Coach takes pressure in stride

TAMPA, Fla. --- Ken Whisenhunt has been to this circus before, just never as the ringleader.

 

With thousands of "journalists" swarming the south sideline at Raymond James Stadium for Super Bowl XLIII Media Day, the Arizona Cardinals head coach seemed largely unaffected by the commotion that America's largest sporting event kicks up.


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That the Richmond Academy graduate has experienced this before -- as a Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator three years ago -- kept him cool under the intense morning sun and media glare.

"To be here is a lot of fun, but there is a lot more that goes with this than being an assistant coach and just worrying about one side of the ball," Mr. Whisenhunt said. "I am very fortunate to have been here as an assistant coach. I know some of the things that we did that week that helped us be successful, and we are going to try to do some of the same things."

The contrast between the long-suffering NFL club -- the Cardinals haven't won a championship since 1947 -- and its most successful modern franchise was on display during the two separate interview sessions Tuesday.

The large crowd that grilled the Cardinals players in the morning easily doubled by high noon when the five-time Super Bowl champion Steelers took the stage.

After six seasons as an apprentice in Pittsburgh, Mr. Whisenhunt knows where his unheralded club stands in the eyes of the nation and the bookies heading into Sunday's showdown.

"Pittsburgh has been here before, they have won this game, and they have a lot of veteran players," he said. "I can understand why people are (predicting them to win). We have been the underdog in every one of our playoff games. It has served us well, so I don't have any problem with it."

Reach Scott Michaux at (706) 823-3219 or scott.michaux@augustachronicle.com.