An incredible night at the University of Phoenix Stadium with the Arizona Cardinals taking on the Green Bay Packers in the NFC playoffs. MY BAD TEQUILA’s Cardinals defeated the Pack 51 – 45 in OT for the most points scored in a wild card playoff game, total 96 points of Offense, touchdown after touchdown, this game was anything but ho-hum or boring. What makes this Cardinal team special? You need to know the history to understand why this underdog has been the NFL red headed step child for so long. The Cardinals have been pushed around and moved from city to city for years.
Chicago Cardinals were an established club in 1898 and are the oldest continuously run professional American Football team in the United States. The Cardinals along with the Chicago Bears were two of the charter members of the NFL (National Football League) in 1920 and the only one still in operation. The only NFL Championship that the Cardinals have had in franchise history was in 1947, twenty years before the first Super Bowl was ever played.
The Cardinals moved to St. Louis in 1960 (fantastic year), the same year that an outstanding rookie named Larry Wilson, a ferocious hitting safety began playing for the St. Louis Cardinals. Larry played until 1972 and was inducted into the hall of fame in 1978. Larry’s stats included 52 interceptions, returning 5 Touchdowns and 800 yards, all while playing on the defensive side of the football. In 1999, Mr. Wilson was ranked number 43 on ‘The Sporting News’ list of the ‘100 Greatest Football Players’, making him the highest ranked player to have played a majority of his career with the Cardinal franchise. Larry was ranked #9 on NFL Network’s list of the “Top 10 Draft Steals” in NFL history as he was drafted in the seventh round in 1960 by the St. Louis Cardinals. If you doubt the toughness of Larry Wilson, consider this: Wilson played and intercepted a pass with casts on both hands due to two broken wrists. I was fortunate enough to have met Larry during a Super Bowl Party in 1996 in Phoenix when the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers met up in the ‘Valley of the Sun,’ letting the Cowboys reclaim their Super Bowl Title and once again become America’s Team.
The Phoenix Cardinals rolled into town in 1988, three years prior to my entrance into the ‘Land of the Sun’ and were the doormat to the NFC Central Division. Phoenix Cardinals didn’t even have their own stadium; they shared and paid royalties to the Arizona State University and took turns painting the field from Red and White to Maroon and Yellow during the football season. When I arrived in 1991 and went to my first ever NFL game between the Phoenix Cardinals and the New York Giants, I thought I had been transported during the waking hours without my knowledge to New York Stadium as the only colors I saw were blue, blue, blue and a different shade of blue. While ordering popcorn or beer I and a few other lonely Cardinal fans were intimidated at the (home stadium of ASU). A few weeks later I went to another supposedly home game against the Chicago Bears, again DA Bears here, DA Bears there, there was DA Bears everywhere. A few scared Cardinal fans in red, shivering in 80 degree weather as we were afraid to cheer for our sad Cardinals when a rare first down was obtained, in fear for our lives at a displaced Soldier Field in Tempe, Arizona. This went on for years, never having a 40% ratio of Cardinal Fans to opposing team fans.
The Arizona Cardinals name change was a marketing strategy to incorporate the residents of metropolitan area Tucson and out lying communities such as Flagstaff, Yuma, Show Low and Prescott to have buy in for an NFL franchise. In 1994 the Phoenix Cardinals were now the Arizona Cardinals and attendance improved at Sundevil Stadium. Still Dallas had more attending fans, Giants, Redskins, Philadelphia, Chicago, the list went on and on; however, a Cardinal Fan had a fighting chance if his group picked the right opposing fan group to (dance) with. In 1998 the Cardiac Cards made the NFL playoffs for the first time since 1947, ending the longest drought in professional sports history. Led by quarterback Jake Plummer, a second round draft pick in 1997 and a hometown favorite as he had played and started for four years at ASU and a trip to the Rose Bowl; the Cardinals defeated the Dallas Cowboys in Irving, Texas. We lost the next game to the Minnesota Vikings, but we didn’t care; at last our team had made it to the post season.
In 2006 the Cardinals finally get their own football stadium in the Phoenix valley after 18 years of borrowing a fraternity’s stadium. University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona became the overnight sensation and the first Fiesta Bowl ever played there on January 1, 2007 was named the Greatest College Game of All Time.’ Undefeated #9 Broncos played #8 Oklahoma Sooners in a Double Overtime Shootout – final score 43 – 42, Broncos completing their season 13 – 0 against the heavily favored Sooners.
Jump ahead to 2008, Cardinals with a 9 – 7 record win the NFC West Division and are once again in the playoffs, this time with a large fan base following their beloved QB #13 Kurt Warner and his favorite target, wide receiver #11 Larry Fitzgerald. We make it all the way to the Super Bowl to the surprise of most; except the true Cardinal fans that have stuck by them in the valley for 20 years. Ironically, the Pittsburgh Steelers steel our victory on the last play of the game to secure their legend and six Super Bowl rings for their storied franchise.
2009 and the Cardinals again win their division, now two years in a row, are in the playoffs facing the Green Bay Packers who had destroyed the Cardinals a week earlier on Lambeau Field. MY BAD TEQUILA is there to witness the highest scoring wildcard playoff game in history, a total of 96 points. End result, Cardinals 51 to the Packers 45 points equal 96 total offensive points in an overtime game. How to add even more excitement for a long time Cardinal Fan named Rico, throw him into a suite with Rod Stewart and Jon Bon Jovi. This is the part I hate, I promised not to tell of which company I was a guest of that included these Hall of Famer Rock and Rollers into its fold. Both Rockers were dressed in red and Jon Bon Jovi sported an Arizona Cardinal ball cap, so it is safe to say, both are Cardinal fans. Then, later as I was making my way to my vehicle on foot, my dear old friend #8 Larry Wilson spots me and waves me over to chat with him and his lovely wife. What a night.
Cardinals have only retired five jerseys in three different cities: Chicago was #77 Stan Mauldin and #99 Marshall Goldberg; St. Louis has retired my great friend #8 Larry Wilson and #88 J.V. Cain; Only one lone jersey has been put away in Arizona, that of #40 Pat Tillman RIP, whom quit football and gave away a lucrative contract to serve his country as an Army Ranger. Tillman, did what he thought was best for him and his fellow countrymen, to protect Our Great Nation from terrorism.
MY BAD TEQUILA has four heroes that have played for the Cardinals: Larry Wilson, Jake Plummer, Pat Tillman and Kurt Warner.
You may be confused or ask why Kurt Warner and/or Jake Plummer? Jake Plummer - because I knew him, a fellow Boise, Idaho native; he was also a best friend of Pat Tillman at ASU and within the Arizona Cardinal organization. I played pool in a country bar honky tonk one night with Tillman and Plummer, had a great time and witnessed their closeness as true friends. Jake Plummer was devastated by the news of Pat Tillman’s untimely death, professional football no longer was the most important thing in the world to Jake and I respect that. Kurt Warner is also one of my heroes, not only for winning a Super Bowl for the St. Louis Rams and taking my beloved Cardinals to the Super Bowl last year but for being an incredible human being and taking care of and raising two children that were not his own flesh and blood. Want to read about an incredible man, Google Kurt Warner personal life and see what you get. Next time you see the Cardinals in a playoff game, think about our history and heartache of past and then you might realize why we may get a little crazy with a win.
Tequila Time: After such an invigorating night, meeting and having a margarita with Jon Bon Jovi and Rod Stewart, seeing an overtime game with the most points ever scored in a playoff game with my Cardinal team winning, topping if off with seeing a dear old Amigo – Larry Wilson I had to come home and pour myself a shot of Cabo Wabo. Only one thing would have made the night better, had my Amigo, Sammy Hagar had shared a shot of the tequila that he made famous with yours truly.
Saludos, Uncle Rico
Author, Writer & CEO – MY BAD TEQUILA
“Have a Double Shot of Reality”