The Division Champion Cardinals. I've been waiting for that since the 1970's. I became a die-hard fan in the mid-70's, right at the end of the Don Coryell era - the Golden Years of Big Red football. I was thinking today about all the bad memories I have endured as a Cardinal fan since then. A sampling:
- Finishing 10-4 in 1976 and still missing the playoffs.
- I was actually in the house in 1977 when the Tampa Bay Bucs won their first ever home game over the Cards, in the last game for Terry Metcalf as a Bird.
- Starting 0-8 in 1978 during the ill-fated Bud Wilkinson experiment.
- Steve Pisarkiewicz
- All the bad.....check that......horrid draft picks that didn't pan out: Kelly Stouffer, Anthony Bell, Clyde Duncan, John Lee, Garrison Hearst, Andre Wadsworth, etc.
- Watching Neil O'Donaghue miss two 21 yard FGs in OT on Monday Night against the Giants in 1983. The game ended in a tie, and was quite possibly the worst played game in NFL history. And for anyone not familiar, those were not blocked kicks or bad snaps or anything......he just freaking missed them.
- Seeing O-Donaghue's 50 yard desperation attempt miss badly as timed expired against the Redskins in the final game of 1984, a kick that would have given the Cards the NFC East title. The Big Red trailed badly in that game at RFK at halftime, but rallied to take a late lead, but were undone by a Mark Mosely FG. In fairness to O'Donaghue, he was rushed onto the field and had little chance of making that kick. It just highlighted the futility and the frustration though, of just how agonizingly close we came that year.
- Blowing the last game of the season in 1987 to Minnesota, costing the Cards a playoff spot.
- The worst moment of my sports life -- Bill Bidwill moving the Cards out of St. Louis in 1987. (Bidwill is going to hell for this move, by the way).
- Seeing the playoff bound 1988 Phoenix Cardinal season undone by a season ending/career ending hip injury to Neil Lomax. The Cards were 7-4 at the time. Cliff Stoudt took over, and the Cards went 0-5 the rest of the way. I'm convinced that team would have made some noise in the post-season with Lomax at the helm. Lomax remains, in my opinion, the most underrated QB of all time.
- Watching a fake FG hand off to Al Del Greco on 4th and 17......and seeing him shoved out of bounds about 15 yards short of the first down.....as time expired in the first half of a Monday night game against Dallas. Still the most bewildering call I have ever seen.
- Seeing a punter start 10 games for us at QB in 1991.
- Multiple years of seeing the Cardinal first round pick be the final holdout in the league....simply because Bidwill was too cheap to pay anywhere near market value for them.
- Watching the "You've got a winner in town" Buddy Ryan speech in 1994, followed by Ryan systematically dismantling a pretty effective offense over the next two years.
- Seeing Ryan give starts to Jay Shroeder and Jim McMahon at QB during his tenure.
- After an actual playoff victory in 1998, seeing the heart torn out of the team with the off-season departures of Lomas Brown, Jamir Miller and Larry Centers, effectively gutting the team and ending the progress that Vince Tobin had made.
- The Monday Night collapse against the Bears and the Denny Green post-game speech.......enough said.
The reason I highlight all of these frustrations is because it just makes it that much sweeter to finally win the division. For fans of many teams, a division title happens with regularity and is no big deal -- heck even the Lions have won a couple. For lifetime Cards fans though, this is huge, and I don't care how much the rest of the NFC West stinkns this year. For those of us who have endured all of the above, plus more.....we deserve this. Just imagine what it's like to be a long-time fan of the Cardinals. The Division Champion Arizona Cardinals......it's football heaven.to some of us.