Kristi Brown, above, a former Arizona Cardinals cheerleader

Kristi Brown, above, a former Arizona Cardinals cheerleader, was taken with cheerleading and football after a cheerleader waved to her at age 3. Kristi was devastated after the Cardinals’ Jan. 3 loss but is still a diehard fan.

Kristi Brown has been an Arizona Cardinals fan since she was 3 years old, when she sat in the blistering heat at Sun Devil Stadium. 

There was just something she couldn’t resist about the tackles and the Hail Mary passes. She also couldn’t help but be impassioned by the cheerleaders. 

“I waved at the cheerleaders and one of them waved back,” said Brown, who lives in Peoria. “I was sold after that.”

Brown is one of six fans nominated for the Ford Hall of Fans Class of 2021. Also nominated are Pittsburgh Steelers fan Justin Laveing, Las Vegas Raiders fan Wayne Mabry, Dallas Cowboys fan Jamie O’Pelt, Cleveland Browns fan Ray Prisby and Baltimore Ravens fan Tony Roccograndi. The Ford Hall of Fans, which launched two years ago, is located at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

“All six of these superfans embody what the Ford Hall of Fans is all about—passion,” said Jim Peters, Ford U.S. brand content and alliance partnerships manager. “Even in a year as difficult and challenging as 2020, these fans continue to proudly support their teams week in and week out.”

David Baker, president and chief executive officer of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, added, “The 2020 football season presented challenges for everyone associated with the great game of football, but these ‘superfans’ found opportunities to support their favorite teams in every way possible.

“We are proud to join Ford once again in recognizing and honoring fans’ passion, commitment and devotion. We look forward to seeing the outcome of the fan vote and new members to the Ford Hall of Fans this year.”

Voting is open through Feb. 1 at The winners will be honored at the Pro Football Hall of Fame during 2021 Enshrinement Weekend in Canton, Ohio.

Brown is a second-generation season-ticket holder and devoted Cardinals training camp attendee. After her son was diagnosed with Chiari malformation, Brown has worked hard to raise awareness to help find a cure for the condition. Chiari malformation is a condition in which brain tissue extends into the spinal canal. 

Brown learned of her nomination from Cardinals legend and Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Aeneas Williams.

“I heard about the contest, but you never think you’re good enough to get to a certain point like that,” Brown said. “Just getting to show my love of my team to others is great. If I can make one person a Cardinals fan, that’s my goal.”

Brown is passionate about the game. She doesn’t paint her face or “get crazy about it.” She said she just has such a love in her heart for the team. 

“I feel like they’re a member of my family,” said Brown, a former cheerleader. “My family raised me as a Cardinals fan. I’m raising my two boys as Cardinals fans. I love the organization for what they do on and off the field. 

“When I went to the first game when I was 3 years old, I saw the cheerleaders and I was so inspired. When the cheerleader waved back at me, that’s when I decided I had to cheer. I followed my dream and auditioned a lot. I made it in 2010.”

A labor and delivery nurse, Brown is just as impressed about what the players and the organization do off the field as well. As a cheerleader, she took part in community events, so she had a behind-the-scenes look at what they did. 

“They have Play 360. They build fields for kids. Kids have to be active and follow their dreams. They’re super active with Phoenix Children’s Hospital. It’s great,” she said.

Brown’s favorite player is Larry Fitzgerald for what he does on and off the field. As a matter of fact, she named her 11-year-old Labrador retriever Larry Fitz.

“Larry Fitzgerald is the face of the team, in our opinion,” Brown said. “He encompasses everything in sports. He’s wonderful on and off the field. He’s inspirational. He gives back to the community. He’s just amazing.”

On Jan. 3, the Cardinals were defeated by the Los Angeles Rams 18-7 and lost their playoff spot. 

“I was devastated,” said the Moon Valley High School graduate. “I kept having hope. We’re a fourth-quarter team, so I kept saying, ‘OK, we’re going to come back.’ But God bless Kyler Murray. You could tell how much pain he was in. He fought to the end, though.”