice. And also found it.”
You can read Campbell’s entire story here.
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