These Aren’t Your Father’s Arizona Cardinals


When the Arizona Cardinals moved to Arizona from St. Louis in 1988, it was a great day for football fans in the State of Arizona.  Sure, we weren’t getting the Pittsburgh Steelers or Dallas Cowboys, however we were getting NFL Football.  What we quickly learned though was the Cardinals didn’t like to spend money.  Like choosing Top Ramen over everything else kind of not liking to spend money.  It was no secret it was difficult to get players to come to Arizona to play.  Sun Devil Stadium was a college stadium, it was too hot to play there in September and October, but they did anyway, the concessions were horrible and the tailgaiting was even worse.  Clearly, even if the Cards had the money to spend, they didn’t do it.  They even almost moved away a couple of times.

Now, flash forward a few years and things seemed to get better.  At least you had people willing to come to the Arizona Cardinals.  Emmitt Smith came and finished his career here, although he didn’t amount to much in a Cardinals uniform.  However, he still thought highly enough of the Cards to come.  Then came the big day the Cardinals moved into their new stadium, University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale. Times started to change.

The Cards started attracting better talent and drafting better players. Larry Fitrzgerald, drafted in 2004, he even played played two seasons at Sun Devil as well.  Then Matt Leinart was drafted in 2006.  Then in 2007 free agent running back Edgerrin James made the move from the eventual Super Bowl Champion Indianapolis Colts to the Cards.  At the time, the biggest free agent splash they had made.  The Cards were making progress.

In 2008 of course, that was the big year.  The Super Bowl season.  That really put the Cardinals back on the NFL map.  However after a second playoff appearance in 2009, things seemingly were starting to fall flat again after the retirement of quarterback Kurt Warner.  That left the Cardinals in a quarterback mess for 2010.  The team dropped back to last place with a 5-11 record and quite frankly, I think the Cards were a little more than embarrassed by that.  You just had an idea that that Cards would do everything in their power to turn things around and quickly.

Now, its July 2011.  The NFL Lockout has ended.  Free agency has begun.  Trades are consummated.  The Cards started with the pickup of potential Pro-Bowler Kevin Kolb.  Then just today, they pick up the highly coveted tight end Todd Heap, a local product who in the end decided he wanted to play at home in Arizona.  Home or no home, Heap would not have decided to play here five or six years ago even if the Cards offered gold.

Times have changed.  The Cardinals are going for it.  The realize they have to listen to their fans and in order to keep that fan base, they have to do everything they can within spending limits to get that done.  Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that the new Collective Bargaining Agreement stipulates the Cards have to spend at least 90 percent of the $120 million salary cap.  These aren’t your father’s Arizona Cardinals.