On a microscopic level, the game of football is played for many reasons. The NFL grants the opportunity for players to live out their dreams, chasing Super Bowls, Hall of Fame honors and for many guys, a chance to begin to build generational wealth for those who will come after them.
On a larger scale, however, football is played for the fans who will follow their team until their very last breath. A pandemic season simply wasn't the same in any aspect, and the Arizona Cardinals were more than happy to see fans back at State Farm Stadium for the first time in two seasons.
Cardinals tight end Maxx Williams was elated for fans to return:
"Oh, it was loud in there today! It was weird just having noise, (we went) like a whole year without actually having to worry about hearing something. It was great, it seemed like the fans were having a good time. Music was playing, we finally had a good energy feel," said Williams on Saturday after practice.
"The whole year, the whole league just seemed off with no fans and the uncertainty of what was going on. The commissioner I just read today said their No. 1 goal was to have fans in the stadium throughout the whole league. That's awesome to hear, they're just bringing new energy to the game on game day. Home games with our fans and even going on the road to those loud stadiums like Seattle, just that energy of everything bearing down makes the game that much more exciting and fun to have them out there cheering."
"It's amazing" said Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury, who caught up with NFL Network following the league-wide Back Together Saturday. "The energy they bring to practice, to our guys, it's been fantastic. Obviously, it's great to see them again."
Before the practice, Kingsbury addressed fans in attendance:
"Man, it's good to see you guys again," said Kingsbury to open his comments. "I'm telling you, without the Red Sea in here it just wasn't the same last year."
For Arizona's first public practice on Friday, players were able to speak to having some seats filled for the first time since 2019.
Cardinals linebacker Devon Kennard on how special it was to have fans at training camp: “That’s really cool. For me, it’s the first time playing at home — later in the year some family got to go the game, but I didn’t get to really feel like that,“ said Kennard.
"Even just seeing the fans, there were fans yelling out my name. I got to say hello to random people that knew who I was from being out here. Those were things I was looking forward to last year that I didn’t get to experience.”
That experiences stretches to face of the franchise quarterback Kyler Murray.
"It’s good to have the fans here, it felt normal,” Murray said. “Having a year without the fans is definitely tough, it’s weird. I think the team, we got closer because we had to bring our own juice, be there for each other and grind together through a weird situation, a different time. But now having the fans back for today — hopefully we keep going forward with this thing, but it was definitely good to have them back.”