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Arizona Cardinals

Updated Aug 19, 2014 - 12:31 pm

It's scary to think about what the loss of Darnell Dockett means to the Arizona Cardinals

There's nothing scientific about the process. No numbers or analytics are involved. It certainly doesn't have anything to do with high moral standards either. It's a gut-feel kind of a thing.

Just about every Cardinals season I usually end up asking myself, if I were a season-ticket holder and chose to own one jersey to wear to games on Sunday, who would I choose?

And for the better part of the last decade the answer was 9-0.

The Darnell Dockett we all see on social media can run the gamut from anywhere to funny, honest, disturbing and downright crass. He's taken shots at former teammates off the field (Karlos Dansby) and allegedly been pretty gross to them on the field (the Jets incident with Kerry Rhodes.)

But football is not always a game of grace and elegance. It's a violent proposition that takes a little bit of crazy to do it really well. And Dockett did it really, really well.

There are a handful of what I like to call "bridge guys". Cardinals like Adrian Wilson, Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, Karlos Dansby, the ones who bridged the gap from where they were to where they are. Of that group, Dockett was always my favorite.

I loved his brand of on-field nasty. The passion that permeated the play.

My colleague Dan Bickley wrote a wonderful piece about Dockett.

And Bick is right; Dockett is one of the most enduring and endearing players in the history of the Arizona Cardinals.

If this reads like an obituary, that is not my intention. Dockett is alive but not well. He has a torn ACL that will cost him his 2014 season. Given his big contract number next year -- $9.8 million -- there has been plenty of speculation that this was to be his last year with the Cards. I suppose it's possible he's played his last down with the Cards, though I'd rather not think about it.

And while we're on the topic of denial, let's ignore the desire to say everything will be OK and wonder out loud what this means for the Cardinals in 2014.

It can be soooo much fun pointing out the flaws of the 49ers (no Aldon Smith, Glenn Dorsey, NaVorro Bowman, Donte Whitner) but when you turn that spotlight onto your team it reveals similar flaws.

No Daryl Washington. No Karlos Dansby. Kevin Minter is dinged. Now Dockett is out. Patrick Peterson and Calais Campbell are great players and Todd Bowles is a rock star coordinator but that's a lot to ask.

The Niners have the Cards beat when it comes to perceived internal strife, no doubt. But if you think they're due for a step-back year it's hard not to look at the Cardinals and wonder the same thing.

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