The Cardinals franchise was founded in 1898. They are one of the oldest administered professional football organizations in the United States..
The Arizona Cardinals have also been known as the Phoenix Cardinals, St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago Cardinals, Racine Cardinals, the Normals, and the Morgan Athletic Club.
The team was initially assembled as a neighborhood group that frequently played football in Chicago’s South Side. At the time, they were referred to as the Morgan Athletic Club. When a local businessman named Chris O’Brien purchased the team, they began to play at Normal Field, hence they became known as the Normals.
The faded maroon jerseys, also known as ‘Cardinal Red’, which O’Brien purchased from the University of Chicago, became the team’s identifying factor, which led to the team name ‘Racine Cardinals’.
Unfortunately, in 1906, the Cardinals were disbanded; however, O’Brien re-established the Cardinals franchise in 1913. In 1917, O’Brien hired Marshal Smith as the head coach. Under Smith’s leadership, they became champions of the Chicago Football League.
After the war in Europe, O’Brien re-established the Cardinals for a third time, and interest from the Chicago community continued to increase. In 1920, the Racine Cardinals became a member of the American Professional Football League, which was the precursor to the NFL.
The Cardinals first renowned star, John ‘Paddy’ Drisoll, became head coach in 1921 and 1922, but his job did not end with a clipboard on the sidelines. He was also a superb runner, blocker, and punter.
In 1922, the Racine Cardinals were renamed the Chicago Cardinals, and their home field became the celebrated Comiskey Park.
The Cardinals owned the best record and won their first NFL championship under coach Norman Barry in 1925. During that particular era, there was no post-season, or playoffs, to determine the champion.
In 1929, the franchise ownership changed hands as Chicago-area physician, Dr. David Jones, acquired the Chicago Cardinals.
The 1930’s and early 1940’s were considered a dark period for the Cardinals franchise as they struggled on the football field, which many feel was the result of the departure of Ernie Nevers, their star player and head coach. Charles W. Bidwill, Sr., former vice president of the inner-city rival Chicago Bears, acquired the Cardinals from Dr. Jones.
World War II began an exigent period for the Cardinals franchise. The team’s leading passer, receiver, and lineman respectively entered the service. In 1944, the Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Steelers were merged together as one team. They were branded the name Card-Pitt, and they were coached by the Cardinals’ Phil Handler and the Steelers’ Walt Kiesling. The team split their home games between Comiskey Park and Forbes Field. The Card-Pitt combination was winless in 10 outings.
After World War II ended, the Cardinals began the new era as the 1947 NFL champions. Arguably, the distinguished ‘Million Dollar Backfield’ led by Charley Trippi were the catalysts. The Cardinals defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 28-21 in the NFL championship game, however, many feel that their season was highlighted by their 30-21 victory over the inner-city rival Chicago Bears.
Mournfully, the death of team owner Charles Bidwill, Sr. marred the triumphant season.
Violet Bidwill, the deceased owner’s widow, assumed control of the Cardinals organization. In 1960, she transferred the team to St. Louis, Missouri.
Following her death in 1962, her sons Charles W. Bidwill, Jr. and William V. Bidwill inherited ownership of the Cardinals franchise.
It wasn’t until 1974 when the Cardinals won their division title since moving from Chicago to St. Louis. They won the NFC Eastern Division title under head coach Don Coryell and clinched their playoff berth since 1948 with a 10-4 win/loss record.
The Cardinals fell victim to the Minnesota Vikings.
The very next season, the Cardinals repeated as the division champions, nonetheless, their post-season disappointment continued after losing to the Los Angeles Rams.
The Cardinals would not qualify for the post-season again until 1982.
In 1988, after 28 years in St. Louis, the Cardinals were moved to Phoenix, Arizona, and Sun Devil Stadium became their new home-field.
They became known as the Phoenix Cardinals.
On March 17, 1994, Bidwill changed the team name to the Arizona Cardinals in order to represent the entire state.
In 1998, the Arizona Cardinals ended a sixteen year playoff drought made the NFL. They would defeat the Dallas Cowboys only to get pounded by the Minnesota Vikings a week later. The victory over the Cowboys was their first in the post-season since the NFL championship game in 1947.
The Cardinals have failed to make the post-season since 1998, and in 2002, as a result of the NFL realignment, they were transferred from the NFC East Division to the NFC West Division. They were joined by the St. Louis Rams, San Francisco 49ers, and Seattle Seahawks.
The Cardinals current home field is named Cardinals Stadium. The new stadium opened in 2006, and will host the annual Tostitos Bowl.