The Arizona Cardinals selected Dansby with the first pick of the second round (33rd overall) in the 2004 NFL Draft and he was a mainstay of their defense for six seasons. In each of his final two seasons in Arizona the team reached the playoffs, making it all the way to Super Bowl XLIII at the end of the 2008 season, so he is not hiding his emotions.
“It’s going to be exciting and it’s going to be like a homecoming,” Dansby said. “The organization was great to me and I had a great time. They blessed me in a way to where I can never repay them enough. The only way I can repay them is to continue to be a great pro.”
Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt still holds a lot of respect for Dansby and the role he played in helping to turn around the franchise.
“He was a very important part of what we did,” Whisenhunt said. “He contributed significantly to us being a good football team in the playoffs and getting to the Super Bowl, and I’ll always be grateful for what he gave us. It was disappointing that we weren’t able to keep him here, but I’m happy for him. He’s a very good football player. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him.”
Arizona defensive end Calais Campbell played two seasons with Dansby and looked up to him as a leader on the team as well as being an all-around middle linebacker. The two went to the Super Bowl together and created some playoff memories.
Cardinals fans will always remember Dansby’s signature play in what ended up being his last game at University of Phoenix Stadium, which was the NFC Wild Card game against the Green Bay Packers. It was in overtime on a passing play when Dansby scooped up a fumble by Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and ran untouched 17 yards into the end zone for the game-winning touchdown.
“I hope I get a nice reception because I hope I gave them some moments that they can reach back to and reflect on,” Dansby said. “That Green Bay game was a nice exit for me and I won the NFC Championship there and went to a Super Bowl there, so I gave the fans a lot of great memories and I’ve got great memories, too, that are still fresh in my mind. It’s going to be a good time to get back there and play the game and show them how much I’ve matured as a player.”
Dansby admitted he never saw the visitors locker room during his six seasons with the Cardinals so he’s expecting it to feel strange coming out onto the field from a different angle. It will also feel strange for him to see some of his good friends like Campbell, linebacker Darnell Dockett, wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and safety Adrian Wilson wearing a different uniform.
“It’s the calm before the storm right now,” said Dansby in regards to any trash talking taking place between him and his former teammates. “We did a lot of talking as soon as the schedule came out, me, Darnell, Adrian and Larry. We all had something to say about this game back then and it’s here now. I’m ready.”