The Arizona Cardinals were born during simpler times. In fact, the franchise can trace its roots all the way back to the streets of South Side Chicago more than 100 years ago. Known as the Morgan Athletic Club then, the organization began as just a group of guys in the neighborhood. In addition to the Windy City, the Cardinals also represented the town of St. Louis before touching down in the Southwest to start anew. No matter where home has been, the oldest, longest-running professional football team in history has made its mark by competing valiantly every time its starting eleven steps on the field.
In 1920, the franchise joined the NFL. They had spent the preceding 22 years under the watch of owner Chris O’Brien, who not only purchased their first uniforms, but also named them. After getting a great deal on some slightly worn jerseys, O’Brien took one look at the faded maroon sweaters and proclaimed, “That’s not maroon, it’s Cardinal red!” The moniker became synonymous with success in 1925, when the club posted the best record in the league and was awarded the championship.
Arguably, the first star player to ever suit up for the squad was running back Ernie Nevers, who arrived in ‘29. At the Thanksgiving Day game that year, Nevers charged into the league record books when he scored six touchdowns and kicked four extra points to set the bar for the highest individual scoring output ever. The awesome offensive performance would serve as a high point for the franchise up until ‘47, when the “Million Dollar Backfield” of Charley Trippi, Marshall Goldberg, Pat Harder and Elmer Angsman carried the crew to championship glory. Angsman galloped his way to two touchdowns and Trippi punched in two as well, and the Cardinals downed the Philadelphia Eagles to claim their second NFL title.
Over the course of the next 60 years, the club played in St. Louis and Arizona but only booked five playoff appearances. However, the 2008 season would see the franchise soar all the way to the Super Bowl. While they lost the contest to the Pittsburgh Steelers, wideout Larry Fitzgerald emerged as one of the modern era’s brightest stars. Running parallel to the Pro Bowl receiver’s ascent, the Cardinals’ home, University of Phoenix Stadium, was celebrated in its own right as one of the most remarkable, state-of-the-art coliseums in the country.
If fans have ever lost faith in the organization, you wouldn’t know it based on attendance, as the Cardinals routinely play in front of sellout crowds. Diehards wear red from head to toe to form the mighty “Red Sea,” and they erupt in unison when the aptly named “Big Red” Siren is cranked up prior to the start of each game. It’s been a wild ride for supporters thus far, but hope springs eternal in the desert. Put another way, you simply can’t count the Cardinals out.