Searching for Dan Dierdorf

By Michael Wilbon
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, January 31, 2009; 8:32 PM

TAMPA -- There was a reason why people looking for Dan Dierdorf couldn't find him at Super Bowl XLIII.

He isn't here.

Dierdorf, a Hall of Fame lineman for the Cardinals, is on a yacht in the British West Indies on the eve of his former team's first trip to the Super Bowl and first league championship appearance since 1947. More than a year ago, Dierdorf planned this adventure. "Silly me. I didn't take into account that the Cardinals would be in the Super Bowl," Dierdorf said by phone.

That doesn't mean the greatest lineman in Cardinals history (from St. Louis 1971 to 1983) won't see the game. "We've got Cardinals jerseys and we will see the game," he said. "I'm happy, very happy for the Bidwills [who have owned the franchise since 1932]. And I'm happy for all Cardinals alums.

"I no longer have to hear how long it has been since the Cardinals won a playoff game or played in a championship game. The Cardinals are no longer on the list."

Asked his reaction to the Cardinals advance through the playoffs after decades of mostly failure, Dierdorf said, "When they won their first playoff game, against Atlanta, I was taken aback at how much that game meant to me. I didn't think I'd care as much as I do. To be frank, I'm a little shocked at how much it means to me."

Dierdorf, like many with roots in St. Louis, noted that resentment over the team leaving for Arizona in the late 1980s has lessened, and that the city's football fans are rooting for the Cardinals mostly because they're quarterbacked by Kurt Warner, who the St. Louis Rams to a Super Bowl victory in 1999.

"Kurt Warner," Dierdorf said, "has tens of thousands of people who will always appreciate his time here. I cannot put into words how immensely popular Kurt is in St. Louis. He's the real deal. He's a ferocious competitor. He'll chew your leg off to win a football game. What makes for a better story than the comeback of a great player who for several years was bordering on becoming irrelevant?"

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