March 1994, the Cardinals were christened with a new name, the
Arizona Cardinals. But there is nothing new about the oldest
team in terms of continuous operation in pro football history.
A charter member of the National Football League, the Cardinals
trace their history back to the 1898 when Chris O'Brien formed
the Morgan Athletic Club. A few years later, he bought used
jerseys from the University of Chicago. He described the faded
maroon clothing as "Cardinal red" and the team, then
playing at 61st and Racine Streets, became the Racine Street
The American Professional Football Association, the direct forerunner
of the NFL, began play in 1920. The Cardinals faced an immediate
challenge for territorial rights in Chicago from a team named
the Tigers, who joined the league after the organizational meeting
on September 17. O'Brien and the Cardinals promptly challenged
the Tigers to a game, with the losers to leave town. The Cardinals
won the game and the franchise rights when the legendary Paddy
Driscoll scored the only touchdown in a 6-0 victory.
Except for 1925, when they edged out the Pottsville Maroons
for their first NFL championship, the Cardinals experienced
only minimal success on the playing field during their first
26 seasons in the league. A Thanksgiving Day game in 1929 did
produce an all-time highlight when the Cardinals' superstar
running back, Ernie Nevers, scored all 40 points -- an NFL record
that stands today -- in a 40-6 victory over the Chicago Bears.
The Cardinals began a continuous period of family ownership
in 1932 when Charles W. Bidwill bought the team. His son, William
V. Bidwill, now operates the team. Bidwill kept the Cardinals
operating during the depression days of the 1930s and the World
War II years of the early 1940s and then finally put together
a winning unit just as the war ended. Bidwill's building program
produced a team that won an NFL championship in 1947 and the
NFL Western division title in 1948. The Cardinals' 28-21 victory
over the Philadelphia Eagles for the 1947 championship stood
as the team's last playoff victory until a 20-7 win over the
Dallas Cowboys in the 1998 NFC Wildcard Game. The team's coach,
Jimmy Conzelman, is now a member of the Hall of Fame as is Charley
Trippi, a key member of the famed "Dream Backfield"
that Bidwill fashioned. The unit also included Paul Christman,
Pat Harder, Marshall Goldberg and Elmer Angsman when Goldberg
moved to defense. In a cruel twist of fate, Bidwill died before
seeing that team in action.
Since joining the NFL, the Cardinals have called three cities
home. After 40 seasons in Chicago, they moved to St. Louis in
1960. The Cardinals seriously challenged the Cleveland Browns
twice for divisional honors in the 1960s, but they fell one-half
game short both in 1964 and 1968. For a time in the mid 1970s,
the St. Louis Cardinals were serious championship challengers.
They won NFC Eastern division championships in both 1974 and
1975 but lost in the first round of the playoffs each year.
The franchise was moved for a second time in 1988 when William
Bidwill selected Phoenix as the new home city. There the Cardinals
play in 73,521-seat Sun Devil Stadium on the Arizona State University
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