The Arizona Cardinals franchise is the oldest in professional football history. Founded in 1898, the organization has played in Chicago, St. Louis and now Phoenix, Arizona.
During that time they’ve won 2 League Championships (1925, 1947) pre 1970AFL-NFL merger, a NFC Championship (2008), 7 division championships and made the playoffs 10 times. Their 535 regular season victories is tied for 8th in NFL history (16 playoff wins).
When you have this type of longevity, it’s difficult to narrow a list of the best players in team history to four. But, that’s the challenge and fun of this exercise. Following are the four men who I feel best represents the Cards.
- No owners, unless they were also coaches, and their place on this list is based on their contributions as coach. No General Managers or Personnel executives. Just those who directly affected the games on Sunday. I will make a separate list for those contributors soon.
- Key contributors to the team’s history and success, not just fan favorites or box office draws.
- Can you tell the franchise’s story without them? If no, they’re on the list.
Aeneas Williams (1991-2000) , the 2014 Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive back finished his 10- year Cardinals career with 46 interceptions, 8 touchdown returns, 6 Pro-Bowls, 3 1st-team All-Pro selections and another 2nd-team selection, before moving on to the St. Louis Rams for his final four seasons. Williams is a member of the NFLs 1990s All-Decade team, and was inducted into the Cardinals Ring of Honor in 2008.
Larry Fitzgerald (2004-present) is writing the final pages of one of the greatest careers at the wide receiver position in NFL history. “Fitz” is the franchise’s all-time leading receiver in receptions (1018), yards (13,366) and touchdowns (98), as well as 3 other franchise records, and he’s done majority of that without a fellow pro-bowler at quarterback. He also holds 13 NFL records, the most memorable of them is his 7 touchdown receptions in the 2008 when he helped lead the team to the Super Bowl XLIII. He’s been selected to 9 Pro-Bowl’s, a 1-time 1st-team All-Pro and twice a 2nd-team All-Pro.
Dick Lane (1960–1965) starred for the L.A. Rams and Chicago Cardinals, in addition to the Lions. He still holds the NFL record for intercepting 14 passes in a season as a Cardinal. Overall he was a 7-time Pro Bowl (1954–1956, 1958, 1960–1962) and 10-time All-Pro (1956, 1959–1963, 1954, 1955, 1957, 1958) selection. “Night Train” is a member of the NFL 50th and 75th Anniversary Teams, the 1950s NFL All-Decade team and the Cardinals Ring of Honor. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1974.
Dan Dierdorf (1971-1983) is known by most young pro football fans as an exceptional broadcaster that led to him being honored with Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award, presented by the Pro Football Hall of Fame “for longtime exceptional contributions to radio and television in professional football.” But, before that, Dierdorf spent his entire 13-year Hall of Fame (enshrined in 1996) career with the St. Louis Cardinals. The offensive tackle was a 6-time Pro-Bowler, 5-time 1st team All-Pro, 1-time 2nd team All-Pro, 3-time NFLPA NFC offensive lineman of the year and a member of the NFL’s 1970’s All-Decade team. He was inducted into the Cardinals Ring of Honor in 2006.