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Born in 1920 as the Chicago Cardinals, this is the oldest professional football franchise in the USA. Many changes have taken place over the years including a merger with the Steelers for one season in 1944, a move to St. Louis, then to Arizona, first going by the name the Phoenix Cardinals before finally settling on its most recent moniker of the Arizona Cardinals in 1994. However, the one thing that has eluded this franchise in all of this time has been a Super Bowl championship. Winners of two pre-Super Bowl era championships (in 1925 and 1947), Cardinals fans are desperate to reach that highest plateau.
Many players have worn the Cardinals red uniform, but one name rises above all others as an example of the courage and sacrifice necessary to become a legend. A 7th round pick in 1998 out of Arizona State, Pat Tillman made the Cardinals roster at the safety position. Despite his low draft position, Tillman flourished in the NFL reaching the NFL All-Pro team in 2000. Following the terrorist attacks on 9/11, Tillman left football to enlist in the US Army. He gave his life for his country in 2004. An inspiration across the league, Tillman jerseys are still found at the University of Phoenix stadium in abundance on game day.
There are many other fan favorites in Arizona. Adrian Wilson, the strong safety out of NC State reached the Pro Bowl five times. Kurt Warner’s story took him from stocking shelves in a grocery store to Super Bowl champion with the St. Louis Rams. He joined the Cardinals roster in 2005 as a veteran quarterback looking to mentor. He ended up winning the starting role and leading the team for five years, culminating in another Super Bowl appearance. Larry Fitzgerald, the son of a Minnesota sports reporter, had the good fortune to be surrounded by Hall of Fame wide receiver talent at an early age. Fitzgerald used this to his advantage on his way to become one of the most productive wide receivers in NFL history. Among his many accolades are 10 Pro Bowl selections.
After five years as the starter for the Cardinals, Carson Palmer has decided that Arizona would be the last stop in his career. He retired after the 2017 season. In need of a quick solution at QB, Arizona signed Sam Bradford in the offseason. Another journeyman quarterback, Bradford is a solid starter that can plug the hole until the team can unleash their long-term solution at QB, Josh Rosen out of UCLA. Coming into the league as the number ten overall pick, Rosen has a Brady-like chip on his shoulder. He made sure to let everyone know that nine teams made a mistake by not taking him. Adding to the depth at QB is Mike Glennon, who has spent time with both the Buccaneers and Bears in his tenure with the NFL. Lining up on the outside for Arizona is the incomparable Larry Fitzgerald. A future Hall of Famer, Fitzgerald is an ageless wonder who just keeps on producing no matter the coverage.
After a strong rookie showing and a breakout sophomore season, running back David Johnson had his third season in the NFL stolen away to injury. Stronger than ever, he returns to the field this season to pick up where he left off, as one of the elite backs in the league. Johnson figures to be a big part of the Arizona offense as he is a threat in both the running and passing game.
The defensive side of the ball contains threats with Corey Peters and Chandler Jones up front. LB Haason Reddick joined the team via the NFL draft last season and is looking to have a bigger role this season. Patrick Peterson and Antoine Bethea round out the backfield after the departure of Tyron Mathieu following a pay discrepancy. He has taken his talents to the Houston Texans.
Head Coach Bruce Arians was certainly disappointed with the fact that the Cardinals did not make the playoffs this past year. This squad has been thought of as a Super Bowl contender for the past few years so falling short of a playoff berth was a tough pill to swallow. After some reflection, coach Arians decided to retire from coaching. Though he will be missed throughout the organization, the Cardinals have moved forward, tapping former Carolina Panthers assistant head coach and defensive coordinator Steve Wilks to take over the position. In control of a team for the first time, Wilks is excited to make his mark in Arizona. Click here to learn more about the Arizona Cardinals.