Note: This column appears in the 4/10 issue of The Glendale Star, and the 4/11 issue of the Peoria Times
Last Monday, pictures showing Cardinals’ quarterback Matt Leinart partying with some co-eds, a beer funnel, and a hot tub were discovered online. Regardless of your opinion on the matter -- those passing judgment from afar in such instances can become rather tiresome, if you ask me (which you didn’t) -- it’s pretty safe to say that these pictures did not necessarily provide the Cardinals with good press.
Last Wednesday, the offensive captain of the Arizona Cardinals was doing something a little bit different. Anquan Boldin was at Marshall Ranch Elementary School, playing basketball against some seventh and eighth graders.
This was the second year that Boldin -- widely considered one of the toughest wideouts in the league -- took part in this game, which is an event orchestrated by Marshall Ranch boy’s basketball coach, and former baller himself, Scott Shaver. Basically, Shaver recruits some Marshall Ranch alumni who have gone on to bigger and better things, and brings them back to play ball against his 7th and 8th grade team, which, by the way, is annually one of the best teams in the district. Boldin, who is not a Marshall Ranch grad, met Shaver at a couple of functions a couple years back, and was convinced to take part.
The whole school, as usual, came to watch the show. They even had a DJ. (And, as if the whole scene didn’t already bring me back to my own grammar school days, the DJ inexplicably played Bel Biv DeVoe’s “Poison.” I almost broke out the “running man.”)
One former Marshall Ranch grad who came back to play was Christian Polk, who starred at Deer Valley High School, and who recently announced he is transferring from ASU. Polk wowed the kids with his skills, and, when he came back to the bench for a quick breather, was instantly surrounded by a group of youngsters that peppered him with questions -- “What kind of grades do you get? I get A’s and B’s!” -- and autograph requests. One boy had a pen, but nothing to write on, so Polk signed his forearm. Something told me that kid wasn’t going into the shower quietly that night.
But the star of the show was most definitely Boldin. (When Polk first came to the bench, the first question asked of him was, “Do you know Anquan?”) Half of the kids in attendance were wearing their “81” Cardinals’ jerseys, and Boldin certainly didn’t disappoint. No, he came to play. A star high school basketball player himself, Boldin showed little remorse in blocking a few shots, throwing down a dunk or two, and nailing countless three-pointers. He did it all with a smile though, while the crowd called out his name, so the beat-down was easily forgiven.
The final score read 199-108 in favor of the teachers, alumni, and Boldin, and that was only because the scoreboard didn’t go past 199. (The impressive Marshall Ranch team did hold their own, though.) After the final buzzer sounded, all of the kids rushed the court and swarmed Boldin, seeking autographs and pictures. He happily obliged.
As the crowd slowly and reluctantly dispersed, Anquan Boldin sat there on the bench, changing his shoes. Struck by the contrast of the week’s events, and because he seemed like a cool guy who could take a joke, I asked him if he’d been to any parties at Matt Leinart’s house lately. He smiled (whew!) and said, “Nah, man. I don’t do that stuff anymore.
That’s not me.”
No, no it’s not. But Scott Shaver and everyone at Marshall Ranch already knew that. So, apparently, did the Arizona Cardinals.
I mean, hey, maybe that’s why he’s their captain.