Mike Tomlin; Ken Whisenhunt (Getty)
The Pittsburgh Steelers dished out a 23-14 win over the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship game. In the NFC, the Arizona Cardinals took the Philadelphia Eagles out of the equation, 32-25. A Cardinals and Steelers matchup is only fitting, as the Cardinals have created story lines all season long.
Ken Whisenhunt brought a lot of his Pittsburgh Steelers ideals with him to Arizona. From drafting defensive depth in the draft to integrating a few Steelers tricks.
As the former Steelers' offensive coordinator, Whisenhunt is happy to see his former employer in the big show.
"Absolutely," Whisenhunt said of wanting to face the Steelers. "I'm glad we're playing [in the Super Bowl], but the reason I'm here is because of my time with Pittsburgh, and I'm very grateful for that."
The Steelers' loss was the Cardinals' gain. Whisenhunt turned a losing ball club into Super Bowl contenders. Long-tenured Cardinal Adrian Wilson explains Whisenhunt's success.
“I am not surprised because obviously they have done a great job of identifying players," Wilson said. "They had a really good draft. They had guys that came in and guys that produced. Tim Hightower, DRC (Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie), Calais Campbell, Kenny Iwebema. They have a lot of guys that have come in and played, so I’m not surprised because we had a pretty good core of guys here already.”
The Cardinals' foundation was only strengthened by the draft, free agency and a coach with high goals and a humble attitude.
"I don’t know how I’m viewed by those guys," Whisenhunt said. "All I know is to try and be the type of person my mom and dad raised me to be. Like I said, I’ve had some very good mentors. I know Coach Cowher, one of his strengths was dealing with the team and how he handled those guys. I let that guide me a lot of times in different situations.”
Whisenhunt could look to the huddle to find a guide. Kurt Warner's leadership and fire for the game is unparallel. But post-game, Warner was only thinking about the novelty of the situation.
"I just want to say the words 'Arizona Cardinals' and 'Super Bowl' in the same sentence," Warner said. "I like the way that sounds."
Possible two-time Super Bowl MVP sounds pretty sweet too.