In March 1994, the Cardinals were given a new name: the Arizona Cardinals. But apart from the new name there is nothing new about the Cardinals because they are the team that is active without interruption for the longest time in American football: The history of the team extends to the year 1898 and begins in Chicago.
In 1898, Chris O’Brien founded the Morgan Athletic Club. A few years later – the team had little money – he was able to buy the used jerseys from the University of Chicago. The color was already washed out a little bit and O’Brien described it as “Cardinal Red”. And so the team that played at the Racine Street at that time chose an obvious name: Racine Street Cardinals.
In 1920, the Chicago Cardinals were one of the founders of the NFL in the National Football Conference. The Cardinals also got a local challenger, the Chicago Tigers who joined shortly after the founding of the league. O’Brien and the Cardinals challenged the Tigers for a game and agreed that the loser has to leave the city and find a new home. The Cardinals won the game and thus the city of Chicago when the legendary John “Paddy” Driscoll scored the only touchdown for the Cardinals 6-3 win, while the fate of the Tigers was sealed. The Tigers no longer competed for the championship in the next year.
But the Cardinals could not enjoy their supremacy in Chicago for a long time: In 1921, George S. Halas moved his Decatur Staleys over to Chicago and renamed the team to Chicago Bears a little later. Apart from the 1925 season when they won their first NFL title, the Cardinals were not very successful in the 1920s and 1930s. However, they hold the oldest NFL record: On Thanksgiving 1929, the legendary Cardinals running back Enie Nevers scored all the points of his team in a 40:6 victory over the Chicago Bears. This record will probably hold forever.
Since 1932, when Charles W. Bidwill bought the Cardinals, the team is owned by the family. Bidwill managed to keep the team alive during the depression years and world war 2 and towards the end of the 1940s the Cardinals saw their best times: In 1947, they won the NFL Championship for the second time. The 28:21 victory over the Philadelphia Eagels was their last playoff victory until 1998, when they were able to defeat the Dallas Cowboys with 20:7. The team of head coach Jimmy Conzelman was especially known for it “dream backfield” with Charley Trippi, Paul Christman, Pat Harder, Marshall Goldberg and Elmer Angsman.
From 1960, the Cardinals became to the migratory birds of the league: In 1960, the team left Chicago and moved to St. Louis. In 1988, the Cardinals moved to another city once again and settled in Phoenix. Until 1994, they played as the Phoenix Cardinals, after that as the Arizona Cardinals. But wherever the Cardinals played: They did not have a lot of luck. They hardly ever qualified for the playoffs and they could only dream of wins in the postseason. In 2008, however, the Cardinals won their division for the first time after 33 years and it made a lot of fun again to watch Arizona Cardinals games. Moreover, they moved on into the Super Bowl, where they were defeated by the Pittsburgh Steelers, though.