History of the Arizona Cardinals’ Championship Performances

Posted by Aaron . on January 22, 2016 in

Did you know that the Arizona Cardinals date all the way back to 1898? That was when Chris O’Brien started a football team in Chicago, calling them the Morgan Athletic Club. They took on the name of the Racine Normals — and then the Racine Cardinals in 1901 because of the color of their uniforms, which O’Brien had bought secondhand from the University of Chicago. Along with the Decatur Staleys (who would become the Chicago Bears), the Cardinals were one of the teams in a pro football circuit around Chicago. The Cardinals and Bears are the only two original charter NFL members who are still around.

Despite the lengthy history of the franchise, the team only has two NFL titles to its credit, and none during the Super Bowl era. The 1925 NFL championship has more controversy around it than any other in the history of pro football. At that time, the league did not have a fixed schedule or any arranged playoff games. The winner was decided on the basis of winning percentage. At the end of the “season,” the Cardinals were sitting in second place after a loss to the Pottsville Maroons, so they quickly scheduled two games against poorer teams, the Hammond Pros and the Milwaukee Badgers. They even hired four Chicago high school football players to take the field for the Badgers under fake names to help the Cardinals win. The extra games were allowed, but once the hiring of the fake players was discovered, the title was given to Pottsville. However, since Pottsville had played an unauthorized exhibition against an all-star team from Notre Dame, the Maroons lost the title, and for a while there was no champion. Finally, the league offered it to the Cardinals, but O’Brien wouldn’t take it, saying it was unfair for Pottsville not to have the title since they had beaten the Cardinals. However, after the Bidwill family bought the team in 1933, the team started to claim that 1925 championship.

The Cardinals’ second (or first, depending on how you look at it) NFL title came in 1947, when the team rolled to a 9-3 record, knocking off the Philadelphia Eagles in the title game, 28-21. The Cardinals had their “Million-Dollar Backfield,” featuring quarterback Paul Christman, fullback Pat Harder, halfback Elmer Angsman and halfback Charley Trippi. The 1948 season saw the Cardinals return to the title game after an 11-1 season, but they lost that game in a rematch with the Eagles, as the teams were playing in a blizzard that almost hid the whole field — in the first NFL championship to appear on television.

The history of Arizona's football team is a rich one.

Arizona would finally make the Super Bowl in 2009, heading to Super Bowl XLIII in Tampa, Florida, to face the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers would win this game, 27-23, making them the first team to claim six Super Bowl titles — and it was the team’s second championship in four seasons. The Cardinals had been a Cinderella story that year, finishing the regular season 9-7 behind the magic of Kurt Warner, the one-time Arena Football League quarterback who had led the St. Louis Rams to the title in Super Bowl XXXIV. Warner threw an interception in the first half that James Harrison would return for a Super Bowl-record 100 yards for a touchdown, and the Cards found themselves down 20-7 after three quarters. Then, though, the Cards put up 16 straight points, including a 64-yard pass to Larry Fitzgerald to give them a 23-20 lead with 2:37 left in the game. However, Ben Roethlisberger led the Steelers on a 78-yard drive, scoring on a six-yard pass to Santonio Holmes with 35 seconds left in the game. Holmes received the MVP for the Super Bowl, having caught nine balls for 131 yards and that touchdown, including four catches for 73 of the team’s 78 yards on that last drive.

Will the Cardinals break through for their first league title in 68 years? We’ll know in a matter of weeks.