Arizona Cardinals

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The Arizona Cardinals are the oldest continually run American football team having been founded in 1898 originally as the Morgan Athletic Club. The Arizona Cardinals are based in the Phoenix metropolitan area and play in the National Football League’s (NFL) National Football Conference (NFC) West division. The Cardinals play all of their home games at the University of Phoenix Stadium, which is situated in Glendale, Arizona and is the world’s first fully retractable natural grass playing surface.

A charter member of the NFL in 1920, the Cardinals and the Chicago Bears are the only two franchises still in existence from this time. Since the team won the NFL championship in 1947, it has suffered many losing seasons and currently holds the league’s longest active championship drought with a total of 68 seasons. In 2012, the Cardinals also became the first NFL franchise to lose 700 games.

Fast Facts

  • Full Name: Arizona Cardinals
  • Conference: National Football Conference
  • Division: West
  • Location: Phoenix, Arizona
  • Stadium Name: University of Phoenix Stadium
  • Year Established: 1898
  • Owner: Bill Bidwell
  • Head Coach: Bruce Arians
  • Manager: Steve Keim
  • Nickname: The Cards
  • Mascot: Big Red
  • Team Colours: Cardinal red, white, and black

History

Arizona Cardinals vs New York Giants

Arizona Cardinals vs New York Giants (UTBP / Shutterstock.com)

Founded in 1898, the Arizona Cardinals are the oldest American football franchise still in existence and, along with the Chicago Bears, they are the oldest NFL franchise too. Founded as the Morgan Athletic Club in 1898, the team was originally based in Chicago and is the most well-travelled of franchises moving to Minneapolis in 1959, to St Louis in 1960, Tempe Arizona in 1988, and finally to Glendale, Arizona where they currently play their home games at the University of Phoenix Stadium.

Prior to the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, the Cardinals won two championships, in 1925 and 1947. Unfortunately, since that winning 1947 season, the team has suffered many losing seasons and it is currently the holder of two records in this respect. Firstly, they are the team that has the NFL’s longest active championship drought and they are also the first team in the NFL to lose 700 games.

The Cardinals have appeared in the Super Bowl just once in their history, playing the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLIII. Played at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, the Cardinals were beaten 27-23 in a game that was watched by nearly 100 million US TV viewers.

The Cardinals have been to the playoffs ten times in their history (1947, 1948, 1974, 1975, 1982, 1998, 2008, 2009, 2014 and 2015) and have also won five division titles (1974, 1975, 2008, 2009 and 2015). As can be seen from these records, there has been an increase in form over the last ten years which fans of the Cardinals are hoping will last and will enable them to bury their history of being having the league’s longest championship drought. Under their head coach Bruce Arians, there is a renewed hope amongst Cardinals fans and for now, many are looking to the future with confidence

Super Bowl Appearances

Despite having a history that stretches back to 1898, the Arizona Cardinals have appeared at just one Super Bowl.

Super Bowl XLIII Pittsburgh Steelers 27 - Arizona Cardinals 23

Super Bowl XLIII was held at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Raymond James Stadium on February 1, 2009. Before the game, the Pittsburgh Steelers were the big favourites and the bookmakers weren’t wrong with the Steelers stealing the game at 27-23. The Arizona Cardinals though made a good account of themselves and the fans were treated to an exciting and dynamic game.

At the time, the game had the biggest Super Bowl audience within history and NBC reported a total US audience of 98.7 million with a total of global audience of 151 million. Fans were treated to singer and actress, Jennifer Hudson, singing the National Anthem and the halftime show saw Bruce Springsteen perform with his E-Street Band.

Arizona Cardinals fans behaved impeccably but the match was marred by postgame riots in neighbourhoods of Pittsburgh, namely South Side and Oakland, which saw college students cause over $150,000 worth of damages – one of the worst riots to occur after a Super Bowl victory.

Stadium

University of Phoenix Stadium

University of Phoenix Stadium (tishomir / Shutterstock.com)

The University of Phoenix Stadium has been home to the Arizona Cardinals since it opened on August 1, 2006. As well as hosting the Cardinals, it is also the venue of the annual Fiesta Bowl and has replaced the Sun Valley Stadium in Tempe as the Valley of the Sun’s major outdoor stadium.

The stadium has a capacity of 63,400 and was designed by Eisenman Architects and renowned stadium engineers HOK Sport – now known as Populous. Its stunning design is admired by many and was named by Businessweek magazine as one of the world’s 10 most impressive sports facilities all thanks to its design and innovation.

Two of the most impressive features of the stadium are its retractable roof designed by the prestigious Walter P Moore and Associates and its roll-in natural grass field that was designed by the Lloyd Civil and Sports Engineering company. Thanks to its innovative design, there are no obstructed views in the stadium and the seating capacity can be expanded by 8,800 for ‘mega events’, such as the Super Bowl, NFL Championship Games, and college bowls. Some of the biggest non-football events to have taken place at the stadium include a Rolling Stones concert and the WWE’s WrestleMania XXVI that saw 72,219 attend.

Famous Players

Pat Tillman (1998-2001)

There may have been better players to play for the Cardinals (though not many), but no player comes close to Tillman in terms of having a place in the fans’ hearts. A local star from Arizona State University, Tillman was an immediate hit when drafted thanks to his all-out style of play.

In 2011, just eight months after the September 11 attacks, Tillman turned down a multimillion dollar contract with the Cardinals to enlist in the US Army. Sadly, whilst on deployment in Afghanistan with his Ranger unit, he was gunned down whilst engaging in a fire fight – although it was later revealed it was actually friendly fire.

Larry Fitzgerald (2004 - present)

One of the best ever wide receivers to play the game, he is one of the Arizona Cardinal’s true superstars. Thanks to his extreme athleticism, he is one of the most popular ever players to play the game and Arizona fans are thankful that he is contracted to the Cardinals until 2019, meaning he’ll finish his career there.

Kurt Warner

Kurt Warner may only have had a short career at the Cardinals but he made a huge impact. Despite having a first season that was full of injuries and a second season where he underperformed, he went on to become one of the best and most consistent players ever to pull on a Cardinals jersey.

Aeneas Williams (1991-2000)

Quite simply one of the best defensive players that the Cardinal have ever had play for them, Williams was named to six Pro Bowls and was selected an All-Pro three times. As well as being one of the best players to ever play for the Cardinals, he will also be remembered as the player who ended Steve Young’s career, as his tackle knocked him unconscious for several minutes, which ultimately led to Young’s retirement.

Anquan Boldin (2003 - 2009)

Coming to the Cardinals in 2003 after being drafted in the second round, he immediately made an impact at the Cardinal setting the NFL record for most receiving yards by a rookie in his first game. He also holds the record for the most receptions in the first 26 games of a career and has reached 300, 400 and 500 receptions faster than any other player in NFL history.

Did You Know?

  • Key player in the mid 1970s Cardinals team, Dan Dierdorf, went on to become a part of ABC’s ‘Monday Night Football’ Team for 12 years.
  • Along with the Chicago Bears, the Arizona Cardinals is the oldest NFL team that is still in existence.
  • Don Coryell was the first ever coach to win 100 games at both college and professional level.
  • The name of the Cardinals mascot is ‘Big Red’ and the team’s nickname is ‘The Cards’.