The Arizona Cardinals are the NFL's oldest franchise, having been in existence since 1920 -- but their history goes back to 1898 when they were the Morgan Athletic Club, formed by Chris O'Brien. The Chicago Cardinals entered the American Professional Football Association in 1920, only to later join the National Football League in 1922. The Cardinals won two championships in Chicago before moving to St. Louis in 1960. St. Louis was the franchise's home for 28 years as the franchise moved to Phoenix in 1988.
The Phoenix Cardinals name lasted for six seasons before the franchise changed the name to the Arizona Cardinals, the team name during the organization's lone Super Bowl appearance. The Cardinals have the NFL's longest championship drought, last winning a championship in 1947. Despite decades of futility, the Cardinals still had tremendous players suit up for the franchise over the past 101 seasons.
CBSSports.com's Franchise Five dives into five most impactful people in each NFL's team history. Our rules here bind us to pick just one quarterback, three non-quarterback players and one head coach -- leaving out a few greats in Cardinals history.
We took a look back at the greatest to ever represent the franchise, represented by multiple generations of Cardinals football. Cardinals senior writer Darren Urban, who has worked with the franchise for over 25 years, assisted in the selection of these players.
QB Kurt Warner
Cardinals career: 2005-09
The Cardinals don't have a rich history of good quarterback play, and Jim Hart was a four-time Pro Bowler -- but Warner gets the nod here as the only quarterback to lead the Cardinals to the Super Bowl. Starting all 16 games in that 2008 season, Warner completed 67.1% of his passes for 4,583 yards, 30 touchdowns and 14 interceptions (96.9 rating), taking the Cardinals to their first division title since 1975. Warner raised his game that postseason, throwing for 1,147 yards with 11 touchdowns to just three interceptions (112.2 rating) as the Cardinals led Super Bowl XLIII in the final minute.
Warner had just a 27-30 record with the Cardinals, but completed 65.1% of his passes for 15,843 yards, throwing for 100 touchdowns to just 59 interceptions (91.9 rating). In Warner's final two seasons in Arizona, he threw for 8,336 yards, 56 touchdowns and 28 interceptions. He took his game to another level in the postseason, completing 71.1% of his passes for 1,731 yards, 16 touchdowns and four interceptions (117.4 rating). Per Urban, Warner "changed the culture of the franchise."
Coach Jimmy Conzelman
Cardinals career: 1940-42, 1946-48
The Cardinals haven't won a championship in 73 years, and Conzelman was the coach to bring their last title to the franchise -- when they were in Chicago. Conzelman was just 34-31-3 in six seasons leading the Cardinals, but the franchise has managed a stretch of three consecutive winning seasons only twice since his departure.
Conzelman went 26-9 in his second stint has head coach of the Cardinals as the franchise won the NFL title with their "Million Dollar Backfield" starring Charley Trippi (who signed to a $100,000 contract, which was unheard of at the time). The Cardinals beat the Philadelphia Eagles 28-21 for their second (and most recent) NFL title. Conzelman went 11-1 in his final season coaching the Cardinals (who then lost to the Eagles in the NFL title game) before stepping down and never coaching in the NFL again.
After Conzelman left, the Cardinals had just one winning season until 1960. He was responsible for building the roster of the best team in franchise history.
Cardinals career: 2004-
The greatest player to don a Cardinals uniform and a future first-ballot Hall of Famer, Fitzgerald is still going strong for the Cardinals at 36 years old. In 16 seasons, Fitzgerald is second all-time in receptions (1,378) in the NFL, only 172 catches away from surpassing Jerry Rice. His 17,083 receiving yards are also second in league history, and his 120 touchdown catches are sixth all-time.
Fitzgerald has been selected to the Pro Bowl 11 times, even though he was a first-team All-Pro just once. He led the league in receptions and touchdowns twice, recording five 100-catch seasons and nine 1,000-yard seasons. A member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame 2010s All-Decade Team, Fitzgerald's 2008 postseason is the stuff of legend -- finishing with 30 catches for 546 yards and seven touchdowns in four games (18.2 yards per catch). All are records for catches, yards and touchdowns in a single postseason.
Fitzgerald holds 40 Cardinals franchise records and holds the NFL record with eight seasons of 90-plus catches. His 236 consecutive games with a catch is second in NFL history and is tied for third all-time with five 100-catch seasons. He's one of the top five receivers in NFL history.
DB Larry Wilson
Cardinals career: 1960-72
The greatest defensive player to play for the Cardinals, Wilson is just one of five players to have his number retired by the franchise. Wilson never had the privilege of playing in a postseason game, overshadowing how dominant he was in the Cardinals secondary.
Wilson had multiple interceptions in all 13 of his NFL seasons as his 52 interceptions are the most in franchise history. He led the NFL with 10 interceptions in 1966, including one in seven straight games. He perfected the safety blitz and was one of the best tacklers of his era, allowing defensive coordinator Chuck Drulis to run his "Wildcat" blitz -- the primary reason the Cardinals moved Wilson to safety.
A five-time first-team All-Pro and eight-time Pro Bowler, Wilson was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame on the first ballot in 1978. He's the only player to be selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame All-Decade Team in the 1960s and 1970s, and Wilson's eight Pro Bowl selections were a record when he retired. Wilson once played with two broken hands (both of which were in a cast) in a game, adding to his legacy as one of the toughest players to play the game.
OL Dan Dierdorf
Cardinals career: 1971-83
Before becoming an excellent "Monday Night Football" color commentator and staple on CBS Sports for 14 years, Dierdorf was arguably the greatest tackle of his era. The NFL Players Association selected Dierdorf as the Offensive Lineman of the Year for three consecutive years (1976-78), and he didn't allow a sack in the 1976 and 1977 seasons.
The Cardinals offensive line was the backbone of Don Coryell's offense, setting an NFL record by allowing just eight sacks in 1975 (14 games). The unit allowed the fewest sacks in the NFC from 1974 to 1978, which was Dierdorf's prime. Dierdorf was a first-team All-Pro selection three times and earned six trips to the Pro Bowl, including in five consecutive seasons (1974-78). While right tackle was Dierdorf's primary position, he also was successful at left guard and in emergency duty at center in 1982.
Dierdorf was selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1996.