Though the Arizona Cardinals aren’t the most successful team in NFL history, they still boast a trifecta of eclectic records: the longest continuously run professional team in the U.S. (originally founded in 1898 as Chicago’s Morgan Athletic Club), the only team to have never lost an NFL playoff game at home, and the team with the longest active title drought (with their last NFL championship win in 1947). Despite a lengthy history that includes their Chicago years, a stint in St. Louis, and a rebirth in Phoenix, the Red Sea has the energy and mindset of a young team. And the Birdgang, the team’s gung-ho fanbase, have grown even more rabid since their Super Bowl XLIII appearance. The Birdgang wears its underdog status with pride, carrying animosity for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the San Francisco 49ers, along with a true grudge for their division rivals, the Seattle Seahawks, whom the Cards see as an omnipresent stumbling block in their route to the Super Bowl. Get your Cardinals tickets and join the crimson-clad Birdgang as they cheer on receiver Larry Fitzgerald and the rest of the Red Sea at the University of Phoenix Stadium.
In 1920, the Chicago-based team now known as the Cardinals joined the NFL and began competing against their cross-town rival, the Chicago Bears. The Cards won both of their NFL championships in the Windy City, although their 1925 championship win was mired in the infamous Milwaukee Badgers scandal. That season, the Cards were trying to catch up to the Pennsylvania Pottsville Maroons when a crafty Cardinals player, Art Folz, hired high school students to fill in for their opponents, the Milwaukee Badgers, thereby ensuring a 58-0 win for the Cardinals and inflating their record. The Maroons engaged in chicanery of their own, and in the fallout, Folz was banned for life and the Badgers team was sold. Despite all the scandalous behavior and the fact that the Cardinals’ win was supposed to be struck from the NFL record books, it remains, which leaves Big Red with a tainted title few fans were alive to see. In 1947, the Cards won a scandal-free title against the Philadelphia Eagles. Then in 1960, seeking higher game attendance, more interested fans, and more accolades, the team moved to St. Louis.
Their St. Louis stint succeeded in confusing the MLB St. Louis Cardinals fans but not in earning them improved NFL standings, so in 1994 Big Red moved to Phoenix and became the Arizona Cardinals. This move paid off in 1998 when quarterback Jake Plummer and safety Pat Tillman helped the team burst phoenix-like from the ashen Arizona desert with their first playoff qualification in 16 years and their first postseason win since 1947. In 2008, Kurt Warner led Arizona’s NFC West team to their first Super Bowl, XLIII, and though they narrowly lost to the Steelers (27-23), the Cards roused their Phoenix fans’ pride, cementing the cardinal-crazed Birdgang’s love for their football team.
After postseason appearances in the 2014 and 2015 seasons, the Cardinals posted back-to-back mediocre seasons and saw Head Coach Bruce Arians retire. The Birdgang hopes their new head coach Steve Wilks and rookie quarterback Josh Rosen, a first-round draft pick, will bring more W’s to the team this season and down the road. Rosen joins the Big Red ranks along with veteran quarterback Sam Bradford, running back David Johnson, and receiver—and living legend—Larry Fitzgerald. In his 15th year as a Cardinal, fan-favorite Fitzgerald draws crowds out of the Phoenix heat and into the stadium, where the Cards hope to rise to victory and forge a path to Super Bowl LIII.
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