Boldin not happy as unused late option

Updated: January 19, 2009, 9:59 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Arizona Cardinals used only one receiver on nine of their final 14 plays in the NFC Championship Game. Anquan Boldin was not that receiver.

Boldin wasn't too happy with being minimized in the fourth quarter of Arizona's 32-25 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles that clinched the franchise's first Super Bowl berth. Late in the game, cameras showed Boldin arguing with offensive coordinator Todd Haley.

"I was not given any explanation why I was taken out," Boldin said Monday, during an interview on ESPN's "NFL Live," when asked what led to the sideline confrontation. "Like any competitor I wanted to know why."

Asked if he had any issues with Haley, Boldin said, "Not a problem at all. I'm committed to this team ... one goal in mind ... to win the Super Bowl. That's why I came back early from the facial injury. You don't get this opportunity all the time."

Boldin sat out last week's playoff game against Carolina with a strained hamstring that he suffered in Arizona's 30-24 wild-card victory over Atlanta on Jan. 3. Asked Monday what he was told on the sideline, Boldin said, "They said I was not in position to run like they wanted me to. I felt fine the entire game."

Asked about the different formations, Haley told The Arizona Republic: "We changed personnel groups out there and I put Steve Breaston in for [Boldin]," Haley said, "and he was upset about it."

Once the game ended, Boldin, a four-time Pro Bowl selection, left the field quickly without celebrating. According to one postgame account, which he disputed, Boldin was seen leaving the locker room via a back door.

"I didn't leave through a back door. I tried to get in and out as quickly as possible to beat the media," he said. "I didn't want the story line to be me and Todd getting into it."

Eagles-Cardinals highlights

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The Arizona Cardinals defeat the Philadelphia Eagles 32-25 in the NFC Championship Game.

In the locker room, Haley dismissed their sideline interaction as part of the game. Haley described himself as emotional.

"Just the emotions of the game," he said. "We're emotional guys. Like I said, I wear my heart on my sleeve and that's the way I go about business and I have to deal with that on a full-time basis."

Third-string quarterback Brian St. Pierre, who was standing near the argument, said "It was a heat of the moment thing. The fourth quarter of the NFC Championship Game and we were trying to win the game. Q wanted to be out there. It was a personnel package, there was no message being sent. You know big-time players want to be in the game at all times."

Cameras also showed Haley and quarterback Kurt Warner in heated conversation, but Warner and Haley have a strong history.

Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt brushed off the Boldin-Haley dispute.

"That's a normal thing that happens," Whisenhunt said Monday. "It happened in the first quarter with Todd and Kurt on the sidelines. It happened with a couple of our defensive players and our defensive coaches. It's an emotional game. Yesterday was one of the most emotional you'll play in."

Boldin has been playing all season despite a simmering contract dispute.

In training camp, he accused the Cardinals' management of lying to him by promising a new deal and not following through. He said at the time, and repeated later, that he would never re-sign with the Cardinals. He requested a trade in August, saying he didn't feel his situation could be resolved and declaring he has no relationship with Whisenhunt.

Asked if going to the Super Bowl would change his mind about not re-signing, Boldin said, "Next question."

Boldin said he would not let the contract issue affect his play, and he lived up to his word with 89 catches for 1,038 yards and 11 touchdowns in the regular season despite missing four games with injuries.

He has two years left on a $22.75 million contract he signed after the 2005 season.

Information from ESPN.com's Mike Sando and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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