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Guy Fieri picks fry bread to represent the Arizona Cardinals in new NFL T-shirt collection

Coverage of tribal natural resources is supported in part by Catena Foundation

The Arizona Cardinals are arguably one of the worst teams in the league, with a 1-7 record so far this season after dropping 31-24 to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.

But it hasn’t always been bad. Six post-season playoffs. Three division titles. One National Football Conference championship. Even a Super Bowl appearance against the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2009.

The team is primed to get a top draft pick next year. Despite decades of ups and downs, Cards fans have remained loyal to the franchise since 1988.

“America has made their voice heard, and it's official: I, Guy Fieri, am now football’s director of flavor and fashion,” said Guy Fieri during a press conference last month. “And to be honest with you folks, I know a little bit about both.”

The self-proclaimed Mayor of Flavortown has launched a new apparel line in collaboration with Homage, an Ohio-based vintage clothing company. It celebrates each franchise in the National Football League.

“That’s right, 32 NFL teams, 32 local foods,” Fieri added, “on 32 tees with graphics so good you can almost taste them.”

And the Arizona Cardinals’ design pays homage to this Valley team and an iconic Indigenous dish. “Apaches make it. Navajos make it. Tohono O’odhams make it. There’s just different varieties. Different people have different recipes,” according to Richard Perry.

He’s talking about fry bread.

His late mother, Cecilia Miller, a member of the Tohono O’odham Nation, founded the James Beard Award-winning Fry Bread House on Seventh Avenue in Phoenix in 1992.

Her business earned its James Beard Award in the America’s Classics category two decades after opening its doors. More recently, it’s been named as this year’s “ best authentic Arizona restaurant” by the Phoenix News Times.

“She really wanted to refine her fry bread so it looked appealing, and that’s what you need to do in a business sense,” Perry added. “It’s got to look attractive, inviting and delicious.”

It’s the only uniquely Indigenous cuisine featured in Fieri’s entire collection.

“It’s amazing that fry bread is getting this type of exposure,” said general manager Nate Myres while looking at the design during a recent restaurant visit.

And it surprised him, much like bumping into Fieri while catering for Super Bowl LVII at the State Farm Stadium in Glendale last February. “He had his big tailgate on one end, but we were behind the stage,” Myres added.

Months later, Fieri coincidentally branded fry bread for the Cards tee with Homage in September — even if he’s never stepped inside the Fry Bread House for himself.

“We’ve been trying to twist his arm,” Myres admitted. “He sees the bread at least, so hopefully he sees us and hears about this and he’ll give us a shot.”

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Gabriel Pietrorazio is a correspondent who reports on tribal natural resources for KJZZ.