Super Bowl XLIII: Cardinals Take On Steelers

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Bob Garfield, Ad Age columnist and co-host of On the Media, joins Monkey See blogger Linda Holmes for some Monday Morning pop-culture quarterbacking. The ads, the show, the malfunctions — chime in as we take apart one of the year's biggest media weekends.

NPR's Scott Simon talks with Howard Bryant about the match-up for Superbowl 43: Arizona Cardinals vs. Pittsburgh Steelers. "You've got two teams that really do know each other very well," says Bryant, who calls the game for the Steelers. Simon's rooting for the Cardinals.

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

This is Weekend Edition from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Now it's time not just for sports but the Super Bowl.

(Soundbite of music)

SIMON: Monday, the sun will rise in the east and a new champion of football will stride the Earth. But first, a game must be played. Super Bowl 43 to be exact, with the dynastic Pittsburgh Steelers face the upstart Arizona Cardinals anchored by veteran quarterback Kurt Warner. Joining us now before the battle begins, our own champion, Howard Bryant. Hello there, Howard.

HOWARD BRYANT: Hey, Scott, that was a passable John (unintelligible).

(Soundbite of laughter)

BRYANT: It was OK. He's not rolling over in his grave right now but he's thinking, give me a little bit more bass.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: A little bit? More like volume. Look, I mean, what a wonderful story. Kurt Warner, 37 years old, and you know, that's like a 109 in football years, and he's back in the Super Bowl for a second time.

BRYANT: Yeah. It's amazing when you look at Warner who played for the New York Giants and he got booed off the stage and he was on a Hall of - he was working on a forklift before making this Hall of Fame run of his when he went to the Rams. And then as high as he went, he crashed pretty much as quickly, and then he rose again with the Cardinals.

And it's fun to watch because he's one of those players that I think everybody can root for because his road wasn't easy, and he's not - we like to talk about the pampered athlete. I mean, once again, here is a person who was working. I think he was working at Home Depot, and now he's playing for the Super Bowl for the third time.

SIMON: And although the Steelers have five rings, and they're obviously one of the preeminent franchises, look, they are a great family-run organization when that's getting unusual, certainly, in sports.

BRYANT: It's almost extinct. They're one of the only ones, the Mom and Pop store of the NFL. I mean, the Rooney family goes back as far as you can go in terms of - along with the Giants, with the Mara family. I mean, that's not the same anymore, either.

So it's a great match-up. You've got so many different things that work here. Number one, you've got the dynastic Steelers. Yes, they do have five rings, and you've got the Cardinals, who are one of the great sad-sack franchises in the NFL. And they're completely - they don't have any respect in the league because even their ownner never spent any money, and so all of a sudden you have them playing for a championship. And normally, when you had one dynastic franchise going up against an upstart team, it was pretty much a guarantee for a Super Bowl blowout. But I don't think that's going happen in this game because Arizona has got a great offense. Pittsburgh's got a fantastic defense.

But it's also a family story, too, because the Cardinals were built by taking a lot of the Steeler executives when Ken Whisenhunt, who was with Pittsburgh when he got the job, he brought Pittsburgh executives over there and his coaching staff. And so, you've got two teams that really do know each other really well.

SIMON: You know, I got to go in there. A few weeks ago, I said I thought it was Arizona. Of course, the team began in Chicago years ago, so I got to go with the Cardinals. But Gary Smith, employee here who was at the front desk of NPR, the world's ranking Steeler fan, some of our listeners may remember, died a few months ago, and I got to tell you. Gary's up there calling the plays.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: And I think things are going to look very good for Pittsburgh.

BRYANT: Well, I think he's in good shape. I think the Steelers will win the game because I'll always take offense over defense, and Larry Fitzgerald, even though he's been a one-man gang, I think the Steelers are going to - when you get two weeks to game plan for one player, I think you can beat them.

SIMON: Well, I'll say Arizona by three, and we'll figure this out next week.

BRYANT: I say Pittsburgh.

SIMON: Howard Bryant, senior writer for ESPN.com the magazine and the transmission fluid. Thanks so much.

BRYANT: Thank you.

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