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A day of flashbacks for St. Louis fans

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  • A day of flashbacks for St. Louis fans

    By Bernie Miklasz
    Monday, Dec. 08 2008
    GLENDALE, Ariz. For a visitor from St. Louis, it was a surreal experience to
    stop by the Arizona Cardinals' locker room and stand near the afterglow of the
    franchise's first division title since 1975.

    After the Cardinals wiped out the Rams 34-10, team owner Bill Bidwill was
    hanging out with Larry Wilson and Jim Hart and Kurt Warner. Given each man's
    strong historical connections to St. Louis, you didn't know if you were in
    Arizona, Missouri, or the Twilight Zone.

    You expected Don Coryell and Dick Vermeil to walk in and join the fun. You
    didn't know whether to be happy or sad, watching this blended family of former
    Cardinals and former Rams come together to celebrate an important victory.

    "It was great to have the old timers back," said Wilson, the originator of the
    safety blitz and the first St. Louis Cardinal to be inducted into the Pro
    Football Hall of Fame. "We were up in the end zone yelling like hell. I'm about
    as hoarse as you can get."

    The star attractions: Warner and Hart, together.


    Hart and Warner, the last two Cardinals quarterbacks to lead the franchise to
    division championship. Hart did it in 1975, Warner this season.

    Hart and Warner are, without question, the two greatest quarterbacks in St.
    Louis NFL history.

    And on this day they shared a triumphant moment.

    Welcome to the crossroads of past and present.

    Hart appreciates Warner but joked that he REALLY appreciates Warner's
    receivers, Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald.

    "Kurt throws the ball so well," Hart said. "And boy, does he have some targets.
    I was watching that first quarter and I turned to somebody and said, 'I can't
    believe how open the Cardinals receivers are. I think I could throw to those
    guys today.' Don't get me wrong. I liked the guys that I played with. But it's
    like I always told Mel Gray and Pat Tilley, 'Gee whiz, I wish you guys were
    three inches taller.' ''

    Warner, ever the gentleman, wanted Hart to know how much it meant to have him
    there on this big day. Hart was the Cardinals' honorary team captain. He was
    joined by a gang of 1970s-era St. Louis teammates that included Wilson, Bob
    Rowe, Steve Jones, Terry Miller, Donny Anderson, Tim Kearney, Keith Wortman,
    Ron Yankowski, Tom Brahaney, Tim Van Galder and Jerry Holloway (who sang the
    national anthem).

    "It was terrific to recognize those Cardinals," Warner said. "Men like Jim Hart
    defined the organization during a successful period, and in a sense they paved
    the way for all of us. It added to the day to have them here."

    When Bidwill moved the Cardinals to Arizona in 1988, it left an opening for the
    Los Angeles Rams to move to St. Louis in 1995. And that led to a Super Bowl
    parade in downtown St. Louis.

    But just when you thought that St. Louis was better off with the Rams instead
    of the Cardinals, the Rams have gone into an extreme, depressing dive. They've
    turned into Bidwill's old St. Louis Cardinals (1960-1987), who missed making
    the playoffs in 25 of their 28 seasons.

    And now Bidwill's Cardinals suddenly are the 2.0 version of the St. Louis Rams'
    "Greatest Show on Turf."

    The role reversal is difficult to comprehend. Winning has been a long time
    coming for Bidwill. That's why, when fullback Terrelle Smith saw the owner in
    the locker room, he shouted, "Mr. B! You're a champ! How does that feel? You're
    a champ!"

    Bidwill smiled. He was wearing a "Division Champion" cap.

    "He's really happy," Cardinals team President Michael Bidwill said. "This is
    the first time he's gotten a hat."

    Putting Michael Bidwill in charge was Bill Bidwill's smartest move. Michael,
    44, has rejuvenated the family business with his expert leadership in
    new-stadium construction and team rebuilding.

    Some sentimental old-school St. Louis football fans were probably pleased by
    Sunday's developments. And I'd have to think that most St. Louis fans are happy
    to see Warner's remarkable comeback in the Valley of the Sun.

    "It's one of those deals, like St. Louis, where a losing culture has been in
    place," Warner said. "And to be a part of changing that culture is special. I
    don't think people really understand how difficult that is to get the right
    people in place and teach them how to win. It's definitely been sweet for me to
    be a part of another situation where we've turned the corner."

    Who said there were no second acts in American life?

    It was Warner who helped revive the Rams in 1999 after the franchise had
    endured nine consecutive losing seasons.

    And now he's trying to do the same for Bidwill's Cardinals.

    Warner will be in the 2008 NFL playoffs.

    And he's taking Bill Bidwill and his new pals from the 1975 Cardinals with him.


Related Topics


  • RamWraith
    Former St. Louis football Cardinals can clinch title -- against St. Louis Rams
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    Thursday, Dec. 04 2008
    For Bill Bidwill's football franchise, moments like this appear with the
    frequency of Halley's comet. But a victory Sunday by Bidwill's Arizona
    Cardinals clinches the franchise's first home playoff game since Harry S.
    Truman was president.

    One must go back to Dec. 28, 1947, when the Chicago Cardinals defeated
    Philadelphia 28-21 in the NFL championship game at Comiskey Park, to find the
    one and only Cardinals home playoff game.

    That's not the only long playoff drought that's about to end for the team known
    as the Big Red during its 28-season stay in St. Louis.

    The Cardinals haven't appeared in a playoff game since 1998, the longest
    active playoff drought in the league.

    They haven't won a division title since 1975, when coach Don Coryell's St.
    Louis Cardinals went 11-3 in the regular season.

    Jim Hanifan, current Rams radio analyst, was offensive line coach for that '75
    team, which featured three Hall of Famers (offensive tackle Dan Dierdorf, tight
    end Jackie Smith and cornerback Roger Wehrli).

    The thunder-and-lightning backfield consisted of Jim Otis and Terry Metcalf.
    Mel Gray was the deep threat at wide receiver, with Jim Hart at quarterback.
    The offensive line yielded only eight sacks, which was an NFL record until the
    1988 Miami Dolphins allowed only seven. Jim Bakken was the clutch place-kicker
    for a team known as the Cardiac Cards: five of their 11 victories came by a
    touchdown or less.

    "It was a fun team and it had a tremendous attitude about itself," Hanifan
    said. "They felt, as time went on in that season, that they would not ever be
    denied. That they were going to win every game."

    But back then, only four teams made the playoffs in each conference, so winning
    your division didn't guarantee a home game. Alas, the Cardinals were the No. 3
    seed and lost their first-round game at Los Angeles against the Rams 35-23.

    Between 1974-76, the Cardinals went 31-11. That was the best it would get for
    pro football in St. Louis until a group known as the Greatest Show on Turf
    arrived in town a quarter-century later.

    But back then, in the mid '70s, "I thought we were going to continue on,"
    Hanifan recalled. "We had a great nucleus of football players."

    The success didn't last, nor did the Cardinals in St. Louis. The franchise
    moved to the Phoenix area after the 1987 season, where the best record it could
    manage was a 9-7 wild-card finish in '98.

    But that's all about to change. If the heavily favored Cardinals (7-5) defeat
    the Rams (2-10) Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium, they...
    -12-04-2008, 05:37 AM
  • Chiledog
    Could a Warner-led Cardinals team...
    by Chiledog
    Could a Warner-led Cardinals team really have all they need to win our division? Could Kurt do with the lowly Cards the same that he did with the 99 Rams? Could this come back to bite us in the end?

    You heard it here first
    Warner will lead Cardinals to their first NFC West title,
    by Michael Silver of S.I.

    You might not have realized it from the gloomy pronouncements of the people in my business, but Kurt Warner was the most sought-after quarterback in free agency this past offseason, a clear sign that coaches and personnel experts viewed the two-time MVP's nine-game stint as the New York Giants' starter far more favorably than most of us might have imagined.

    It was entirely fitting, then, that the news of Warner's eventual signing with the Arizona Cardinals was broken not by a football writer, but by some dude in tight shorts, a golf shirt and a dorky Mickey Mouse hat.

    I may be taking some liberties with the Scoopmeister's appearance, but Warner came to his decision around the time he was visiting Disney World, as he does every February, with a group of terminally ill children as part of his affiliation with the Make-a-Wish foundation. On this particular afternoon, Warner was participating in an open forum at an interactive studio at the theme park, and one of the 150 or so people who'd stumbled into the room asked the 33-year-old where he planned to sign.

    "You know," Warner replied. "I'm pretty sure I'm going to be an Arizona Cardinal."

    Suffice it to say, this wasn't the answer the folks in that studio expected. Heck, it wasn't even the answer Warner had expected until a few days earlier. Contacted by virtually every team that went quarterback-shopping in the offseason, Warner pondered overtures from San Francisco, Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago and Miami. The Cardinals were late to enter the mix, but once they did, Dennis Green and his assistants put on a full-court press.

    That, more than anything, was what Warner sought. Having endured a rocky end to his once-charmed run with the St. Louis Rams and an untimely benching to hasten the development of would-be Giants savior Eli Manning, Warner was in full Cheap Trick mode: I want you to want me.

    "They were extremely excited to have me be a part of their organization," Warner said of the Cardinals this past Wednesday morning, a few hours before Green officially named him the team's 2005 starter. "That, more than anything, made it a good fit. Once they got involved, it just felt right."

    Get Warner going, and he will display a salesperson's enthusiasm for his new team's prospects in 2005 -- a pitch that, upon closer examination, makes a great deal of sense. Despite a dubious legacy attributable largely to the Bidwill family's shaky and chintzy ownership approach, the Cards have been getting their house in order since they
    -05-27-2005, 04:30 PM
  • ramstiles
    Kurt Warner tells TMZ Sports he feels more allegiance to the Arizona Cardinals
    by ramstiles
    He took 'em BOTH to Super Bowls ... but Kurt Warner tells TMZ Sports he feels more allegiance to the Arizona Cardinals than the St. Louis Rams.

    Kurt was in NYC yesterday when he explained why ... saying it's due to the fact AZ was the last place he played, he knows a lot of people in the org., and he still lives in 'Zona.

    Of course, Warner said he has nothing but respect for the Rams -- and is thankful for everything they gave him ... like his first shot in the NFL after he spent time in the Arena league and NFL Europe.

    FYI -- the Rams also gave Warner his first BIG pro contract in 2000 ($46.5 mil for 7 years).

    But the Rams also dumped him in 2004 ... and it was the Cards who took a chance on the guy after Kurt's less than stellar season with the Giants.

    So, in the end ... Kurt says he's a bird man now -- and that's the way it's gonna be.
    -04-03-2014, 10:02 AM
  • Nick
    [CBS]: Cardinals fumble away chance to beat Rams
    by Nick
    Cardinals fumble away chance to beat Rams
    Sep. 24, 2006
    CBS wire reports

    GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Marc Bulger and Kurt Warner took turns trying to fumble the game away Sunday. Warner succeeded.

    The Arizona quarterback, who threw three interceptions, fumbled a snap at the Rams 18 with 1:46 to play and Will Witherspoon recovered to allow St. Louis to hold on and beat the Cardinals 16-14.

    Arizona's Antonio Smith recovered Bulger's fumble at the St. Louis 30 with 1:58 to play and Edgerrin James carried three times to the 18. Bulger said he was thinking of how he was going to face his teammates when Warner dropped Alex Stepanovich's snap and Witherspoon jumped on the ball for St. Louis (2-1).

    "I feel like I hit the lottery," Bulger said.

    The Cardinals were stunned.

    "I couldn't believe it," defensive tackle Darnell Dockett said. "I was tapping myself in the head like `Wake up! That's not reality.' That's definitely something you see on a video game -- but it happened."

    The game ended strangely with Arizona taking a fair catch on a punt as time ran out. Under an obscure rule, that would have given the Cardinals a free kick, and Neil Rackers was ready to take a shot at a 77-yard field goal.

    But Arizona was offsides on the punt. After considerable confusion, the Rams decided to take the penalty and Bulger took a knee to end it.

    It was a fitting conclusion for a game that featured six turnovers, four of them by Warner.

    "Any one of those four plays, if I don't make them, we probably win this football game," Warner said.

    "It was a good snap," he said of his last play. "I just fumbled it."

    One of his interceptions came with Arizona at the Rams 13, another at the St. Louis 1.

    Afterward, Cardinals coach Dennis Green was furious.

    "I don't think I've been so angry since I've been here, and I've had some (bad) days since I've been here, believe me," he said. "But none of them compares to this."

    Bulger was 21-of-31 for 309 yards and one touchdown with no interceptions, and Warner was 19-of-28 for 256 yards and one score.

    Torry Holt caught eight passes for 120 yards, including a 9-yarder for St. Louis' lone touchdown.

    Coach Scott Linehan said the team used a few plays from the old "Greatest Show on Turf" offense that Mike Martz used to run.

    "I think coach did a good job of going back to some things we hooked up on in the past," Holt said. "He (Bulger) can close his eyes and know that I'm there."

    Anquan Boldin had 10 receptions for 129 yards for Arizona.

    Warner left the field to more than a few catcalls from fans calling for rookie Matt Leinart...
    -09-24-2006, 09:14 PM
  • RamWraith
    Can Rams win for Vermeil, Haslett against first-place Warner, Bidwill?
    by RamWraith
    By Bernie Miklasz

    The components couldn't be more enticing for Sunday's Cardinals-Rams conflict at The Edward Jones Dome. It's probably the biggest and most anticipated football game played at The Ed since the final day of the 2004 regular season, when the Rams went into the day in need of a victory over the Jets to wriggle into the NFL playoffs.

    Today, we'll have the latest matchup pitting the old St. Louis NFL franchise vs. the new one. Cardinals owner Bill Bidwill has enjoyed taking an annual victory walk to the Arizona bench near the end of the game. Bidwill's boys have won three in a row in St. Louis, and that makes his bow tie spin.

    We'll have the first-place Cardinals (4-3) trying to strengthen their hold on the NFC West by knocking the Rams (2-5) deeper into the crater caused by an 0-4 start. If the banged-up Rams can fight their way to a win, they'll be a game out of first with half the schedule remaining. If the Rams lose, the Jim Haslett bandwagon will slow, and the talk-show and Internet hostilities will likely resume.

    We'll have a homecoming on multiple fronts.

    The return of Kurt Warner is always an event.

    The generous Bidwill will host around 40 former St. Louis Cardinals in his luxury suite.

    Dick Vermeil, who coached the 1999 Rams to Super Bowl glory, will be honored at halftime, his name placed in the Ring of Honor. Some of DV's former Rams are showing up to be a part of the tribute. Welcome back to Grant Wistrom, Aeneas Williams, Jeff Wilkins and the others. The day won't be complete unless D'Marco Farr hugs Vermeil and gets the sentimental old coach to cry. That shouldn't be too difficult.

    "What makes him so different is just his love for the players," Warner said of Vermeil. "It's unique that it goes beyond the football field. It goes so much deeper than that. The things that his players care about, he cares about. He makes it a point to know and to stay in touch with players that he's had around him for years and years.

    "I've just never been around a coach that goes to that much effort and has that much care for the guys that play for him. And it just endears him to every player that I've ever known who has played for him. You're just glad you've had the opportunity to be with him for however long it was."

    Indeed. As the years go by, our town's appreciation and love for Vermeil only grows stronger. Vermeil's visit carries symbolic importance; his presence will remind the Rams organization of what a team can do when all employees pull together in harmony. It is a message that Haslett has reinforced since taking over for the divisive Scott Linehan.

    No coach is quite like Vermeil, but Haslett and football VP Billy Devaney have bonded in a sincere attempt to recreate a unified and successful Rams'...
    -11-02-2008, 04:55 AM