Cardinals still a mystery to much of North America
It's difficult to fault the NFL and its TV partners for treating the Cardinals like second-class citizens in programming terms, since they have earned that status many times over.
Now, though, the league and NBC are in the position of relying on the Cards as a featured attraction in the most viewed, most lucrative event of the TV year.
It's a little strange, but the network's lead voice made no apologies for the situation in a conference call to preview SBXLIII:
"Look at the history of the team," Al Michaels said. "They haven't had very many winning seasons. They haven't had a lot of success. So when you make the schedule up before the season, you aren't looking at the Arizona Cardinals.
"I guarantee you one thing, they'll be on Sunday Night next year, you can rest assured."
Analyst John Madden also was a realist, saying, "People ask if this is a good thing for NBC. It doesn't make a difference. The teams that play the best at this time earn the right to play in the Super Bowl, and both of these teams earned that right."
The official spin is that the Cardinals' are fresh, relatively unknown faces with "a tremendous air of mystery," as Michaels put it, and that that will draw some viewers.
Madden and Michaels did not work a Cardinals game this season, but Michaels is unconcerned. The last time he was in such a position was after the 1999 season, when he called the memorable Rams-Titans Super Bowl.
The Rams had come out of nowhere and thus were national TV afterthoughts.
"We went into that Super Bowl without having done either team that year, and that was a great Super Bowl," he said.