Old Time Team Names
Rock Island Ind.
Columbus Panhandles \
1898: Morgan Athletic Club is formed as a neighborhood football club.
1901: Team acquires use, faded maroon jerseys causing owner, Chris O' Brian to
exclaim: "That's not maroon. It's cardinal red. The Racine Cardinals were born.
1906: Club disbands due to lack of competition
1913: Club is reorganized by O' Brian
1917: Cards (with only 2 losses) win Chicago Football League Title.
1920: Racine Cardinals become one of 11 charter members of the American
Professional Football League. Franchise fee; $100. Top player: Paddy Driscoll (HB) whom O'
Brian signed for an outlandish $3,000. Driscoll became player coach.
1922: Cards move to Chicago; play at Comiskey Park.
1925: Cards (under coach Norm Berry) win first NFL title.
1929: Dr. David Jones, a Chicago physician, acquires team. Coaxes (26 year
old!!!) Ernie Nevers out of retirement. Nevers still owns NFL record of 6 TD's in one
game. (Adding in 4 extra points, Nevers scored 40 points that day).
1932: Nevers retires as player-coach. Club is acquired for $50,000 by a Chicago
Bear V.P. (who naturally divested himself of all Bear holdings). His name: Charles
1944: WWII manpower shortage forces Cards and Pittsburgh Steelers to form
a combined Card-Pitt team. Phil Handler (Cards) & Walt Kiesling (Pitt) split the
coaching duties. Team went 0 & 10.
1945: QB Paul Christman joins Cards to augment conversion to T-formation.
1946: HB Elmer Angsman and FB-K Pat Harder join Christman in Cards
1947: HB Charlie Trippi is added to what is now called The Dream
Backfield. Cards go on to beat Philadelphia 28 to 21 and win its first NFL title in 22
years. Other players of note in this game: Cardinals: Marshall "Biggie" Goldberg
(B/DB), Stan Mauldin (T), Mel Kutner (E), Billy Dewell (E) , Bill Blackburn [C], Chet
Bulger (G). Eagles: Steve Van Buren (RB), Pete Pihos (E), Tommy Thompson (QB), Joe Muha
Charles Bidwill, tragically doesn't live long enough to see
the Cardinal win. His widow, Violet Bidwill, controls the franchise for the next 15 years.
1948: Stan Mauldin (T), member of the Cards 1947 championship team dies of a heart
attack after opening day game against Eagles. Once again the Cards play for NFL title only
to lose to Eagles 7 to 0.
1960: Team moves to St. Louis.
1961: Upon Mrs. Bidwill's death, the team is jointly controlled by brothers
Charles and William V. Bidwill.
1962: Bill Bidwill assumes full control over the Cardinals.
1974: Head Coach, Don Coryell leads Cardinals to NFC East title. Lose to Vikings 30 to
14 in playoffs.
1975: Cards repeat, but lose to Rams in playoffs 35 to 23 (sparked by an
early pick in the flat for a TD by the Ram's Jack Yooungblood)
1982: Cards win reach playoffs in strike-truncated season with Jim Hanifan as head coach. Cards lose to GB in
playoffs, 41 to 16.
1988: Cards move to Arizona
Why I Became a
(a long-winded, roundabout tale)
To understand how I wound up rooting for "America's
Team _ Not!" it will be necessary to give you a feel of what football was like to a
small kid growing up in a NYC suburb in the late forties and early fifties.
Things were different in the mid-forties. We were wrapping
up WWII. The American cliché was the suburban household with husband, wife, 2 kids, a
house and a dog.
College football was a far bigger deal than the pros --
particularly the service academies, Army and Navy (there was no Air Force academy yet).
The perception of the professional football player back then was some busted up, has-been
dude who trying to pick up a few extra bucks before he got on with his life.
As a six or seven year old growing up in the forties, my
earliest recollections included:
The smell of burning leaves (there were few if any
pollution laws), roasted peanuts and candy or caramel apples.
A Leather Football (called "The Duke")
The Single Wing (particularly the buck lateral series)
And Thanksgiving. Our high school football
team in Scarsdale, NY didn't play on Thanksgiving back then. So family and
friends would leave our homes, hop into our family jalopies and head on over
to White Plains (NY) High School to "watch the pros play." This was because
White Plains (coached by legendary Glenn Loucks) was so good that no other
school in the county would play them. They'd have to reach out to distant
schools like Rome (NY) Free Academy or Miami (FL) High to line up
competitive games each year. Mr. Loucks (nicknamed the "Great White Father"
because he also owned and ran Mohawk Day Camp in the summer) used to hire a
bunch of his football players to work at the camp. Legend had it that the
players would all arrive 2 hours before camp opened each morning to
participate in conditioning/drills. (If true, no wonder White Plains was so
White Plains and New Rochelle HS were the
only two schools in suburban Westchester County with sizable Afro American
populations. Their lineups were dotted with players who had colorful names
like Tyrone Holmes, T-Bone Lee and Chuck Young. And they were rumored to
have "ringers. "They had this one guy (Harry Jefferson) who was rumored to
be married and the father of 2 children. (Instead of the traditional
lame football cheers we had in lily white Scarsdale - , like "push 'em
back..." or "fight team fight" -White Plains had cool "call & response"
cheers like "Satisfied!"
One other thing occurred to me. I don't know
where to put it so I'll bring it up here. No one wore face-masks back then
(except for one or two players who did so for medical reasons). This had a
dramatic impact on blocking and tackling techniques (and what each player
would be willing to do). Only the cave-men among us were willing to stick
their heads in there and risk a broken nose, broken tooth or facial gash, so
the current practice of "leading with your helmet" just didn't exist back
then (at least among the saner among us).
Because college football dominated, Saturday not Sunday was
the huge football day of the week. I vividly remember suffering through a litany of
Saturday afternoon childrens' radio shows on the radio; among them: Long Long Ago, Let's
Pretend and the Hartz Mountain Singing Canaries (who warbled to Strauss waltzes and other
light classical and pops tunes & ultimately drove me to Rock 'n Roll).
Finally, around 1 or 2pm, we'd get Army Football on the
radio, where Blanchard & Davis (Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside) reigned supreme, aided and
abetted by Army legends like QB Arnie Galiffa and E Hank Foldberg. They played such
legends as Notre Dame's Johnny Lujack, beating them 59 to 0 in 1944 and 49 to 0 in
1945 before having their 25 game winning streak stopped by the Fighting Irish in an epic 0
to 0 tie in 1946. But Army's true Waterloo was at Baker field on Oct. 25., 1947 vs. Lou
Little's lowly rated Columbia University Lions, when Gene Rossides threw a
last minute Hail Mary pass to E Bill Swiacki who made a diving catch, barely hanging onto the point of
the football to bring Columbia back from a 20 to 7 deficit by setting up a 3 yard Lou
Kusserow TD run to upset The Black Knights of the Hudson 21 to 20. Ventan Yablonski kicked
the winning extra point. Army's Rip Rowan returned a kick 83 yards for a TD earlier in the
game. (I can still picture in my mind, that black & white photo in LIFE
magazine of Swiaki's amazing catch).
The Cadets looked super cool in their Black Gray and Gold
uniforms. Ask Al Davis - The Army uniforms were the inspiration for the colors of the
Oakland Raidiz. There were other West Point football heros after Blanchard & Davis.
The names roll off the tongue: Rip Rowan. Bobby Jack Stewart, Bill (The Lonely End)
Carpenter and (Coach Earl "Red" Blaik's son) Bobby Blaik - who was caught up in
the West Point cribbing (i.e. cheating) scandal that rivalled the Black Sox and college
point shaving misdeeds. Because my brother and uncle went to Yale, Ivy League football
with all its pomp and circumstance (including those souvenir metal buttons with a plastic
football hanging from their ribbons) was big in our family, and a real treat for us kids
was the trek up the Merritt Parkway to Yale Bowl and over to Jersey and Palmer Stadium.
Although the T-formation had (with the exception of the
Steelers) become the system of choice for every NFL team, there were still single wing
powerhouses in college football. Each featured a triple-threat (run, pass, kick) tailback.
There was Paul Cameron at UCLA, Hank Lauricella at Tennesee, George Cella & Dick
Kazmeier at Princeton, Paul Giel at Minnesota and (I think it was) Jim Sears at USC.
Having played in a single wing system, I used to root for these teams regardless of their
opponents. I even rooted for the hated Princeton over Yale.
(Note to this day. I wait eagerly each
Thanksgiving for Michigan Upper Peninsula high school - Menominee - to reach
the Division 5 Finals so I can see the Single Wing in action on Fox Sports
Detroit. Menominee, fortunately, has been good enough the past 2 or 3 years,
to win the division title and steamroll its division playoff opponent).
During the late forties and early fifties, there were 2 1/2
professional leagues. Locally, the NY Bulldogs and the Boston Yanks played in the NFL. The
NY Yankees (led by pint-sized scatback Buddy Young and HB Spec Sanders and lineman Arnie
Weinmeister) and the Cleveland Browns (with Otto Graham, Marion Motley, Dante Lavelli, Mac
Speedie and Lou "The Toe" Groza) played in the All American Conference. And
there was a third league that didn't amount to much which had a team called the Brooklyn
Dodgers (I remember Dodgers, Sonny Grandelius and Bob Chappius). Even before the various
leagues merged, there was no question that the Browns ruled - that was until the Detroit
Lions, led by QB Bobby Layne, E Cloyce Box and the first 300 pound lineman, Les Binghamen
whupped the Brownies.
My involvement with the Cardinals was gradual - asking my
father "Did the Cardinals win?" before I knew how to read. Since the Cards went
0 & 10 in 1943 and again in 1944, the answer was easy and predictable. By 1945, I had
learned how to read and could find out the Cards lost all by myself. (They went 1 & 9
that year). Things got better in 1946 and the Cards played for the NFL Championship in
1947 and 1948. By then, my folks had succumbed to my incessant pestering and obtained a 10
inch floor-model b & w TV which harbored a family of mice underneath the set. Because
the Cardinal uniforms looked black on our TV and Sonny (the Cardinal redbird head) hadn't
been added to the white helmet, this team - in one color - looked exactly like my favorite
college team - The Black Knights of the Hudson.
I watched both championship games on that TV - the first
was played on the frozen tundra of Comiskey Park. The Cards won 28 to 21. Charley Trippi
scored 2 TD's - one on a 44 yard run from scrimmage and the other on a 77 yard broken
field punt return. The other Cardinal hero on offense was Elmer Angsman, who scored twice
on runs of 70 yards each - he wound up with 159 rushing yards.
How then could I not then become a Cardinal fan for life?
Who knew I would suffer through losing season after losing season? How could I fathom the
Cards blowing a win against the hated Bears on Dec. 14, 1952 when Billy Cross fielding a
punt on the last play of the half tripped backwards into the endzone for a safety? How
could I know that the Cards would trade star halfback, Ollie Matson for 11 (mostly used
up) LA Ram players? How could I even conceive that, because of their ineptness -
highlighted by a Monday night 20 - 20 tie vs. the Giants on October 24, 1983 (when our
poor excuse of a kicker, Neil O Donaghue blew 3 FG's vs. the Giants in what was termed the
biggest Monday Night Stinker of All Time"), the Cardinals would be kept away from
future Monday night games whenever possible? How could I predict that my team would
squander first round picks on George Izo, Larry Stegent, Norman Thompson, Tim Gray, Steve
Piczarkiewicz, Steve Little, Clyde Duncan, Anthony Bell & Kelly Stouffer? How, in my
wildest dreams could I know that the Chicago Cards would move to St. Louis and then
But then again, I couldn't have known that there would be a
John David Crow, Johnny Roland, OJ Anderson, Stump Mitchell, Larry Centers, Night Train
Lane, Roger Wehrli, Larry Wilson, Jim Hart, Neil Lomax, Mel Gray, Roy Green, Eric Swann,
Aeneus Williams and Simeon Rice either.
There were other mileposts along the way. By the early
sixties, the NFL had gained momentum and the Giants became a hot ticket in NYC. In 1963, I
called the Giant ticket office to obtain a single-game ticket to (what else?) the
Cardinal-Giant game when the lady on the phone asked: "Would you like season
tickets?" A quick call to the source of all serious money - my father - followed by a
whirlwind cab ride to the Giant ticket office at Columbus Circle and, vioila! We had Giant
season tickets (which ultimately proved more valuable than entire inheritances).
My dad, brother Jim and one of various family friends &
I would meet at the Madison Delicatessin at 10am on Game Day. After a humongous breakfast
of salami & eggs, lox & bagels and barley soup, we would have the deli make up a
care package of roast beef hero sandwiches, potato salad and sour pickels & at noon,
we'd board the Lexington #6 subway train for Yankee Stadium and the Giant game. My father
and brother became staunch Giant rooters. I remained loyal to the Cardinals. I got to see
Charley Conerly, YA Tittle, Del Shofner, Homer Jones, Andy Robustelli, Jim Katcavage, Dick
Modelewski, Sam Huff, Rosey Grier, Erich Barnes & Dick Lynch. I saw Jimmy Brown run
rings around Giant defenders. (I saw Sonny Randle catch 16 straight from Charley Johnson
over all pro CB , Dick Lynch). As a Johns Hopkins U (Baltimore) undergrad (& Giant
hater anyway) I watched "The Greatest FB Game Ever Played" between the Giants
and the Baltimore Colts (led by Johnny Unitas, with Raymond Berry, Lenny Moore, Jim Parker
& Big Daddy Lipscomb) & saw Alan Ameche score the winning TD.
Later, I was to call my father about the Giant tix only to
discover that he had committed an unpardonable sin - he gave up the season tickets. (His
reason:"I didn't think you still wanted to go the Giant games) But several years
later, lightning struck a second time. By now, the Giants (who had moved out of Yankee
Stadium & played an entire season at Yale Bowl) moved to the Meadowlands & several
thousand additional season tickets were offered for sale. After one year on the waiting
list, I was once again a Giant season ticket holder. But only so I could see the Cardinals
once a year - I'd sell the rest of the tickets. A few years ago, after finding it
difficult to sell the tickets and faced with a 100% increase in season ticket prices, I
once again gave up the season tickets and used the savings to buy a satellite dish so that
I could see every Cardinal game on DirectTV's Sunday Ticket.
Before the advent of the satellite dish and the Internet,
rooting for an out of town team with a less than stellar won & loss record was an
ordeal. There would be little or no Cardinal news in local media. Cardinal transactions
might appear in the local newspaper a week late or not at all. So you'd find yourself
scouring the local sweet shops for Street & Smith's NFL Preview or a rare copy of Pro
Football Weekly. On Sundays, you'd wait for the 10-minute ticker "death watch"
on the televised game or (later on) surf over to CNN Headline News who continually
scrolled NFL scores throughout the day. And you'd sit through an hour of Chris Berman on
ESPN or a network midnight sports highlight show, hoping to get a glimpse of 2 or 3 plays
from the Cardinal game.
It's all changed. We can watch (& tape) every Cardinal
game & even obtain tapes of preseason games. We have the Internet with Cards Corner,
the Red Sheet and all the national football web sites to provide us with instant, in-depth
information about the Cardinals. And there's the Cards Corner forum, where we can talk
Cardinal football with fellow Cardinal football fans. What a country!
It's been 50 years since we won an NFL championship. But
that's OK. Because when (not if) we win, the victory will be all the more sweeter.
1958 to 1961: Pop Ivy:
Pop Ivy brought the spread and double wing offense to the Cards - wide open with laterals
and reverses. It was like watching HS football. . Ivy took the team from 2-9-1 and 2-10 to
6-5-1 and 7-7 before being replaced by Wally Lemm
Starters of Note: His first recorded starting roster
was QB'd by someone named John Roach. John David Crow, Sonny Randle were the top skill
players on offense. Ken Panfil (one of the 11 guys we got for Ollie Matson) was winding up
a career at OT Our "D" included some players - DT, Frank Fuller; DE, Leo Sugar;
MLB, Dale Meinert; OLB Bill Koman; CB's Billy Stacy and Jimmy Hill and safeties Jerry
Norton. Undrafted, rookie, Charley Johnson was listed as a starter for the first time in
Notable Draft Choices: 1. George Izo (QB, Notre Dame), 2b. Mike McGee, 7. Larry Wilson,
14. Bob DeMarco.
considered a can't miss prospect and an early "QB of the Future." Yeah, right!
To many of us, Wilson's greatest feat was intercepting a pass in a championship game with
casts on both broken hands.
Notable Draft Choices: 1. Ken Rice (T Auburn), 2. Fred Arbanas (E Mich St.), 4. Ron
McDole, 13. Ernie McMillan, 17.Pate Fischer.
Rice was a
bust. If All Pro McDole and McMillan were considered terrific picks, the 5' 7" Pat
Fischer (another one who got away - to star with the Redskins) was an absolute steal.
1962 to 1965: Wally Lemm:
Lemm was more of a traditional NFL coach. After a
4-9-1 start, he took the team to 9-5, 9-3-2 before dropping to 5-9 and being
"de-hired" by Mr. B.
Starters of Note: C, Bob DeMarco; OG, Irv Goode; TE,
Jackie Smith, FB (Mel's brother & unheralded but legendary helmet breaker), Bill
Triplett; OLB, Larry Stallings; diminuative CB, Pat Fischer; S, Jerry Stovall and our best
kicker ever, Jim Bakken. FB. Willis Crenshaw showed promise before flickering out a couple
of years later. Lemm's final year saw the emergence of OT, Ernie McMillan; OG, Ken Gray,
WR Bobby Joe Conrad; QB's Sam Etcheverri (who had starred at Montreal in the CFL) and
Charley Johnson;, RB, Prentice Gautt and DE, Joe Robb.
Notable Draft Choices 1. Fate Echols (DT, Northwestern), 1b. Irv Goode, 4. Roger Kochman
(RB Penn St.).
Echols was supposed to be the first of many
moves to bolster our anemic defense. He turned out to be a bust. (I seem to recollect that
this may have been due to a career ending knee injury). Irv Goode was a terrific pickup.
Kochman who followed Lenny Moore at Penn St. never panned out.
On Nov. 4,
Ulmo (Sonny) Randle caught 16 passes for 256 yards and a td (repeatedly toasting Giant
Hall fo Famer, Dick Lynch).
Notable Draft Choices: 1a. Jerry Stovall, 1b. Don Brumm, 3. Bob Reynolds, 5. Thunder
Thornton, 6. Bob Paremore (RB Fla A&M 4.2), 9. Willis Crenshaw, 10. Jackie Smith, 12.
Chuck Walker, 17. Dave Meggysey, 18. Larry Stallings.
One of our best drafts ever. The only clinker
was Paremore, whom I included because, at the time, I was intrigued by his blazing speed.
(As it turned out, the Cards should have been intrigued by his more heralded and even
faster teamate, Bob Hayes, who was "stolen" by Team Felon).
Notable Draft Choices: 1. Ken Kortas (DT 300 lb. Louisville), 19. Bob Young.
Kortas looked like a terrific prospect because
of his size - we were still trying to bolster our "D." He was another bust.
Young went on to become part of that incredible line with Dierdorf and Dobler. At #19, he
had to be a huge steal..
Notable Draft Choices: 1. Joe Namath, 4. Johnny Roland, 19. Roy Shivers.
The AFL vs. NFL war had broken out and the Jets
beat us out for Namath. My reaction: So what? Who needs a hotshot pheenom with gimpy
knees, (Who knew?) I believe Roland was a "future" pick - you could draft a red
shirt player a year before he could play in the NFL. Shivers, like Paremore, was a future
pick who intrigued me because of his incredible yards per carry stats at Kansas. Except
for a few flashes, he never really caught on for the Cards.
1966 to 1970: Charley Winner
Charley came over from the Colts - he was famous
for having strong secondaries. Winner went 8-5-1 his first year, then 6-7-1, 9-4-1, 4-9-1
and 8-5-1 before Bidwill inexplicably bid him fair will in favor of Bob
Starters of Note: From 1964 (Lemm) to 1969 (Winner),
the Cards were blessed with a terrific OL of Reynolds, Goode, DeMarco, MacMillan and Gray.
Johnnie Roland was our RB in 1966. And our secondary included Fischer and Abe Woodson at
CB and Stovall and Wilson at safeties. In 1967, a baby faced undrafted QB from So.
Illinois U. replaced the oft' injured Charley Johnson. His name: Jim Hart. (Hart replaced
Johnson when the veteran QB fractured his leg trying to circle left end vs. the Giants. I
was there). DT, Chuck Walker came in to anchor the DL. Don Brumm became a starting DE in
At about this time a controversy had sprung up in the NFL
concerning the stacking of black and white players at certain positions. Jamie Rivers (a
black player) broke new ground as starting MLB. Dave Meggysey (who later wrote a
controversial expose with much negative material about the Cardinals) became starting OLB.
Bob Rowe started & was a pretty good DT. 1969 saw the emergence of one Cleosophus
(Cid) Edwards at FB. Roger Wehrli came in to man the RCB post and become a fixture there.
DL, Rolf Krueger joined the team for a cuppacoffee
Notable Draft Choices: 1. Carl McAdams (LB, Oklahoma), 2. Harold Lucas (T, Mich. St.), 4.
Gary Snook (QB, Iowa).
Like Joe Willie, the Jets beat us out for
McAdams, , but there was poetic justice - the tough Okie All America MLB broke his ankle
"stepping off a curb" (Yeah. Right!) and never was the same. Lucas and Snook
were two more heralded stiffs.
Notable Draft Choices: 1. Dave Williams (WR, Washington), 2. Bob Rowe, 5. Jamie Rivers,
Notable Draft Choices: 1. McArthur Lane.
This seems like a good place to point out that
when there is only one "notable draft choice" listed, it means we had a sucky
Notable Draft Choices: 1. Roger Wehrli, 2. Rolf Krueger, 16. Junior Riggins (bro of John).
We tend to overlook Wehrli when we reflect on
some our better CB's. We shouldn't. He was one of the best. Riggins' little brother was
just that - little; a Meggett type.
Notable Draft Choices: 1. Larry Stegent (RB Tex. A&M), 3a. Charlie Pittman (RB Penn
St.), 8a. Tom Banks, 8b. Mike Holmgren (QB, USC).
Whenever I want to point out an example of a
sucky Cardinal draft, the Stegent pick is the first one that comes to mind. Like Roger
Kochman several years before, Pittman was an All American Penn St. RB that never panned
We'd like to share with you an excerpt of a
recent letter from Larry Stegent's son taking exception to our assessment of
...Yes the 1970 draft
did seem to be a sucky one. However, taking my dad at the 8th spot was a
steal. He was a tremendous football player. Injuries cut his career terribly
short. Let me tell you something about my father. He was big. He could run.
He had great hands. He could block. He could do it all. Ask anyone who knows
anything about my father and they will tell you the same thing. If he would
have never trashed his knee at Veteran's stadium ( where that was a common
occurrence) you would be singing his praises right now, because he had the
talent and the passion to be a hall of fame running back. Ask anyone at
A&M...My dad grew up dirt poor and his only way out was through football. He
dominated at every level he played at. If he would not have gotten hurt in
St. Louis, he would have dominated the professional ranks as well...Larry
Stegent was a great football player and a great pick. Things don't always
turn out the way you want them to. At the time, he was the obvious selection
for the Cards. He was as good as they came. If Landry and Lombardi were
alive today, they would tell you the same, because that is what they told my
1971 to 1972: Bob Holloway
Holloway was brought in to bring defensive backbone
and discipline to the club. He was criticized for stifling his players' athleticism in
order to minimize mistakes. His tenure - after consecutive 4-9-1 seasons was a relatively
short boring two years.
Starters of Note: Dan Dierdorf shows up on the
starting roster in 1971. He is joined by little speedster, WR, Mel Gray; C, Tom Banks and
RB, McArthur Lane. It is here that the Giants and Cardinals drafted two consecutive busts
who were ironically named Thompson. (The Gints drafted Rocky. The Cards drafted Norman).
The Rabid One (Conrad Dobler) joined the team in '72. Donny Anderson joined the Cards from
the Pack (I think for MacArthur Lane). Mark Arneson became our new starting MLB in '72.
Bobby (call me Ahmad Rashad) Moore was drafted in '72.
Notable Draft Choices: 1. Norman Thompson (DB Utah), 2. Dan Dierdorf, 6. Mel Gray.
On the heels of the Stegent draft choice came
Thompson, a big fast, rangy, physical kid who couldn't cover. Dierdorf starred for the
Cards (& now disses us regularly on ABC MNF). Gray as a 6th round pick, was a steal.
Notable Draft Choices: 1. Bobby Moore (later a.k.a. Ahmad Rashad), 2. Mark Arneson, 5.
Rashad was another "Cardinal who got
away." Dobler went on to become a Cardinal "poster boy."
1973 to 1977: Don Coryell
The "Air Coryell era was considered the most
exciting and productive period in modern Cardinal history. Don was hired from SD State to
bring some juice to a lethargic Cardinal offense. After going 4-9-1, the "Air
Coryell" regime takes the team to 10-4, 11-3 & 10-4 (& the playoffs two of
three before dropping to 7-7 and being fired. What apparently happened was that Coryell
went into the 1977 draft uncharacteristically hoping to draft MLB Robin Cole. He was
overruled by Cardinal Mgt., who opted instead for one-eyed QB bust, Steve Piczarkeiwicz.
Coryell threw a bleep-fit. Locks were changed. The rest is history.
Starters of Note: Jim Hart (by now a seasoned
veteran) was his QB, playing behind an OL that had at one time or another: Dierdorf,
Banks, Dobler, Bob Young, Roger Finnie and Tom Brahaney. Dave Butz shows up as a heralded
"can't miss" DE in 1973. He becomes better known on Chicago's Rush St. bars than
he does on the football field & is eventually waived or dealt to Washington. In 1974 a
scatback from Long Beach State named Terry Metcalf is added to the Card roster. Jim Otis
(OSU) becomes our FB. Other than Stallings and Arneson, the Cardinal "D" was
manned by no-names. TE JV Cain is drafted in the first round in 1975 only to tragically
die on the practice field a year or two later of a congenital heart ailment. His #88 is
one of a very small group that has been retired. In 1976, sack artist, John Zook (DE) is
added and MLB Tim Kearney (whose close line tackle on a kickoff is still vivid in the
minds of many of us old timers) becomes a starter. DT Mike Dawson (ASU) and S Mike
Sensibaugh (OSU) become starters.
Notable Draft Choices: 1. Dave Butz. 2. Gary Kiethley (QB UTEP), 3b. Terry Metcalf, 5. Tom
Brahaney, 7. Ken Jones (T Oklahoma), 11. Dan Sanspree (DE Auburn), 12. Dean Unruh (T
Butz was a big pudgy boom or bust type who
busted as a Card and boomed with the Skins. (Another Card Who Got Away). Metcalf turned
out to be a steal. I thought the three Okie OL's would make this our finest draft ever.
Only Brahaney stuck & only as a backup to Tom Banks at C. Bonnie Sloan - a deaf DT
from Austin Peay was a starter in the opening game of the season. But he tore up his knee
in that game and never played pro ball again (Thanks to Barry Strassler for that last bit
Notable Draft Choices: 1. JV Cain.
I can still remember the accounts of frantic
Cardinal players on the practice field urging the Cardinal TE in vain to "hang in
there." It cast a pall on the entire season & really puts things in perspective.
Notable Draft Choices: 1. Tim Gray (CB Tex. A&M), 2. Jim Germany (RB, NM State)
Another stellar draft - Gray and Germany were
mediocre and the rest of that year's draft choices eminently forgettable..
Notable Draft Choices: 1. Mike Dawson (DT Arizona), 3. Brad Oates, 4. Pat Tilley, 5. Wayne
Dawson was OK, but got injured early in his
career. Tilley was one of the best possession WR's I ever saw. I watched him make an
unbelievable one-handed catch in Memorial Stadium against the Colts. And Morris had his
moments as a future starter as well. According to BRS visitor, Barry Strassler - backing
up Jim Hart that year was hearing-challenged Billy Donckers (SD State) who had to lip-read
signals from the sidelines.
Notable Draft Choices: 1. Steve Pisarkiewicz, 2. George Franklin (FB Texas A&I), 3a.
Kurt Allerman (LB, Penn St.)
This was the draft orchestrated by the Card
front office that got Coryell fired. Franklin (like Anthony Bell later on) was an example
of a choice based on size and speed, but not on productivity. Notice the paucity of picks
who stuck - between 1974 and 1977.
1978 to 1979: Bud Wilkinson:
Mr. Bidwill decided to bring in a high profile football figure respected in the game. He
could do no better than the elderly Wilkinson, who won a gazillion straight games at
Oklahoma before retiring to his TV booth. Wilkinson floundered at 6-10 and 5-11 for two
years before being fired (the locks again!) supposedly for being part of a syndicate
interested in acquiring the Cardinals from Mr Bidwill.
Starters of Note: Possession wideout, Pat Tilley, RB
Wayne Morris, ORT Joe Bostic, SS Ken Greene and rookie sensation Ottis The Cards during
this period always seemed to carry one CB who couldn't cover. CB, Norman Thompson was the
first Toastmeister. He was succeeded by Carl Allen. And after being spoiled by the likes
of kicker Jim Bakken, the Cards are cursed by a series of horrible placekickers starting
with rookie bust, Steve Little. (The curse continued when the legendary Neil O Donoghue
was added a year later).
Notable Draft Choices: 1a. Steve Little (K, Arkansas), 1b. Ken Greene, 2. John Barefield
(LB, Texas A&I).
We anticipated the draft with excitement with
two #1's. We walked away with a kicker who didn't know how to operate without a tee (not
allowed at that time in the NFL) and a S who was decent but nothing special. Barefield was
supposed to be a small college assassin who turned out to be "all pro from the neck
down" & was subsequently released.
Notable Draft Choices: 1. Ottis Anderson, 2a. Theotis Brown (FB UCLA), 2b. Calvin Favron
(LB, SE Louisiana), 3. Joe Bostic, 4. Roy Green, 6. Thomas Lott (QB Oklahoma), 7. Kirk
Gibson (the same - CF LA Dodgers).
OJ Anderson made this years' draft. Theotis Brown,
at FB promised to give us a potent one-two punch in the backfield - but Brown (hampered by
injury) never excelled. Favron was supposed to be another small college assassin, but like
Barefield, never stuck. Bostic became a starter whose career was cut short due to injury.
But the steal of the draft was defensive back Roy Green (whom Jim Hanifan later had the
foresight to convert to an All Pro wideout). Thomas Lott was the Slash Stewart of 1979 -
only he never made it. Gibson's shot beat the other Cardinals several years later.
Anderson gains 140 yards vs. the Giants, leading Giant MLB Harry Carson to call the
Cardinal rookie "the greatest RB I ever played against." - or words to that
back and kick returner, Roy Green returned a Felon kick 106 yds to tie an NFL record.
1980 to 1985: Jim Hanifan:
Hanifan, who had remained as OL coach and Assistant Head Coach during the Coryell and
Wilkinson periods was considered a "players coach" and one that Mr. Bidwill
described "Hanny" as being as "comfortable as an old shoe." Hanifan
went 7-9 that first year. And then 5-4 (& a chintzy playoff spot) in a strike year.
Then 8-7-1 and 9-7. The following year the team dropped to 5-11. (Change the locks!) Not
good enough. Exit Hanny. Enter Gene Stallings.
Starters of Note: Newcomers in 1980 were DT, Rush
Brown and Bart Oates' brother, OG Brad Oates. The following year, we shored up our OL big
time.Our first pick was a good one: Luis Sharpe (roundly criticized since a can't miss OG
who missed- Sean Farrell - was available). It was Hanifan who converted Roy Green from
safety to wideout in 1981. Others who started during his reign were: SS, Lee Nelson and
FS, Benny Perrin. Luis Sharpe became a starter in 1982. Terry Stieve manned the LG spot
for several years. Pass rush specialist Al "Bubba" Baker joined the Cards from
Detroit in 1983 as did CB, Cedric Mack (who inherited the "Toast" title from
Carl Allen). In 1984, Earl Ferrell had his big season. Carl Birdsong was a heckuva punter.
Oft' penalized Leonard Smith was our starting SS. G-C, Doug Dawson joined the Cards in
1985 along with widebody G, Lance Smith. Stump Mitchell was beginning to emerge as a
quality RB. In that draft, I was intrigued by a DE-LB sack artist named Freddy Joe Nunn.
Notable Draft Choices: 1. Curtis Greer, 2. Doug Marsh (TE Mich.), 3b. Charlie Baker (LB,
NM), 4. Rusty Lisch (QB Notre Dame), 9. Stafford Mays (DE Wash.), 10. Rush Brown (DT Ball
Notable Draft Choices: 1. EJ Junior, 2. Neil Lomax, 9. Stump Mitchell.
This draft was extra-special. We had all heard
about this legendary college QB who had operated out of an offensive system called the
"Run & Shoot" for someone named Mouse Davis at tiny Portland State
University. He had racked up Bevo Francis type numbers, and we wondered if he was the
"real deal." Certainly, he'd be too risky to take at the 4-hole in round one.
The Cards instead, used that pick to draft Alabama All America EJ Junior. A terrific pick.
Then as the draft continued and we came close to turning the corner into round two, it
became clearer and clearer that none of the teams ahead of us were likely to draft a QB.
Could we? Would we? We did! And that's how we got Neil Lomax. Stump Mitchell turned out to
be the capable heir apparant to OJ Anderson & was stolen in the 9th round.
Notable Draft Choices: 1. Luis Sharpe, 2. David Galloway (DE Fla.), 3a. Benny Perrin (S,
Alabama), 4. Tootie Robbins, 5b. Earl Ferrell.
Sharpe turned out to be a terrific choice and an
all-pro - but the smart money had us drafting Penn St. guard, Sean Farrell. Sharpe was the
better choice. Galloway seemed like a great 2nd round pick, but never really excelled. I
had a friend who was a draft geek. His specialty was offensive linemen. He called me from
the draft to tell me: "You got a good one in the 4th round." His name: Tootie
Notable Draft Choices: 1. Leonard Smith (S McNeese), 2. Cedric Mack, 3. Ramsay Dar Dar (DT
LSU), 4b. Lionel Washington.
This turned out to be a devestating draft,
although it seemed decent at the time. We thought we had drafted 3/4 of a secondary.
Leonard Smith became a physical, but undisciplined S and played out his career with the
Bills. Cedric Mack succeeded Norman Thompson as the Cardinal "Toaster Boy."
Lionel Washington turned out to be pretty talented - only for the Raidiz (another Cardinal
who got away). Watching LSU play in the Sugar Bowl that year, I thought Ramsay Dar Dar was
a stud, animal NG who would plug the run for us for years to come. He was cut.
Notable Draft Choices: 1. Clyde Duncan (WR Tenn.), 2. Doug Dawson (G Texas), 4. Martin
Bayless (DB Bowling Green) 8a. Niko Noga.
Next to Stegent, Duncan represents one of our
worst #1 picks in history. Dawson was pretty good, but often injured and never did much.
Bayless played a little for other NFL teams. Niko Noga embodied the spirit of the Cards
"D" - a special teams maniac who really threw his body around.
Notable Draft Choices: 1. Freddie Joe Nunn, 2. Scott Bergold (T Wisc.), 3. Lance Smith, 4.
Ron Wolfley, 6. Jay Novacek, 12. Lonnie Young.
LT was in his heyday for the Giants, so
naturally, I was hoping the Cards would draft pass rushing specialist Nunn. They did.
Freddie Joe was pretty good too, but became a victim of "better living thru
chemistry." Bergold was a bust. Lance Smith became our first "wide body."
Novacek was a terrific pick at #6, but "escaped" from the Cards to Team Felon
when he fell victim to Bugel's desire to have bigger, blocking types at TE. Wolfley became
the best lead blocker and special teams wedge breaker in the NFL. Lonnie Young became a
pretty good starter and was a steal at #12.
1986 to 1989: Gene Stallings:
Stallings came to the Cards with unique
credentials. He had played under Bear Bryant, coached at Texas A&M and assisted Tom
Landry before Dallas became Team Felon. He had the look of a winning coach - right out of
Central Casting - and was known as a taskmaster (It took a near disaster for him to accept
the fact that lots of water is really good for the players on a hot day). Stallings was a
class act during his tenure. He had Jim Shofner as his offensive coordinator. (Interesting
how Shofner's play calling paled in comparison to what he did with Jim Kelly in Buffalo).
. After going 4-11-1, 7-8 and 7-9, Stallings brought the team to 5-11 and an exit before
the season was completed. Based on his subsequent performance rebuilding Alabama to become
national champs, it obviously wasn't entirely Stallings' fault.
Starters of Note: Stallings' first year was when the
Cards drafted LB Anthony Bell (who had triangle numbers but couldn't play) in the first
round and kicking bust, John Lee in Round 2. Possession wideout, JT Smith (from the
Chiefs) became a starter that year. It was the Era of the Widebody witgh Derek Kennard and
Derek Kennard joining Sharpe, Bostic and Lance Smith on the OL. In 1987, the Cards made
two excellent (& unfortunately short-lived) TE acquisitions in Bob Awalt and Jay
Novacek. Our kicking game still sucked. Anthony Bell was our starting LLB in 1987. Tim
MacDonald became our starting SS in 1988. Lomax went down in '88 and in 1989, our starting
QB was Gary Hogeboom. Before the '89 Draft, a smallish California OLB named Ken Harvey was
flying all over the football field in post -season All Star games. Bingo! Harvey became
our starting RLB. Our own Joe (dubbed "Turnstile"by Zeno) Wolf joined Harvey on
the Cardinal roster. So did #38 Michael Zordich, who killed us a few times with missed
open field tackles. And by the way MLB, Eric Hill became a starter. Rich Camerillo was our
Notable Draft Choices: 1. Anthony Bell (LB Mich. St.), 2. John Lee (K UCLA), 3. Gene
Chilton (C Texas), 4. Carl Carter (CB Tex Tech.), 8. Ray Brown, 10a. Vai Sikahema.
Another putrid draft. Bell was big, fast,
uninstinctive & couldn't make plays. John Lee was another wasted pick on an "I
keek a touchdown" type (who couldn't kick in the NFL). Chilton and Carter were two
other heralded busts. Ray Brown became a pretty good OT who floated around the league.
Sikahema was the best punt return specialist we ever had. He tore up a knee, was released
and came back to become a pretty good returner (& puncher of goal posts) for the
Notable Draft Choices: 1. Kelly Stouffer (QB Colo St.), 2. Tim McDonald, 3a. Robert Awalt,
11. Todd Peat.
In the grand tradition of Larry Stegent and
Clyde Duncan, we give you Kelly Stouffer. (If it would make any of you happier, we had
been trying to trade up to take another bust, OSU LB, Tom Cousineau). Tim McDonald (our
most famous Cardinal Who Got Away) was an exellent pick at #2. Awalt (who escaped with
Novacek to the Texas Prison Farm) and widebody Todd Peat were two other picks of note.
Notable Draft Choices: 1. Ken Harvey, 2. Tony Jeffrey (RB Texas Christian), 3. Tom Tupa,
7. Ernie Jones (WR Indy) 9. Scott Dill
I attended the draft that year. Like Nunn,
Harvey had excelled in post season and was my choice too (although it should be pointed
out that TE Keith Jackson dropped and dropped right into the lap of Buddy Ryan). Tony
Jeffery - another triangle numbers with no productivity kinda guy in the footsteps of
George Franklin and Anthony Bell. Tupa was a good punter who could fill in as a mediocre
QB. Ernie Jones had dropped like a stone due to rumored marijuana use. The Cards will face
Minnesota backup G, Dill early in the 1997 season.
Notable Draft Choices: 1a. Eric Hill, 1b. Joe Wolf, 2. Walter Reeves (TE Auburn), 3. Mike
Zandofski (OG Wash.), 4. Jim Wahler (DT UCLA), 6. Jay Taylor (DB SJ State).
Seemed like a decent draft at the time. Hill is
still around. He's well regarded throughout the NFL, though he gets mixed reviews today
from CC regulars. Wolf suffered from nagging injuries for most of his career. At best, a
good backup OT, he has been pressed into a starting role for the second straight year and
our OL has suffered. Zandofski was released, but may be still floating around the NFL.
Wahler showed great potential at NG, but got injured and left. Jay Taylor was decent
enough, but was eventually released.
1990 to 1993: Joe Bugel:
During Stallings' reign, the Redskins, under former
Coryellite, Joe Gibbs, had been riding the backs of John Riggins, the Hogs
and the one-back (Ace) offense to the Super Bowl. Mr. B must have thought to
himself: "I want piece of something like that." So he hired "Buges", former offensive line coach of
Definitely, a players coach, Buges (nicknamed
"Pollyanna" by Lee Shappell) was known for making sweeping sunshine & light
prognostications regardless of their credibility. Since the Ace called for TE's who were
blockers before receivers, Novacek and Awalt were released in favor of TE's and H-Backs
named Tim Jorden and Walter Reeves. ).
Buges brought the team to 7 - 9 in his final year (1993),
but it wasn't enough. Mr. Bidwill let him hang in the wind and then fired him. Because
Bugel had brought with him (a) the resourceful defensive guru, Fritz Schurmer and (b) the
Ace formation. The team had been configured to utilize H-Backs, Ace Backs and CB's who
could hit & play zone. That would change the following year.
Starters of Note: The Cards used their 1990 Round
One pick in the prior supplemental draft to acquire their "QB of the Future",
Timm Rosenbach. Johnny Johnson became our starting RB that year. Rosenbach went down and
was replaced by Tom Tupa in 1991. Aeneus Williams became a starter in that year as did
Lorenzo Lynch and possession wideout, Ricky Proehl. The much injured Rosenbach was
replaced Chris Chandler in 1992. That was the same year the Cards gambled on the 3rd
pick of Round One on a huge DL with no college experience named Eric Swann. (When we get
into that rut of reminiscing about how horrible our draft history was, we should remember
this one - it was a gutsy and terrific pickHis QB was Steve Beurlein. His RB was Ronald
Notable Draft Choices: Suppl. Timm Rosenbach, 2. Anthony Thompson (RB, Indiana), 3. Ricky
Proehl, 5. Larry Centers, 7. Johhny Johnson, 8. Mickey Washington.
Rosenbach was a sound pick, but got injured
early and then wanted to become a cowboy. Thompson was a bust. Proehl was a terrific
possession receiver who should never have been cut. Centers, as we all know, was a
terrific pickup in Round 5. Johnny Johnson came in to replace Stump Mitchell and played
well. But he was a moody back who eventually moved on to the Jets and then out. Micky
Washington was released, played a little bit at Buffalo and I think the Raidiz.
Notable Draft Choices: Eric Swann, 2. Mike Jones (DT NC State), 3. Aeneus Williams, 4.
Dexter Davis (DB Clemson), 7. Ivory Lee Brown (RB Ark. Pine Bluff).
Swann as we all know was a courageous and
excellent choice. At #3, Aeneus turned out to be a steal. Dexter Davis was supposed to be
better in a year where we loaded up on DB's - but he didn't pan out. Ivory Lee Brown was
an intriguing big back out of a tiny school. He flashed a little of his potential and then
Notable Draft Choices: 1. (Traded for Randal Hill), 2. Tony Sacca (QB Penn. St.), 3. Ed
Cunningham, 4b. Michael Bankston.
Terrible draft. Only Bankston stuck. Cunningham
lasted for a few years, but became undersized for the center position and moved on.
Notable Draft Choices: 1a. Garrison Hearst, 1b. Ernest Dye, 2. Ben Coleman, 4. Ronald
Moore, 6. Brett Wallerstedt, 8b. Stevie Anderson.
We traded Johnny Johnson to the Jets to move up
to get Hearst - a very talented RB with 4.2 speed and a congenitally undeveloped tendon in
one of his knees. After a training camp holdout and a shakey start, Garrison was starting
to excel. Then the other knee got torn up. A couple of years later, bad caponomics forced
Hearst's exit to Cincy and now SF (where he was named NFC offensive star of week #5 in
1997). Dye was our other #1 in a weak year for OT's. We then loaded up on another OT - Ben
Coleman. Both fizzled, though Coleman is now playing decent ball for the Jags. Ronald
Moore gained 1,000 yds. for us one year before being traded to the Jets (for Rob Moore).
Wallerstadt was a great example of terrific productivity in an undersized body. For some
reason we cut him. He is still playing in the NFL. Anderson has knocked around the
practice squad and the IR - where he once again resides.
1994 to 1995 Buddy Ryan:
After an illustrious background as head coach,
defensive guru, puncher of offensive coordinators etc. with Chicago and Philly, Buddy
brought his 46 defense and a "you've got a winner in town" bombast into Arizona.
Ryan replaced Bugel as "a man to bring the team to the next level." He figured
he'd remake the Cardinal defense in his own image (which meant replacing cover corners and
safeties for zone defenders and bringing in Seth Joyner and Clyde Simmons at humongous
free agent salaries). Buddy wasn't humble - he swaggered into the Valley
bragging that "now you've got a winner in town." He dismantled a defensive
line that DC Fritz Shurmer had assembled - a line that for the first time in
recent memory (then and now) consistently stuffed the run - its interior
manned by huge widebodies, Keith Rucker and Reuben Davis. During his first
preseason Camp, Buddy made an example of Rucker, referring to him as
"Fat Boy" and running him off the squad.
He brought in a new group of coaches (including his 2
sons). Since the offense appeared decent, he'd leave it alone - a mistake because the QB
he brought in David Krieg couldn't hang onto the ball, the Cardinal wideouts couldn't get
it done & defenses cheated against the run. The following year he brought in Rob Moore
and drafted Frank Sanders. Krieg remained at QB. Same old same old. After bringing the
Cards from 7-9 to 8-8, the Cards plummeted to 4-12 (not exactly "the next highest
level."). As is typical of a Buddy Ryan coached team, there was division among the
players with defensive players pit against the offense. There were reports of fist fights
immediately prior to and after the final game against Dallas. Immediately after the Dallas
game (where he deserted the playing field before the final play of the 1995 season had
even been run), Ryan was shown the door by Mr. Bidwill.
Notable Draft Choices: 1. Jamir Miller, 2. Chuck Levy, 3b. Eric England, 4c. Terry Irving,
5. Anthony Redmon.
Our first two choices had substance abuse
problems in their rookie years. Levy is gone. Jamir survived (aided by some superb
mentoring by Seth Joyner). England was cut this year. Irving has contended for starting
OLB and has played well this year. Redmon starts at ORG (but we don't know for how long).
Notable Draft Choices: 1&4. (Traded to Jets for Rob Moore), 2. Frank Sanders, 3.
Stoney Case, 5b. Lance Scott, 5c. Tito Paul.
Our objective coming into the draft was to
"get healthy at WR." While neither has been as consistent as we'd have liked,
Moore and Sanders are quality receivers who are still our starters. Stoney Case had a huge
Blue Gray game where he looked like the second coming of Joe Montana. He has never gotten
a real shot at starting QB and has not impressed Cardinal coaches with his practice
habits. He currently is a very distant #2 QB to starter, Kent Graham. Scott was cut and is
now a NY Giant. ToasTito Paul was finally put out of his misery late in preseason.
1996 to 2000: VinceTobin:
Tobin came in as a "solid football man." - a head coach with GM clout -
inheriting a team in dissarray; where players were reported to have fought one another at
the hotel prior to the final Dec. 25 game vs. Dallas and again afterwords in the locker
room. His initial task was to return discipline, structure and a winning attitude to the
struggling team. Tobin, an advocate of zone blitzing defensive schemes had to once again
reconfigure the defensive roster away from Ryan's less disciplined, man-oriented
46-oriented system and toward a more disciplined, zone oriented scheme. This meant
selecting Illinois DE, Simeon Rice over much heralded OT, Jonathon Ogden in the first
round of the '96 draft (although his next four picks were offensive players).
On offense, he brought in QB coaching wizard, Jim Fassell
to install a 3-step, quick passing, attack the defense offensive system. The team replaced
Krieg at QB with former Giant, Kent Graham and former Bengal and Jet, Boomer Esiason. The
team started slowly at 0 & 3 but, aided by stunning come from behind efforts and 3
red-hot Esiason performances rebounded to finish with a respectable though disappointing
7-9 record. That they accomplished this with a banged up secondary and an almost
nonexistent OL is a testimony to a terrific (& underrated) coaching job by Vince Tobin
and his staff.
Notable Draft Choices: 1. Simeon Rice, 2. Leeland McElroy, 3. Johhny McW, 4. Aaron Graham,
5a. James Dexter, 5c. Del McGee, 7. Jarius Hayes.
The Cards desperately needed OL help and were
projected to select Jonathon Ogden at the 3-hole in Round One. The Cards instead opted for
Rice who has starred. McElroy has blazing speed, but is struggling as starting RB in his
second year. McWilliams (whom many gurus thought was a steal in the 3rd round) is fast
becoming a bust. When Dexter recovers from an injured knee, he will replace Wolf at
starting ORT & hopefully will bolster our anemic running attack. McGee was on the
practice squad and is now back on IR. Hayes was cut.
Johnson carried 21 times for 214 yards, a new Cardinal record.
9/29/96: Kent Graham
completed 14 straight passes vs. St. Louis.
Esiason threw (35 for 59) for 522 yards to come from behind & beat the Redskins.
1997 (4 & 12):
The Cardinals opened the
1997 season full of high hopes - they had snagged a CB in the first round of the draft
(Tommy Knight) to shore up a leaky secondary, they drafted their "QB of the
Future" in the second round (Jake Plummer) and hoped to see their offensive line jell
to bolster a promising, yet underachieving running attack. The departure of Boomer Esiason
made Kent Graham the Cardinal field general with Stoney Case available in a backup role.
Notable Draft Choices: 1. Tom Knight, 2. Jake Plummer, 3. Ty Howard, 4. Chris Dishman, 5.
Chad Carpenter, 6a. Rod Brown, 6b. Tony McCombs, 7. Mark Smith.
Knight appears to be the
missing starting CB we've been searching for. Jake is apparently the real deal and is
breathing down the neck of Kent Graham. Howard (currently nicked) must learn how to
tackle. Dishman (also previously nicked) is a devestating run blocker who has been out of
shape and needs to learn pass blocking before he can contend for a starting role.
Carpenter and Brown are on the practice squad. McCombs is a backup. Smith may turn out to
be the steal of the draft & could replace Bernard Wilson or Brad Ottis as starting
It all went down hill from there.
The season was a nightmare of heartbreaking loss after another:
A 24 to 21 loss to Cincy on opening day after we
blew a 21 to 3 lead.
A 19 to 13 overtime loss to the Redskins
A 19 to 18 loss to the favored TB Bucs marred by
2 missed Butler FG's.
A 20 to 19 loss to the favored Vikings on an
Eddie Murray FG with :10 remaining.
A 13 to 10 overtime loss to the Eagles (who
knotted the score with :26 to go in regulation)
A 16 to 13 comeback win vs. the Ravens
A 26 to 20 overtime loss to the Steelers with
Nedney missing a FG with 11 seconds remaining in regulation.
These narrow losses eventually wore down the morale of a team that played hard
throughout most of the season.
Key factors behind these defeats were (a) an offensive line that surrendered 78 sacks
and 78.4 yards rushing a game, (b) the inability of Graham to put the ball in the end zone
(4 TD's in 6 games) and a (d) defense that lost heart and wound up with a net turnover
ratio of 20 (gained) to 42 (lost).
There were a few bright spots:
The 25 to 22 overtime upset win vs. Team Felon
off Kevin Butler's bank-shot FG.
A come-from-behind 16 to 13 win over Baltimore
Another see-saw 29 to 26 win come from behind win
over Atlanta in the final game.
The emergence of Jake "The Snake" Plummer was clearly the highlight of the
season. His ability to scratch and claw his way out of scrape after scrape to bring home a
victory or frighten a heavily favored opponent made a lasting impression on Cardinal fans
and fans in general. Plummer is no longer "our QB of the Future." He's our
"QB of Today."
The continued All Pro play of CB Aeneus Williams, the (finally) playing up to
expectations of WR Rob Moore and the emergence of DL Mark Smith were other things to bring
smiles to the faces of Cardinal fans in the aftermath of an otherwise frustrating season.
The performances of Larry Centers, Eric Swann and Simeon Rice - while not subpar by normal
NFL standards were below standard for LC, Swanny and Simeon. And while our #1 draft choice
played "decent CB for a rookie", he did not play to the standard you'd expect
from a #9-hole pick in the draft.
What kept the season from being a total bummer was the play of Plummer - who had to
play behind a tissue paper line and without the benefit of a sustained running attack to
bring the team back from adversity time after time - showing the resiliency and
resourcefulness of a seasoned veteran. The consensus around the league is that we have
something special in the "Snake."
1997 can best be summed up by reminding ourselves that we were an average of one play
per game away from being a 10 & 6 playoff contender instead of a 4 & 12 also-ran.
And that one play per game statistic isn't just blowing smoke - it's the God's honest
Notable Departures: Kent Graham QB, Kevin Williams WR-KR, Michael Bankston DL, Eric Hill
MLB, Jeff Feagles P, Brent Alexander S & Leshon Johnson RB. Notable Acquisitions: Eric
Metcalf WR-RB, Mario Bates RB, Adrian Murrell RB & Lester Holmes ORG.
Notable Draft Choices: 1. Andre Wadsworth DE, 2a. Corey
Chavous DB, 2b. Anthony Clement OT, 4. Michael Pittman RB, 5. Terry Hardy TE, 6. Zack
"The Blade" Walz OLB, 7a. Phil Savoy WR, 7b. Jomo Cousins DE, 7c. Pat Tillman S,
7d. Ron Janes FB.
Our impression back then - one day after the
draft - was that (a) the addition of Wadsworth created an awesome front four (tentatively
nicknamed "Death Row.", (b) Corey Chavous (a 1st round projection) was a steal
at #33 and gave us one of the two playmakers at safety we sorely needed, (c) Clement added a
young bookend who - after a stint at ORT will become our OLT of the future.
(d) Pittman provided quality young depth behind Murrell (& had similar qualities), (e) Walz, Savoy and
Cousins had tremendous upsides and are great late round picks and (f) Tillman
reputed to be the most devestating hitter in the entire draft & a player knowledgeable
Cardinal fans all coveted. A common denominator among all the Cardinal draft choices was
that this group consisted entirely of work-ethic/quality character prospects who had demonstrated that they
were productive on the football field (& not just a Combine sheet). The net improvement
of Metcalf over Williams, Murrell over McElroy, Wadsworth over Bankston, (one year older)
Plummer over Graham, Chavous over Alexander, Holmes over Redmon, a one year more mature OL
and Clement pushing or beating out Dexter figured to make the Cardinals an improved team over
a 1997 squad that only needed to get one play per game better to get over the hump.
And get over the hump they did. Led by second
year QB, Jake Plummer, Frankie Sanders, Rob Moore, UDFA (under Buddy) Kwamie
Lassiter, Simeon Rice, Aeneas Williams and rookies, Chavous, Clement and
Wadsworth, the Cardinals went 9 & 7 that year and made it to the Playoffs.
And they weren't "one-round wonders" either. Going up against division
winner, Dallas (who had beaten us 38 - 10 and 35 - 25) the Cardinals went on
the road to Dallas and beat 'em decisively, 20 - 7. But the following week,
they traveled to Minnesota, and a the combination of a very good Viking team
and the ear-splitting crowd noise at the MetroDome unraveled the Cardinals
and halted their drive to the Super Bowl.
Notable Departures (or sidelined by injury): FB Larry Centers, DT Eric
Swann, DT Mark Smith, OLB Jamir Miller, CB Corey Chavous, OT Lomas Brown, TE
Notable Draft Choices: 1a. WR David
Boston, 1b. OT LJ Shelton, 4.FB Joel Mackovika, 6a, CB Coby Rhinehart
When building franchises, you hear a lot, these days about "holding onto
your core players."The departure of Centers, Miller, Brown and Smith
and injuries to Chavous and Swann gutted the core of this playoff team.
Boston and Shelton didn't contribute all that much in their rookie years.
Macko became our starting FB but didn't live up to his reputation built at
Nebraska for being a ferocious lead blocker. Rhinehart showed promise, but
as we recall, he was injured quite a bit. Cards wound up 6 & 10; and fans
were grousing about Tobin's lackluster, "beige" style of coaching.
Notable Departures (or sidelined by injury): WR Rob Moore, CB Coby Rhinehart,
C Aaron Graham, RB Adrian Murrell, SS Tommy Bennett
Notable Draft Choices: 1. Thomas Jones RB,
2. Ray Thompson lB, 3. Darwin Walker DT, 4. David Barrett CB, 6a, CB
A fateful exhibition game at the dome in Minnesota proved devastating
for the Cardinals, with a number of players (including Rob Moore and Coby
Rhinehart) lost for the season. Top draft pick, Thomas Jones wasn't much of
a factor in his rookie season and Walker eventually cut. (It's amazing how
he experienced a rebirth since then over in Philly). David Boston stepped in
for the missing Moore and posted 71 catches for 1,171 yards and 7 TD's.
Tobin couldn't keep the Cardinals from
falling into a tailspin. The team started out 2 & 5, and after a 48 - 7 loss
to Dallas, Tobin was released and his defensive assistant, Dave McGinnis
appointed "interim head coach." The Cards were only able to win one more
game after that, but on Dec. 14, McGinnis was named Head Coach - a move
generally met by enthusiasm by the fans.
2001 to 2003: Dave
Notable Departures (or sidelined by injury): DE Andre
Notable Draft Choices: 1. Leonard Davis
OT, 2a. Kyle Vanden Bosch DE, RB, 2b. Mike Stone DB, 3. Adrian Wilson S, 4a.
Bill Gramatica K, 7a. Renaldo Hill CB
McGinnis was an assistant coach under Tobin - a "player's coach", known
for his enthusiasm, high ethical values and the loyalty he inspired in his
The loss of Andre Wadsworth represented the
final gutting of what was supposed to be the "deam defensive line"
(Wadsworth, Swann, Mark Smith and Simeon Rice).
But aside from this one key departure, the Cardinal roster remained
pretty much intact. Thomas Jones showed flashes, but never really lived up
to pre-draft expectations, but Michael Pittman gave the Cards a more
physical presence at RB. David Boston emerged as the single most dominating
young wide receiver in the league, racking up 98 catches for 1,598
yards and 8 touchdowns. Big and strong physically, he played like a man
among boys (but there was a reason for this as we'll learn shortly).
Cards were able to climb back to 7 & 9.
Notable Departures (or sidelined by injury): FB Joel Makovicka,
RB Michael Pittman
Notable Draft Choices: 1. Wendell Bryant
DT, 2. Levar Fisher, LB, 3a. Josh McCown QB, 6. Josh Scobey RB.
Notable FA Pickups: TE Freddie Jones, CB
Duane Starks, ,
The addition of Jones and Starks along with the drafting of a high
profile defensive tackle in Bryant and pass rushing OLB in Fisher was
supposed to be a big difference-maker. The departure of Pittman marked the
first of a series of departures by Cardinal players after off-the-field
problems - this despite the very vocal position taken by the Cardinal
front office that the team was placing a greater priority on "bringing in
Bryant didn't contribute much, Boston's
productivity tailed way off to just 32 catches and 1 TD. He looked slow,
bloated (in fact, artificially built up) and had several "issues" with his
coaches. Cards slipped back to 5 & 11. But management and fans remained
Notable Departures (or sidelined by injury): WR David Boston,
RB Thomas Jones, Jake Plummer
Notable Draft Choices: 1a. Bryant Johnson
WR, 1b. Calvin Pace DE, LB, 2. Anquan Boldin WR, 3. Gerald Hayes LB, 5.
Kenny King DL, 6a. Reggie Wells OG
Notable FA Pickups: RB Emmitt Smith, TE
Freddie Jones, CB Duane Starks, QB Jeff Blake, LB James Darling
This season marked the end of the Jake Plummer saga - Jake had done much
of his growing up as a Cardinal and managed to take the team to its first
playoff in decades, but had hit the proverbial wall posting a less than
favorable TD to Interception ratio and QB rating. He was released in the
offseason and the Cardinals turned to journeyman QB (formerly of the Jets,
Saints and Ravens) Jeff Blake.
The addition of Blake, Jones and Starks along
with the drafting of a high profile defensive tackle in Bryant and pass
rushing OLB in Fisher was supposed to represent key moves that would bring
the Cardinals back to respectability, but the team - as has become its
hallmark - started off slowly, looked ill-prepared for most games on both
sides of the ball and Blake - supposed to be dead accurate throwing deep
balls - was too mistake-prone and not all that accurate deep either.
This also marked the end of the fledgling
David Boston Era as a Cardinal. Amidst chemistry problems - with his
coaches, fellow players, rumors of steroid abuse - and injuries
thought to stem from the inability of his legs to support an upper body that
had bulked up to Tight End proportions, Boston was traded to Tampa Bay for a
marginal wideout who was subsequently cut. (Another chapter in a long saga
of talent being steadily drained from the Cardinal roster)
Many Cardinal fans - who looked at the team's
anemic sack totals and were lusting after local hero and ASU sackmaster
Terrell Suggs - were none too please when the Cardinals passed over Suggs
and traded down to draft Johnson and Pace. Neither rookie demonstrated in
their first year that they were worth using a first round pick, but Boldin -
operating from the slot-position - set all-time rookie records as a receiver
and earned a Pro Bowl spot.
But possibly the most interesting and
possibly controversial addition was that of former Cowboy great, Emmitt
Smith. Did he have any gas left in the tank? Would he be more of a
distraction than an asset to this young team? The thinking on the part of
Cardinal management was that Smith's leadership skills and experience on
championship teams would, alone, be worth the expense. This proved to be
prophetic: Emmitt broke his clavicle and had to sit out most of the season,
but the leadership he brought to the team has been invaluable. As
tough as things have been, they would have been a whole lot worse without
Emmitt Smith on the field and in our locker room.
The Cards continued their free-fall to 4 & 12
and the Bidwills (who expressed fondness and admiration for McGinnis) felt
obliged to make a change at the end of the season.
2004 to 2006:
Notable Departures (or sidelined by injury): WR Kevin Kasper,
WR Jason McAddley, WR Bryan Gilmore, DT Marcus Bell, G-C Pete Kendall,
Notable Draft Choices: 1. Larry Fitzgerald
WR, 2. Karlos Dansby LB, 3. Darnell Dockett , 4. Alex Stepanovich C, 7. John
Notable FA Pickups: DE Bertrand Berry, QB
Shawn King, OG Jeremy Bridges, CB David Macklin
Coach Green had been out of coaching for a couple of years, but brought
a track record of consistent success as head coach of the Minnesota Vikings
(and before that in college). He came in determined to make an impact.
Change was the order of the day - In attitude, in expectations, in training
techniques, in coaches, in offensive and defensive systems, in players and
in expectations. By the end of the first two weeks of the preseason, heads
Green's first major decision was
to pass on drafting a quarterback of the future in either Eli Manning or Ben
Roethlisberger in favor of placing all his chips on youngster, Josh McCown
and drafting exciting wideout (and former Green ball-boy) Larry Fitzgerald
instead. Other controversial moves sent offensive line veteran and team
leader, Pete Kendall packing (reportedly over Kendall's vocal disapproval of
the "bending" of minicamp training limitations by Green). Early in the
season, Green (who had moved RG Leonard Davis over to RT and benched former
left tackle, LJ Shelton) expressed his displeasure at the way his offensive
line was playing by benching starters, Anthony Clement and Cameron Spikes in
favor of Shelton at LT and FA and former Eagle, Jeremy Bridges at RG.
The Cardinals started off 0 & 3,
playing tough against some high profile teams (including the Rams, Falcons
and Patriots) only to lose by close scores. They were able to upset the
Seahawks and beat a mediocre Saints team, but blew a huge lead over the
Niners and lost one in OT they should have won. They then came back to
narrowly beat the Dolphins and Giants in ugly contests to make their record
4 & 5. Due to a really dismal W & L records by NFC West teams, the Cards at
this point were still within a game of first place and definitely in
spitting distance of playoff contention. But Green - not at all happy with a
sputtering offense - benched McCown in favor of backup QB Shawn King. King
looked less capable than McCown in consecutive losses to the Panthers and
Jets. Green then went to his #3 backup QB, rookie (& 7th round draft pick)
John Navarre to start vs. the Lions. (This late in the season, the Cardinals
amazingly were still in the thick of the playoff hunt). Navarre played a
very workmanlike first half. Then the Lion defense adjusted. The wheels came
off. Cardinals lost. To top it off, Navarre fractured his pinky and was
unable to go the following week vs. the Niners. The Dennis Green QB roulette
wheel spun round and round and, once again stopped at McCown. The Cards came
out flat and lacking poise against the 1 & 11 Niners (remember - the "1" was
earlier loss to them). By the middle of the 3rd quarters, SF had built a 28
- 3 lead. But McCown and the Cardinals mounted a furious comeback drive to
tie the score late in the game. only to lose it once again in OT. Playoff
hopes were all but over. Cards now face the challenge of making their final
three games "mean something" anyway. (This is where a head coach finds out
who his real players are).
Green's "They were who we thought they were"
public outburst following a bitter (lead-blowing) loss to the Chicago Bears
in 2006 signalled that the Dennis Green regime in the desert was about to
end. The Cards went 5 & 11, and Green went out the door.
Despite his losing record, one of Green's
accomplishments worthy of recognizing was the change in drafting strategy he
brought to the Cardinals. His predecessor, Dave McGinnis believed in (a)
targeting certain players he wanted and then (with the exception of the
first round) (b) drafting them one round earlier than they were valued
(to make certain that we'd get them). This meant that the Cardinals
gradually eroded the overall talent-level of their roster because most of
their players were drafted "one round too early." Green believed in the
opposite - developing a list in order of highest-graded player and, when it
was the Cardinals turn to draft, grab the "best remaining player available"
(BPA)from that list. On or two higher-rated players would invariably fall
thru the cracks and the Cards would constantly grab players whom we rated
one or two rounds higher than where we drafted them. SInce then, the
talent-level of the Cardinal roster has continued to gradually improve - a
legacy handed down by Dennis to his successors.
Notable Departures (or sidelined by injury): NA
Notable Draft Choices: 1. Rolle, 2.
Arrington, 3. E Green
Notable FA Pickups:
2006 (5 -11)
Notable Departures (or sidelined by injury): NA
Notable Draft Choices: 1. Leinart, 2.
Lutui, 3. Pope
Notable FA Pickups:
2007 to Present: Ken Whisenhunt
A coaching search led to Pittsburgh where both
OC Whisenhunt and OL Coach, Russ Grimm were leading contenders for the
Cardinal head coaching job. Whisenhunt - who was credited with injecting
creativity into the Steeler offense - won the job and brought Grimm with
him. An engineer by background, he brought a sense of organization,
structure and planning to a Cardinal franchise which seemed to be meandering
back & forth between "gut" coaches (like Buddy Ryan and Dennis Green) and
more meat & potatos practicioners (like Bugel, Tobin and McGinnis).
In 2008,his second season with the Cardinals,
Whisenhunt rode the wings of veteran QB Kurt Warner to lead the Cardinals to
the Playoffs (where they beat Atlanta, Carolina and Philadelphia only to
fall to Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl on the last play of the game - where
Roethlisberger's pass floated over the outstretched hands of CB Ralph Brown
& into the waiting hands of Santonio Holmes who remained in-bounds at the
corner of the end zone). The Cardinals made the Playoffs the following year,
beating GB in a 96-point shoot-out only to be blown out by the Saints 45 -
14 the following week. The Cards slipped to 5 - 11 in 2010 and (after a 1 &
7 start in lockout-driven 2011), came back from the dead to win 7 of their
remaining 8 games & wind up 8 & 8
Notable Departures (or sidelined by injury): L Davis,
Notable Draft Choices: 1. L. Brown, 2. A.
Branch, 5. Breaston
Notable FA Pickups: Gandy, Antonio Smith,
Ralph Brown, Morey
2008 (9 -7)
Notable Departures (or sidelined by injury): Pace,
Notable Draft Choices: 1. DRC, 2.
Campbell, 3. Doucet, 5. Hightower
Notable FA Pickups: Haggans, LaBoy,
2009 (10 - 6)
Notable Departures (or sidelined by injury): E. James, A Smith,
Bertrand Berry, Monte Beisel,
Notable Draft Choices: 1. Wells, 3. Rash
Johnson, 4. Toler, 7. Stephens-Howling
Notable FA Pickups: McFadden,
(5 - 11)
Notable Departures (or sidelined by injury): Karlos Dansby,
Anquan Boldin, Chike Okeafor, Antrel Rolle, Kurt Warner
Notable Draft Choices: 1. Dan
Williams, 2. D. Washington, 3. Roberts, 4. Schofield, 5. Skelton
Notable FA Pickups: Joey Porter, Alan
Faneca, Jay Feely, Rex Hadnot, Paris Lenon, Kerry Rhodes
2011 (8 - 8)
Notable Departures (or sidelined by injury): Faneca, Keith,
Notable Draft Choices: 1. Peterson, 2.
Ryan Williams, 3. Housler
Notable FA Pickups: Colledge, King, Heap,
C Taylor, Bradley
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