Even on their way to the Super Bowl, the Cardinals don't deserve Tom's love

When the Arizona Cardinals completed the trifecta of playoff games leading up to the team's most-improbable appearance in the Super Bowl this coming Sunday, even the most casual sports fan in Arizona appeared poised to jump on the bandwagon. Well, they can have my spot, because I'm not jumping. (People who know me will probably claim that I haven't jumped for any reason in years, but that's beside the point.) As long as that team in that city is owned by that family, I want nothing to do with the Arizona Cardinals.

I'm not (as some might suggest) a professional againster. At best, I'm only semi-pro at that. But I've got a good reason for this one, and it's been stewing for a long, long time.

As the Cardinals finished off the Philadelphia Eagles, I thought about a meeting I had had back in the 1980s. I was writing for the long-defunct Tucson Magazine and I was to interview a couple of guys who had put together a dazzlingly good business plan. The cards were those of John D. Colbrunn and National Football League legend Bart Starr. They were partners in something called Arizona NFL Expansion, Ltd. and were working toward starting an NFL expansion team in the Valley of the Sun.

At the time, Phoenix was the largest metropolitan area in the country without an NFL team. (L.A. still had a team--and sometimes two--back then.) The booming area was considered a shoo-in for an expansion team and Arizona NFL Expansion was a front-runner to grab that coveted spot.

Starr's and Colbrunn's group was going first-class all the way. They had plans to build a stadium--with no public funding!--somewhere in the Chandler area, so that it would easily accessible to people from Tucson, as well as from all parts of the Valley. From the very beginning, the team was going to be called the Arizona Whatevers (I preferred Gila Monsters, but they hadn't settled on a name). They promised to work hard, not take shortcuts, hire the best people, and become competitive in the shortest possible time and for the longest possible run.

To demonstrate their ability to do things right, they put on an NFL preseason game involving the Denver Broncos. It drew a crowd of 65,000 to Sun Devil Stadium on a hot August night. Everyone involved in that endeavor was ecstatic with its planning, execution, and success. NFL expansion to Arizona was all but a done deal.

Then enter Bill Bidwill, the greatest living proof that a person doesn't have to be smart to be rich or even to get rich. Bless their departed hearts, but my mother used to say that God looks out for drunks and idiots, so my dad had double coverage. I don't know if Bidwill drinks, but he certainly catches far more breaks that he deserves.

Bidwill's father started the Cardinals franchise in Chicago to challenge the Bears, not unlike the White Sox to the Cubs. The Chicago Cardinals actually won an NFL title before George Halas' Bears ran them out of town. They went downstate, then crossed the river into Missouri and became the St. Louis Cardinals. That meant that they had the same name as that city's baseball team, but then again, nobody ever said that "Bidwill" was Latin (or any other language) for "genius."

For decades, the St. Louis Cardinal football team went from bad to sorta good, but because of the way the NFL is set up, with revenue sharing and all (one guy once said that he and his fellow owners were "32 Republicans who vote Socialist"), Bidwill learned that he could cash a big fat check at the end of the year whether his team was good or not. So why bother, right?

So, with the NFL set to expand in a couple years, all the city of Phoenix had to do was sit back and wait for the offer and then hand things over to Colbrunn and partners. But Bidwill, seeing an opportunity, decided that he would like his poorly run team to move to the Valley of the Sun. Phoenix officials could have done a little background check and realized that the Cardinals were one of the worst outfits in all of pro sports. Instead, Phoenix started salivating and it got real ugly, real quick. It was like two hookers trying to sell themselves to each other.

Ever since, it's been bad football, bad management and lousy treatment of the paying customers. They started out by lying and saying that it would be the Arizona Cardinals and then naming the team the Phoenix Cardinals. Then, after attendance plummeted, they switched to Arizona, which didn't help. They threatened to skip town if the taxpayers didn't build them a stadium and they got one that's closer to Las Vegas than Tucson.

For years, it's been bad football and the only thing worse than the coaching has been the bad draft picks. Now, all of a sudden, they're unlikely winners and we're all supposed to be giddy. I like Kurt Warner; I like Larry Fitzgerald, and I used to like Anquan Boldin until he turned into a whiny bitch because coach wouldn't let him play, boo-hoo.

As for the Cardinals, you can have them. As long as Bidwill owns that team, I'm not a fan.

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