The Arizona Cardinals were founded as the Morgan Athletic Club in 1898 when a group from a neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side gathered to play. Little did the group know, they just founded the NFL’s oldest running franchise to date.
They became an original member of the American Professional Football Association, later known as the NFL, controversially winning their first NFL Championship in 1925.
Known at the time as the Chicago Cardinals, they would struggle as a team between 1926 and 1945, finishing over .500 just once before defeating the Philadelphia Eagles to win the 1947 NFL Championship.
They saw the Championship stage again in 1948, this time losing to Philadelphia.
From 1949 to 1973, the Cardinals underwent sweeping changes, first relocating to St. Louis prior to the 1960 season to become the St. Louis Cardinals, but the move didn’t help the team’s on-field performance, as they wouldn’t even sniff the NFL playoffs until 1974 and 1975, four seasons after they became members of the NFC East.
However, the team blew their chances and lost both playoff games in back to back seasons.
After a truncated 1982 season due to a player strike, the Cardinals lost their third postseason appearance since 1948.
Following the 1982 playoff loss, another drought occurred plus the franchise’s second relocation, this one to Phoenix, Arizona, where they were dubbed the Phoenix Cardinals from 1987 to 1993. After changing their name to the Arizona Cardinals to better reflect with the State of Arizona in 1994, the Cardinals made their fourth playoff appearance a few seasons later in 1998, this time facing the NFC East Champion and then-division rival, the Dallas Cowboys.
1998 proved to be a pivotal season, as the 9-7 Cards snuck into the playoffs and unseated the Cowboys for their first playoff win in 51 seasons.
Yet another drought followed between 1999 and 2007, one which saw the team finish under .500 each year until 2008, when they again snuck into the playoffs at 9-7, this time winning their first division championship (NFC West) since 1975. The Cardinals stunned the NFL universe that season, knocking off the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, and Philadelphia Eagles, appearing in their very first Super Bowl against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
In a game that will be remembered throughout the ages, the Cardinals went down 20-7 before roaring back in the fourth quarter to take a 23-20 lead with minutes to go in the game. Sadly, it wasn’t meant to be as Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers drove down the field one final time, finishing with an iconic touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes to seal the team’s fate, 27-23 in what is arguably one of the greatest Super Bowls ever played.
A few lean years followed after 2009, when the team again won the NFC West plus a wild, wildcard playoff game against the Green Bay Packers before heading to New Orleans and losing to the Saints. However, in 2015, the Cards finished 13-3, where they made the NFC Championship Game before a blowout loss to the Panthers.
Since 2015, the Cardinals have been on the downswing, but after securing the Number One Overall Pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, they selected Kyler Murray from Oklahoma with hopes that he will bring stability back to the always unstable franchise.
Arizona Cardinals Quick Hits
State Farm Stadium, Glendale, Arizona
Cardinal red, black, white
Larry Fitzgerald, Pat Tillman, Aeneas Williams, Kurt Warner
Oldest NFL franchise. Founded as Chicago Cardinals.
Notable Helmets Through the Years
Main Article: The Arizona Cardinals Helmet History
Main Article: History of the Arizona Cardinals Jerseys