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Wednesday, January 21, 2009
'Strangers hugging, crying and celebrating'

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

You might recall the story of Ken from Los Angeles leaving work Saturday and driving to Glendale, Ariz., for the NFC Championship Game despite feeling ill. The Cardinals rewarded him and thousands more fans with their 32-25 victory over the Eagles.

With Ken's permission, I'll share what the game meant to him, in his words:

"What a game!

"This was a very emotional game for 3 generations of my family; my father and Grandfather grew up in East St. Louis and have been cheering for this team since they were youngsters. My father and I just tearily embraced each other at the game in pure elation and disbelief from decades of heartbreaks and disappointments. After the game we called my 76-year-old grandfather and he was bawling like a baby, for he never thought he would live long enough to see this happen.

"It's amazing that most do not believe that the Cardinals have a throng of people who eat, live, and breathe Cardinal football and do not get the same sympathetic treatment that Cubs or Red Sox fans received as a bunch of lovable losers. Seriously, if the Cardinals did not exist, I don't know that my father and I would have much to talk about over the phone. This team has really been a lifestyle (as funny as that sounds) for my family and we felt as if we were truly part of this victory.

"It was great to see complete strangers hugging, crying and celebrating together in the blissful moment that was the end of the game.

"This game was cathartic as much as it was surreal."

And we wondered why anyone would have rooted for the Cardinals all those years.