NFL - NFC WEST
2021-2022 TEAM LEADERS
One of only two original members of the NFL that still exists today, the Arizona Cardinals, previously, the Phoenix Cardinals, the St. Louis Cardinals, the Chicago Cardinals, and all the way back to the Racine Normals, have roots going back to 1898.
They were called the Racine Normals because they played at Normal Park on Racine Blvd. in Chicago. The team was never in the town of Racine, Wisconsin, as was thought by someone recording the minutes of the first league meeting.
In 1920, for the hefty fee of $100, the Cardinals, renamed for the color of the uniforms they had purchased from the University of Chicago, became a charter member of the new American Professional Football Association, which later became the NFL.
In 1920 the Cardinals also played a pair of games against the Decatur Staleys, who later became the Chicago Bears, establishing the NFL’s oldest rivalry. But the Cardinals never could sustain the success of those early Bears teams and were always playing second fiddle to their Windy City rivals.
The team’s move to St. Louis for the 1960 season was precipitated by the crowded football landscape in Chicago, but also because owner Violet Bidwell, who inherited the team when her husband Charles Bidwell died in 1947 (he bought the team in 1933) had recently married a St. Louis businessman.
The team’s move to Arizona 28 years after arriving in St. Louis was orchestrated by then-owner Bill Bidwell because he was unhappy playing in Busch Stadium.
Championships by the Arizona Cardinals
Of the three locations the Cardinals have played in, Chicago is where they had the most success, and St. Louis is where they had the least. But no matter where the Cardinals have been, they’ve always struggled to sustain winning seasons.
1925 NFL Championship
Early in the history of the NFL, the Cardinals won an NFL Championship. However, their championship season of 1925 comes with plenty of controversies.
On December 6 of that year, they were defeated by the Pottsville Maroons, 21-7, giving Pottsville the best record in the league. But NFL commissioner Joseph Carr suspended the Maroons and had them removed from the league because they played an unauthorized exhibition game that allegedly infringed on territorial rights in Philadelphia.
Appeals were filed, and rejected, though the team was reinstated the next year. And even as recently as 2003, the NFL has answered the controversy. The Cardinals are the winners of the NFL in 1925, even if Pottsville still objects nearly 100 years later.
1947 NFL Championship
In the first year of Violet Bidwell’s ownership, which made her the first woman to own an NFL team, she also became the first woman owner to win a championship. And without the controversy of 1925.
In 1947 the Cardinals hosted the Philadelphia Eagles at Comiskey Park for the NFL Championship, beating them 28-21. Elmer Angsman scored twice on 70-yard runs, and the Cardinals had their one and only championship game victory.
The two teams played a rematch 1948, but the Eagles won 7-0, and the Cardinals wouldn’t win another postseason game until 1999.
2008 NFC Championship
Led by Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner, the Cardinals won their first and only NFC Championship Game following the 2008 season. Again it was against the Eagles, and this time in Glendale, Arizona, where the Cardinals prevailed 32-25 on the back of 152 receiving yards and three touchdowns by Larry Fitzgerald.
The Cardinals played their only Super Bowl two weeks later but lost to the Steelers 27-23.
Key Stats by the Arizona Cardinals
The streak between the 1947 NFL Championship Game and their wild-card win over the Cowboys on January 2, 1999, is the longest postseason winless streak in NFL history.
Along with the two NFL Championships (1925 and 1947) and their appearance in Super Bowl XLIII, the Cardinals have just seven division championships. Two came to Chicago in 1947 and 1948, two came to St. Louis in 1974 and 1975, and the other three have come to Arizona – 2008, 2009, and 2015.
In their more than 100 years of existence, the Cardinals have been in the playoffs just 10 times.
Top Players in Arizona Cardinals History
In spite of their lack of success on the field as a team, the Cardinals have had some great players come through the organization.
Ernie Nevers is considered one of the best football players of the first half of the 20th century, and the man who could run, pass and kick better than most both played and coached for the Cardinals. He’s in the Cardinals Ring of Honor and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Paddy Driscoll quarterbacked the Cardinals during their 1925 championship season and was a six-time First-Team All-Pro. The other Hall of Fame quarterback to play for the Cardinals was Kurt Warner, who took them to their only Super Bowl.
At running back the Cardinals had Charley Trippi, the first overall pick in 1945, an NFL Champion in 1947, and the league’s all-purpose leader in career yards by the time he retired. Ollie Matson played the first seven years of his career with the Cardinals before famously being traded to the Rams for nine players.
Other Cardinals Hall of Famers includes defensive backs Dick “Night Train” Lane, Larry Wilson, and Aeneas Williams, offensive lineman Dan Dierdorf and Duke Slater, and tight end Jackie Smith.
Top Coaches in Arizona Cardinals History
Not many coaches have stood out because of their time with the Cardinals, but a number of great coaches have made stops in Chicago, St. Louis, and Arizona.
Guy Chamberlain was a five-time NFL champion and coached his final season with the Cardinals. Curly Lambeau, who built the Green Bay Packers, coached for two seasons in Chicago. Jimmy Conzelman had two stints with the Cardinals and won the 1947 NFL Championship.
Don Coryell was the most successful coach in St. Louis, winning the division in 1974 and 1975. His 42 wins with the Cardinals rank him third all-time.
In Arizona, the most successful head coach was Bruce Arians. His 50 career wins with the Cardinals is the most in franchise history, and he’s the only coach to leave Arizona with a winning record.
Frequently Asked Questions
Super Bowl XLIII