The Arizona Cardinals are a professional American football team based in Glendale, Arizona, just outside of Phoenix. The Cardinals are currently members of the Western Division of the National Football Conference (NFC) in the National Football League (NFL).
The Cardinals have never made a Super Bowl appearance; it is currently one of six NFL teams never to have done so (the Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, and New Orleans Saints being the others). The team's lone NFL championship game victory, in 1947, while based in Chicago, came two decades before the first Super Bowl Game was played. The club's other NFL championship, in 1925, occurred eight years before the league began holding a championship game. In the six-plus decades since winning the championship in 1947, the team has qualified for the playoffs only five times and has won but a single playoff game (a record for futility approached only by the Detroit Lions).
In 1988, the team moved to Arizona from St. Louis, Missouri. In 2006 the club began playing all home games at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, after spending 17 years at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe.
After becoming a charter member of the NFL in 1920, the club was renamed the Chicago Cardinals, in part to distinguish them from a new franchise that was actually placed in Racine, Wisconsin. In 1944, during the lean years of World War II, the Cardinals temporarily merged into the Pittsburgh Steelers and became one franchise, usually referred to as Card-Pitt, for that one season. The Cardinals moved to St. Louis, Missouri in 1960 becoming the St. Louis Cardinals, often called the "Football Cardinals" or the "Grid Birds" to distinguish them from the baseball team, and also sometimes called "The Big Red" during some brushes with success in the 1970s. After an unsuccessful campaign for a new football-only stadium in St. Louis, the club relocated to the Phoenix metropolitan area in 1988, first playing at Sun Devil Stadium in the suburb of Tempe. The team was known as the Phoenix Cardinals before it started using "Arizona" in its name in 1994.
Despite moving to St. Louis and then to Arizona, the Cardinals for decades remained in either an Eastern conference or division. When the league was divided into Eastern and Western conferences prior to the 1953 season, the Cardinals were placed in the East while the Chicago Bears were placed in the West. After the 1970 AFL-NFL Merger, the team was placed in the NFC East. The Cardinals were finally moved to the NFC West despite their complaints as part of the 2002 realignment.
The Cardinals were NFL Champions in 1925 and 1947 and last played for the NFL title in 1948. However, the team has not won a league title nor played in the championship game since then, and thus currently holds the NFL record for the longest championship drought and along with the Houston Texans (founded in 2002) are the only team not to appear in a conference championship game. The team has also won only two division titles (1974 and 1975) since their 1947 NFL championship. Despite being the oldest existing professional football franchise in the United States, the Cardinals have a remarkably lean postseason history, with an all-time record of 2-5 (not counting the 1964 Bert Bell Benefit Bowl). They did win a Wild Card game against the Dallas Cowboys in 1998. The team's ongoing foibles have motivated writer and sportsblogger Will Leitch, a fan of the Cardinals, to sarcastically refer to the franchise as "The Buzzsaw that is the Arizona Cardinals," although the nickname has not caught on among Arizona fans. The team's futility has also been attributed to a sports-related curse placed onto the team because their 1925 title was the result of a disputed, controversial ruling by the NFL. (See 1925 NFL Championship controversy for more details)
The Cardinals conduct their annual summer training camp at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff.
O'Brien later moved them to Chicago's Normal Park and renamed them the Racine Normals, since Normal Park was located on Racine Avenue in Chicago. In 1901, O'Brien bought used maroon uniforms from the University of Chicago, the colors of which had by then faded, leading O'Brien to exclaim, "That's not maroon, it's cardinal red!" It was then that the team changed its name to the Racine Cardinals.
The team disbanded in 1906 mostly for lack of local competition, but reformed in 1913. They were forced to suspend operations for a second time in 1918 because of World War I and the outbreak of the Spanish Flu Pandemic. They resumed operations later in the year, and have since operated continuously.
In 1920, the team became a charter member of the American Professional Football Association (which became the NFL in 1922), for a franchise fee of $100USD. The Cardinals and the Bears (originally founded as the Decatur Staleys before moving to Chicago in 1921) are the only charter members of the NFL still in existence, though the Green Bay Packers, who joined the league in 1921, existed prior to the formation of the NFL. The person keeping the minutes of the first league meeting, unfamiliar with the nuances of Chicago football, recorded the Cardinals as Racine, Wisconsin. The team was renamed the Chicago Cardinals in 1922, after the NFL placed a team in the Wisconsin city. That season the Cardinals moved to Comiskey Park.
The Cardinals won their first NFL championship in 1925, finishing the season with a record of 11-2-1. In a controversial ruling by the league, the Pottsville Maroons, the team with the best record, had their franchise revoked for violating the territorial rights of the Frankford Yellow Jackets. Thus, the Cardinals won the 1925 title by default. (For more on the controversy, see 1925 NFL Championship controversy, and Sports-related curses.)
Dr. David Jones bought the team from O'Brien in 1929. In 1932 the team was purchased by Charles Bidwill, then a vice president of the Chicago Bears. The team has been under the ownership of the Bidwill family since then.
In 1944, owing to player shortages caused by World War II, the Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers merged for one year and were known as the "Card-Pitt", or derisively as the "Carpets" as they were winless that season.
The Cardinals won their last NFL championship game in 1947 (28-21 over the Philadelphia Eagles) with their "Million-Dollar Backfield", which included quarterback Paul Christman, halfback Charley Trippi, halfback Elmer Angsman, and fullback Pat Harder, piling up 282 rushing yards. To date, it is the franchise's only home playoff game of any kind. However, Bidwill was not around to see it; he'd died before the season, leaving the team to his wife Violet. He had, however, beaten the Chicago Rockets of the upstart All-America Football Conference for the rights to Trippi. This signing is generally acknowledged as the final piece in the championship puzzle. They advanced to the championship game the next season, but lost 7-0 in a rematch with the Eagles, played in a heavy snowstorm that almost completely obscured the field. The next year, Violet Bidwill married St. Louis businessman Walter Wolfner.
The 1950s were dismal for the team, with only 33 victories for the decade. Most years found the Cardinals in last place and in their best year of the decade (1956), they finished second with a 7-5 record. Following the 1958 season, they traded their star running back Ollie Matson to the Los Angeles Rams for an unprecedented nine players, but this did little to improve the Cardinals. The team's poor performances, coupled with the near-mythic status of the crosstown Bears, resulted in a decline in attendance and revenue. The Bidwills engineered a deal with the NFL which sent the Cardinals to St. Louis beginning with the 1960 season, a move which also blocked St. Louis as a market against the emerging American Football League.
The new St. Louis football Cardinals were much improved, and the team was competitive for much of the 1960s. New stars emerged, such as Larry Wilson, Charley Johnson, Jim Bakken, Sonny Randle, and Jim Hart. However, in an era when only two or four teams qualified for the NFL playoffs, the Cardinals' playoff drought continued, though the team did advance to the Playoff Bowl in 1964.
Violet Bidwill Wolfner died in 1962, and her sons, Bill and Charles, Jr. took control. Bill Bidwill became sole owner in 1972 and still owns the team today. Only the New York Giants and Chicago Bears have been in the hands of one family longer than the Cardinals.
In 1973, Don Coryell became head coach and the Cardinals registered a 7-0 record to open the 1974 season. They won the NFC East then and in 1975, losing in the divisional playoffs both times. During this period, the Cardinals boasted an effective offense in the wake of a record-setting offensive line which included standouts Dan Dierdorf, Conrad Dobler, and Tom Banks.
This period for the franchise was characterized by exciting close games, come-from-behind nailbiters, and several frustrating near-misses. The press and league fans began to call the team the "Cardiac Cardinals". Team stars from the 1970s included Pro Football Hall of Fame cornerback Roger Wehrli, wide receiver Mel Gray, and running backs Terry Metcalf and Jim Otis.
On Thanksgiving Day 1976, the Cardinals suffered a controversial loss to the Dallas Cowboys. Cardinal tight end J. V. Cain, running an apparent game-winning route, was shoved out of the end zone by Dallas defensive backs Cliff Harris and Charlie Waters in what appeared to be obvious interference, but a penalty was not called. With this loss, the Cardinals were dethroned from the divisional lead and became the first NFC team to reach 10 wins without qualifying for the playoffs.
In 1977, the Cardinals started slowly but won 6 consecutive games before losing the Thanksgiving Day game to the Miami Dolphins, 55-14. Bob Griese's record-setting day turned out to be the first of 12 straight losses for the Cardinals (extending into 1978), a streak which included being only the second team ever to lose to the previously-winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Coryell and several key players, including Dobler and Metcalf, departed the team at the end of the 1977 season. The Cardinals would make the playoffs only once in the next 21 years, and that appearance was in a 16-team tournament at the end of the strike-shortened 1982 NFL season.
The Cardinals experienced several years of notoriously poor drafts and unfortunate personnel moves in the late 1970s, typified by the first-round selection of kicker Steve Little and hiring of college coaching legend Bud Wilkinson in 1978. However, the Cardinals had some success in the early 1980s, posting three consecutive winning seasons from 1981 to 1984. The heart of this squad was the prolific trio of quarterback Neil Lomax, wide receiver Roy Green, and running back Ottis Anderson.
In 1987, the team's last in St. Louis, on November 8, the Cardinals had one of the greatest comebacks in NFL history when trailing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 28-3, the Cardinals scored 28 unanswered points in the 4th quarter to win the game 31-28.
During the Cardinals' 28-year stay in St. Louis, they advanced to the playoffs just three times (1974, 1975 & 1982), never hosting or winning in any appearance. The team left St. Louis before the 1988 season, after Bidwill was unable to convince the city to build a new stadium.
In March 1994, in a move designed to better market the franchise to a statewide fan base, team owner Bill Bidwill announced his intention to change the name of the team to the Arizona Cardinals. The rest of the NFL owners quickly approved the name change.
However, the Cardinals spent most of their first decade in Arizona as a cellar-dweller. Things began to look up during the 1998 season as Jake Plummer enjoyed his greatest stretch of success during his tenure with the franchise, in terms of victories at least, as his quarterback rating was still an average 75.0. The team during that time had once again been dubbed the Cardiac Cards by the local and national media as eight of their 16 regular-season games were decided by three points or less, and seven of those games ended in favor of the Cardinals. Solidifying their status as the team to beat in the clutch, as the Cardinals, with a 6-7 record going into the 15th week, won 3 straight games to clinch a playoff spot, including one that very week which had to be decided in overtime, and the total margin of those 3 victories was a mere 8 points.
This and the fact that none of their victories had been to teams with winning records made them heavy underdogs going into their Wild Card Playoff game against the Dallas Cowboys. Considering their two regular season losses to the Cowboys and the fact that they had been on the losing end of 16 of the last 17 games against their division rivals, including 9 straight losses at Texas Stadium, the "Team of the Nineties" seemed to have history, among other forces, on their side. To further the situation, the Cardinals franchise had not won a single playoff game since their title year of 1947, resulting in the longest active drought in professional sports history.
The Cardinals won the game 20-7; however, the final score made the game appear closer than it actually was, as Arizona dominated the Cowboys on both ends of the football throughout the game. At Texas Stadium that afternoon, the Cardinals jumped out to a 10-0 halftime lead. The Cardinals would later increase that lead to 20-0 in the final minutes of the 4th quarter. The Cowboys' only score was a touchdown late in the 4th quarter, and the Cardinals held on for the upset. The Cardinals, who had suffered for 51 years as the NFL's doormat, finally had a playoff win. However, the distinction was short lived as the Cardinals fell in the divisional round of the playoffs to the Minnesota Vikings who possessed a 15-1 record as well as the highest-scoring offense in NFL history, a record which was broken by the 2007 New England Patriots. The Vikings won the game 41-21 in the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis.
The Cardinals have not had a winning season since their 1998 playoff appearance. Coming off their playoff run in 1998, the Cardinals were expected to do bigger and better things in 1999, but a tough schedule ranked in the top 5 as well as key injuries resulted in what would be another disappointing season, getting off to a 2-6 start. However, the Cards would make another run winning 4 straight to get back into the playoff chase, but it was not meant to be as Arizona lost their last 4 to finish with a disappointing 6-10 record. The team finished with 5-11 records in 2005 and 2006.
In 2000, Maricopa County voters passed a ballot initiative by a margin of 51% to 49%, providing funding for a new Cardinals stadium (as well as for improvements to Major League Baseball spring training facilities in the greater Phoenix region; and youth recreation). After some legal obstacles, the Cardinals began construction of their new facility in April 2003, in Glendale, one of the western suburbs of Phoenix. University of Phoenix Stadium features a retractable roof and a slide-out grass surface, which is good for the hot desert weather; the new stadium has a state-of-the-art air-conditioning system and high-back seats.
In 2002, the NFL realignment moved the Cardinals to the more geographically-correct NFC West. Their current division rivals are the St. Louis Rams (the Cardinals' first trip to St. Louis since the realignment was a nationally-televised game on ESPN), San Francisco 49ers, and the Seattle Seahawks.
In 2007, under new coach Ken Whisenhunt the Cardinals went 8-8, their best record since 1998.
The team has used the cardinal red jerseys since Chris O'Brien bought them for the club in 1901. And for most of its history, the Cardinals have used the same basic uniform design of white helmets, white pants with red stripes on the sides, and either red or white jerseys.
Starting in 1947, the team had a logo of a cardinal bird perched on the stitches of a football. However, the club did not attach a logo to their helmets until they debuted a cardinal-head logo in 1960, the year the franchise moved from Chicago to St. Louis. When the Cardinals moved to Arizona in 1988, the flag of Arizona was added to the sleeves. And in 1990, the team began wearing red pants with their white jerseys.
In 2005, the team unveiled its first major changes in a century. The cardinal-head logo was updated to be sleeker and more menacing than its predecessor, which had been derisively called a "parakeet. Black was added as an accent color, while trim lines were added to the outside shoulders and sleeves, and the sides of the jerseys and pants. Both the red and white jerseys have the option of red or white pants.
Hoping to break a six-game losing streak, the Cardinals wore the red pants for the first time on October 29, 2006 in a game at Lambeau Field against the Green Bay Packers. The Packers won 31-14, and the Cards headed into their bye week with a 1-7 mark. Following their bye week, the Cardinals came out in their all-red combination at home against the Dallas Cowboys and lost, 27-10. Arizona did not wear the red pants since that loss to the Cowboys, and managed to win four of their last seven games. In 2007, after Dennis Green left, the Cardinals wore white pants for the first half of the season and red pants for the second half of the season.
In the Madden NFL video game series, the Cardinals were outfitted in the all-red combination at home and the all-white combination on the road. In some versions of game, the red jersey-white pants and white jersey-red pants combinations appear as alternates.
For their first 18 years in Arizona, the Cardinals, like many other NFL teams in warm climates, wore their white jerseys at home during the first half of the season—forcing opponents to suffer in their darker-colored jerseys during Arizona autumns that frequently see temperatures over 100 °F (38 °C). However, this tradition did not continue when the Cardinals moved to University of Phoenix Stadium in 2006, as early-season games (and most day home games overall) are played with the roof closed. With the temperature inside at a comfortable 70 °F (21 °C), Green opted to have the Cardinals wear their red jerseys at home full-time.
* NFL Record
St. Louis Cardinals
|1939||Charles (Ki) Aldrich||TCU||Center|
|1941||John Kimbrough||Texas A&M||Back|
|1947||DeWit (Tex) Coulter||Army||Tackle|
|1948||Jim Spavital||Oklahoma A&M||Back|
|1949||Bill Fischer||Notre Dame||Guard|
|1950||No 1st Rd Pick, Jack Jennings, (2nd Round)||Ohio State||Tackle|
|1951||Jerry Groom||Notre Dame||Center|
|1952||Ollie Matson||San Francisco||Back|
|1958||John David Crow||Texas A & M||Back|
|1959||Bill Stacy||Mississippi State||Back|
The St. Louis Years, 1960-1987
|1960||George Izo||Notre Dame||Quarterback|
|1962||Fate Echols||Northwestern||Defensive Tackle|
|1963||Don Brumm||Purdue||Defensive End|
|1964||Ken Kortas||Louisville||Defensive Tackle|
|1967||Dave Williams||Washington||Wide Receiver|
|1968||MacArthur Lane||Utah State||Running Back|
|1969||Roger Wehrli||Missouri||Defensive Back|
|1970||Larry Stegent||Texas A & M||Running Back|
|1972||Bobby Moore||Oregon||Running Back/Wide Receiver|
|1973||Paul Seymour||Michigan||Tight End|
|1973||Dave Butz||Purdue||Defensive Tackle|
|1974||J. V. Cain||Colorado||Tight End|
|1975||Tim Gray||Texas A & M||Defensive Back|
|1976||Mike Dawson||Arizona||Defensive Tackle|
|1978||Ken Greene||Washington State||Defensive Back|
|1979||Ottis Anderson||Miami||Running Back|
|1980||Curtis Greer||Michigan||Defensive End|
|1981||E. J. Junior||Alabama||Linebacker|
|1983||Leonard Smith||McNeese State||Defensive Back|
|1984||Clyde Duncan||Tennessee||Wide Receiver|
|1985||Freddie Joe Nunn||Mississippi||Linebacker|
|1986||Anthony Bell||Michigan State||Linebacker|
|1987||Kelly Stouffer||Colorado State||Quarterback|
The Arizona Years, 1988-present
|1989||Joe Wolf||Boston College||Guard|
|1990||No 1st Rd Pick, Anthony Thompson (2nd Round)||Indiana||Running Back|
|1991||Eric Swann||No College||Defensive End|
|1992||No 1st Rd Pick, Tony Sacca, (2nd Round)||Penn State||Quarterback|
|1993||Garrison Hearst||Georgia||Running Back|
|1993||Ernest Dye||South Carolina||Tackle|
|1995||No 1st Rd Pick, Frank Sanders, (2nd Round)||Auburn||Wide Receiver|
|1996||Simeon Rice||Illinois||Defensive End|
|1997||Tom Knight||Iowa||Defensive Back|
|1998||Andre Wadsworth||Florida State||Defensive End|
|1999||David Boston||Ohio State||Wide Receiver|
|1999||L.J. Shelton||Eastern Michigan||Tackle|
|2000||Thomas Jones||Virginia||Running Back|
|2002||Wendell Bryant||Wisconsin||Defensive Tackle|
|2003||Bryant Johnson||Penn State||Wide Receiver|
|2003||Calvin Pace||Wake Forest||Defensive End|
|2004||Larry Fitzgerald||Pittsburgh||Wide Receiver|
|2006||Matt Leinart||Southern California||Quarterback|
|2007||Levi Brown||Penn State||Left Tackle|
|2008||Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie||Tenn State||Cornerback|
On New Year's Day 2007, KMVP began a simulcast of KTAR-AM, which switched to an all-sports format (the news/talk station became 92.3, KTAR-FM). For the 2007 season, KTAR-AM will be the official flagship station; however, some if not all broadcasts will also be heard on 92.3FM because of conflicts with the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball games on 620AM.