Arizona Cardinals go outside organization for latest general manager
By Jim Koch
It’s been almost 30 years since the Arizona Cardinals ownership went outside of the organization to hire a general manager.
This past Monday, Arizona Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill did something that the franchise hasn’t done since 1994. Longtime fans of the team can’t help but feel that good things lie ahead, thanks to an old habit of the Redbirds that’s been broken by Bidwill.
For the first time in almost 30 years, Arizona hired an outside candidate to take over as the club’s general manager. Monte Ossenfort, an executive with 23 years of NFL experience, will replace the departed Steve Keim. What tempted Bidwill to finally come out of what apparently transformed into a comfort zone for the Cards?
Ossenfort’s impressive front-office credentials more than likely piqued Bidwill’s interest. For the past three seasons, the 44-year-old has served as the Director of player personnel for the Tennessee Titans. Before taking that position, Ossenfort spent 13 years in the scouting department of the New England Patriots.
Bidwill bypassed a trio of internal candidates in favor of Ossenfort. Adrian Wilson and Quentin Harris, the duo who replaced Keim when he fell ill in December, both interviewed for the full-time gig. Bidwill also met with Cardinals Director of football administration Matt Harris in his quest to fill the position.
Buddy Ryan was the last Arizona Cardinals GM that wasn’t promoted internally
The last time that the team’s general manager post was filled by an external candidate was back in ’94, when the late Buddy Ryan came to the desert. The architect of the “46” defense announced that Arizona finally had a “winner in town”, but his brief stint was not memorable in the least. In his two campaigns as the Cards’ head coach/GM, Ryan’s squad amassed an ugly 12-20 record.
Bob Ferguson took over for Ryan in 1996, and would remain in that spot until 2001. In 1998, “Big Red” made it to the postseason for the first time in 16 years with Ferguson shaping the roster.
Rod Graves replaced Ferguson in 2002, and would remain the Cardinals’ general manager for the next 11 seasons. The team got into the playoffs twice with Graves at the helm, and represented the NFC in the Super Bowl following the 2008 campaign.
Keim retained his job with Arizona for 10 years before he stepped down as the organization’s GM just over a week ago. The 50-year-old assembled a squad that made a pair of postseason appearances, and got to the NFC Championship game after going 13-3 in 2015.
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