Whisenhunt thanked the fans for showing up despite the Cardinals' defeat. Sunday's 27-23 loss to Pittsburgh in Tampa, Fla., came in Arizona's first Super Bowl appearance.
"You guys make it so special," Whisenhunt said. "Thank you for coming out and giving us this little lift as we go forward to next season and get us back to the Super Bowl again."
Quarterback Kurt Warner, who was 31-for-43 passing for 377 yards and three touchdowns, was dressed in jeans and a long-sleeve black shirt. He said that despite his obvious disappointment, he was happy with how the team played.
"I could not have been more proud of being a part of a football team, a football organization or a football community as I was this year in Arizona," Warner said.
"We love you, and we want to see you guys next year. We're going to do it again," said Fitzgerald, who caught seven passes for 127 yards and two touchdowns in the Super Bowl.
He and the rest of the team then filed into a waiting caravan of buses.
Many parents took their children out of school early or for the entire day to attend the rally.
"When they grow up, they can say, 'Hey, we watched the Super Bowl. We were there -- we saw the team get off the plane.' (It's) a tradition we want to pass onto our kids," said Veronica Moreno, 32, who brought her three daughters.
Dean Tomlinson of Surprise, Ariz., showed up early to hold a banner hailing the team as the "big red band of brothers."
"I'm afforded the chance to come out and do my little piece of the puzzle to help support them when they come home and show them they're an awesome team and we appreciate them," he said.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press