The ALMOST All-Time Arizona Cardinals Offense

Remember: This is a team of legends who are not, and maybe never will be, members of the Pro Football Hall Of Fame

Quarterback : Jim Hart

Hart was signed as an undrafted free agent rookie by the Saint Louis Cardinals before the 1966 season. He got into one game that season, completing four of the eleven passes he threw.

The Cardinals named him a starter the next year, and he threw for 3,008 yards and an NFL leading 30 interceptions.He spent four of the next five years occasionally sharing quarterback duties with other players until he was again named the only starter in 1973. His highlight up until that point was throwing a 98 pass to Ahmad Rashad, which is the longest non-scoring play in league history.

In 1974, he led the league with 388 passing attempts. Only eight balls were intercepted, which gave him a league leading 2.1 interception percentage. He was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Year by the UPI.

He was named to the Pro Bowl, an honor he would again attain four straight seasons until 1977.

He was having his greatest successes under head coach Don Coryell, and Hart led the team to a 38-18 record the four years they were paired together. Coryell was fired after 1977, and the team began to lose.

The Cardinals used their first round pick in 1977 on quarterback Steve Pisarkiewicz. Owner Bill Bidwell ordered head coach Bud Wilkerson to start Pisarkiewicz instead of Hart in 1979, which led to tension in the locker room and Wilkerson's early dismissal before the season ended.

Pisarkiewicz was out of the NFL after the 1980 season, and the Cardinals then drafted quarterback Neil Lomax in 1981. Hart became a reserve in 1982, then left the team after the next year. He joined the Washington Redskins in 1984, then retired at the end of the season.

Hart's record as a starter for the Cardinals is 87-88-5. It is easily the best total by any Cardinals quarterback ever. No other quarterback in team history has thrown more passes for more yards and more touchdowns than him either. His four Pro Bowls is also the most be any quarterback in franchise history.

Neil Lomax, Jim Hardy, Charley Johnson, Jake Plummer, and Paul Christman deserve mention.

Fullback : Larry Centers

Centers was drafted in the fifth round of the 1990 draft by the Phoenix Cardinals. He was used strictly as a part time kick returner as a rookie, returning 16 kickoffs. He matched that total again the next year, and also returned the only five punts of his career.

The Cardinals began using him as a third down back in 1992, and he had 50 receptions and the first two touchdowns of his career. He continued increasing his receiving totals each year, culminating with 101 receptions in 1995. It is a NFL record for receptions by a running back, and he was named to his first Pro Bowl.

His 1996 season was probably his best. He had 99 receptions, and set career best marks of 425 rushing yards on 116 attempts while scoring nine times. After catching 123 balls over the next two years, he signed with the Washington Redskins as a free agent for the 1999 season.

Washington used him primarily as a receiver in his two years with them, and he had 150 catches over that time. He then joined the Buffalo Bills in 2001 and had 123 receptions in the two seasons he played for them. He also made his last Pro Bowl in 2001.

Centers then joined the New England Patriots in 2003, and was used sparingly. He caught 19 balls and scored his last touchdown, as the Patriots went on to win Super Bowl XXXVIII. He then retired.

His 827 career receptions are the most by any running back in NFL history, and the second most ever by any non-wide receiver. His 535 receptions with the Cardinals is the second most in franchise history.

Though Larry Centers is known as the greatest receiving fullback in NFL history, he was also an excellent blocker who helped paved the way for 1,000 yard backs like Stephen Davis, Ronald Moore, Travis Henry, and Garrison Hearst.

Jim Otis, Marshall Goldberg, Wayne Morris, Earl Ferrell, Pat Harder, Ron Wolfley, and Johnny Olszewski all deserve mention. Wolfley made four Pro Bowls because of his special teams play, and is the only player ever to have played for both the Cardinals and Rams in Saint Louis.

Halfback : O.J. Anderson

Anderson was drafted drafted in the first round of the 1979 draft by the Saint Louis Cardinals. He exploded onto the NFL scene immediately in his rookie year, garnering the NFL Rookie of the Year Award, First Team All-NFL, and Pro Bowl honors. He set career high marks of 331 carries for 1,605 yards at a 4.8 yards per carry average, and scored 10 touchdowns. He also caught 41 passes.

He continued his torrid pace the next two seasons, gaining 2,728 yards, scoring 18 times, and catching 87 passes. He was to his last Pro Bowl in 1980. His consecutive 1,000 yard seasons was stopped at three in 1982 because of the players strike, but he was still able to gain 587 in eight games.

He missed a game in each of the next two years, but ran for over 1,000 yards in each season. He also caught 124 balls, including a career high 70 in 1984, and scored 14 total times.

He got injured in the 1985 season, and was only able to play nine games. Stump Mitchell emerged as the Cardinals primary running back, so Anderson was cut after the fourth game of the 1986 season. He was picked up a few weeks later by the New York Giants, and appeared in eight games.

He was used as a short yardage back that year, and scored a touchdown in the Giants Super Bowl XXI victory. He then played in just four games the next season., and scored eight touchdowns on limited carries in the 1988 season.

He then earned the starting job for the Giants in 1989, and gained 1,023 yards and scored a career high 14 touchdowns. He was named NFL Comeback Player of the Year. He scored 11 times the next year, as the Giants went on to win Super Bowl XXV.

He ran for 102 yards on 21 carries, including a touchdown, in the Giants 20-19 victory over the Buffalo Bills and was named Super Bowl MVP.

He then rarely played over the next two seasons and retired at the conclusion of the 1992 season. Once known as a fumbler, with 53 over the seven years he played with the Cardinals, he fumbled just three times in his eight years with the Giants.

He owns the Cardinals franchise record of 1,858 carries, 7,999 rushing yards, and 46 rushing touchdowns. He carried the ball a whopping 1,521 times over five seasons.

His 1,605 yards in 1979 are the most yards rushing in a season by any Cardinals running back, and he owns five of the top six greatest rushing yard season totals in franchise history.

The Cardinals have had a plethora of great running backs in their history, yet none put up numbers greater than Ottis Anderson.

Terry Metcalf, Stump Mitchell, John David Crow, Johnny Roland, MacArthur Lane, Jimmy Lawrence, Johnny Johnson, and Elmer Angsman deserve mention.

Wide Receiver : Sonny Randle

Randle was drafted in the 19th round of the 1958 draft by the Chicago Cardinals, but did not join the team until 1959. He played just eight games as a rookie, and caught 15 passes while scoring once.

He was put into the starting line up the next year, the Cardinals first in Saint Louis, and quickly became a top receiver in the league. He led the NFL with a career high 15 touchdown catches on 62 receptions. He was named First Team All-Pro and to the Pro Bowl.

Returning to the Pro Bowl in 1961 after scoring nine times on 44 catches, he set career best marks of 63 receptions for 1,158 yards, to go with seven touchdowns, in his Pro Bowl season of 1962. He took one pass a career long 86 yards for a touchdown.

He somehow did not make the Pro Bowl the next year, despite catching 51 passes for 1,014 yards, a 19.9 yards per reception average, and 12 touchdowns. He was on his way to having a stellar 1964 campaign, averaging a career best 20.7 yards on 25 receptions, when he went down for year from injury in the seventh game.

Randle rebounded nicely the next year, and made his final Pro Bowl squad after catching 51 passes for 845 yards and nine touchdowns. He then scored twice on 17 receptions the next year, and ended up with the San Francisco 49ers for the 1967 season.

He caught 33 balls that year, scoring four times. After scoring a touchdown on three receptions over three games, he was released. The Dallas Cowboys picked him up, and he caught one pass in the six games he played.

He then was set to retire, but Vince Lombardi of the Washington Redskins asked him to join the team in 1969. After a brief appearance in training camp, he ultimately retired.

No player in the NFL caught more touchdown passes in the 1960's than his 65 scores. He ranks 12th in league history in touchdowns per games played, and he still ranks 40th in career touchdown receptions.

He caught 16 passes for 256 yards in a single game during the 1962 season, which is a Cardinals record. His 15 touchdown season is also the best in team history, and ranks seventeenth in NFL history.

His 1,158 receiving yards in 1962 was a team record that is still ranked 12 best. He still ranks ninth best in career receiving yards, and eleventh in receptions.

Though the Cardinals didn't always have steady quarterback play, as well as going through several head coaches, in Randle's career with the Cardinals, he teamed up with fellow wide receiver Bobby Joe Conrad and Hall Of Fame tight end Jackie Smith to make for one of the best trios in the 1960's.

Hall Of Fame quarterback Sonny Jurgensen once said that Randle would be in the Pro Football Hall Of Fame today if he had played in a bigger city like New York or Philadelphia.

Though the Cardinals have a long line of great wide receivers to have worn their uniform, including two more currently playing now, there may be none better in team history than Sonny Randle.

Wide Receiver : Roy Green

Green was drafted in the fourth round of the 1979 draft by the Saint Louis Cardinals. He was initially drafted to be a defensive back and kick returner, the positions he played in college.

He returned 41 kickoffs for 1,005 yards that year, and scored on a league leading 106 yard return. He also caught a 15 yard pass from punter Steve Little. He returned a career high 16 punts the next season, and returned one 57 yards for a score. He also returned 32 kickoffs, something he would do only 16 more times in his career.

The Cardinals started him at free safety for six games that year, and he picked off a pass. Then head coach Jim Hanifan decided that Green would play on both sides of the ball in the 1981 season, making him one of the last two-way players the NFL has seen.

He had his last three interceptions that year on defense, then caught 33 passes at wide receiver. He scored five times, averaged a career best 21.5 yards per reception, and ran the ball three times for 60 yards. He was became a full time wide receiver in 1982, and caught 32 balls in the strike shortened season.

The next two seasons was his best years. He was named First Team All-NFL and made the Pro Bowl each season, where he caught 78 passes both times. He led the NFL with 14 touchdown catches in 1983, and led the league with 1,555 receiving yards and 97.2 receiving yards per game the next year. He also scored 12 times in 1984.

Green began to deal with nagging injuries that would plague him the next three seasons. He missed 12 games over that time, yet still managed 135 receptions and 15 touchdowns. The Cardinals left Saint Louis after the 1987 season, and moved to Phoenix, Arizona.

He rebounded that year and caught 67 passes for 1,097 yards and seven touchdowns. He had seven more touchdowns on 44 receptions in 1989, even though he missed four games because of injuries.

The 1990 season was his last to play a full season, and he had 53 receptions. He was then traded to the Cleveland Browns before 1991, but he was cut in training camp. The Philadelphia Eagles signed him as a reserve, and he had 37 balls over two years before retiring.

His 8,496 receiving yards and 66 touchdown receptions as a Cardinal is still a team record, and his 522 receptions with them still ranks fourth best. His 414 points are the most ever by a non-kicker in team history. His 106 yard kickoff return tied an NFL record at the time, and is still the second longest in league history.

This position was the hardest to sift through. The Cardinals have had so many great receivers, that picking anyone could be the right choice. I really considered Mel Gray in the spot, and well as Bobby Joe Conrad. I chose Roy Green because of his being the Cardinals most reliable weapon when they passed, as well as his ability to play defense.

Mel Gray, Bobby Joe Conrad, J.T. Smith, Pat Tilley, Rob Moore, Ricky Proehl, Frank Sanders, Don Stonesifer, Bill Smith, Ed Rucinski, Billy Dewell, Gaynell Tinsley, Ernie Jones, Fran Polsfoot, Bob Shaw, John Gilliam, David Boston, and Mal Kutner all deserve mention.

Tight End : J.V. Cain

Cain was the Saint Louis Cardinals first round draft pick in 1974, and was the seventh player chosen overall. He was drafted to eventually replace aging Hall Of Fame tight end Jackie Smith, and spent his first two seasons learning from the legendary player.

He still managed to catch 25 balls for two scores over that time, as he was used primarily as a blocker. Smith then became a reserve in 1976, so that Cain could take over and show his abilities.

J.V. responded by averaging 15.4 yards on 26 receptions for 400 yards. All are career best marks, as was his five touchdowns that year. He caught 25 passes the next year and scored twice, despite missing a game because of injury.

He appeared on his ways to great things when he suddenly died from a heart attack on his birthday during training camp. The team then retired his number 88.

The Cardinals have not had many excellent tight ends besides Smith and Guy Chamberlain. Cain appeared on his way to being special when he passed. He still ranks as one of the best ever in franchise history to this day.

Gern Nagler and Pop Ivy also deserve mention.

Tackle : Ernie McMillan

McMillan was drafted in the 13th round of the 1961 by the Saint Louis Cardinals. He was a reserve in his rookie year, appearing in six games. He would be named a starter the next season, and would remain so the rest of his career.

He started 161 straight games at right tackle without missing a contest. He was the constant force on a Cardinals offensive line that was mostly always great and had several different players go to the Pro Bowl over that time.

Making the Pro Bowl himself four times, he ended up playing just seven games in 1973 because of injury. The Cardinals then put future Hall Of Famer Dan Dierdorf in at right tackle and moved McMillan to left tackle in 1974, He started alll 11 games he played before being injured.

He then signed with the Green Bay Packers in 1975, and started in all 12 games he played before retiring at the conclusion of the season.

His four Pro Bowls are the second most by any tackle in Cardinals history, and just two behind Dierdorf. It is also the third most by any blocker in franchise history.

His son is Erik McMillan, the two time Powl Bowler who was the 1988 Defensive Rookie of the Year, and his nephew is former lineman and Dallas Cowboys first round draft pick Howie Richards.

Ernie McMillan is one of the best blockers in Cardinals history, and perhaps one of the most underrated.

Tackle : Luis Sharpe

Sharpe was the Saint Louis Cardinals first round draft pick in 1982, and he was named a starter at left tackle immediately.

He would not miss a game for almost eight years, and started in every game that he did appear in. He missed just seven games in his 13 year career, and named to the Pro Bowl three times from 1987 to 1989.

He holds the distinction of having played for the Saint Louis, Phoenix, and Arizona versions of the Cardinals. His three Pro Bowls are the most be any left tackle in team history.

Though he has had personal troubles since he retired, there may have been no better left tackle on the field in Cardinals history than Luis Sharpe.

Bob Reynolds, Stan Mauldin, who died after the first game of the 1948 season, Bill Fischer, Lomas Brown, Tony Blazine, Ken Panfil, and Walt Ellis all deserve a mention.

Guard : Ken Gray

Gray was drafted in the sixth round of the 1958 draft by the Green Bay Packers, becoming just the second player, and first in 29 years, to make the NFL out of Howard Payne University.

He didn't make the Packers team, and was getting ready to quit football when the Chicago Cardinals asked him to try out. He made their team, and was put in as a defensive end. He soon became a starter, and played in ten games.

He was switched over to right guard on the offense the next year, and began to excel. He was named to his first Pro Bowl in the 1961 season, then again in 1963.

He was named First Team All-Pro in 1964, as well as making his third Pro Bowl. He would make the Pro Bowl three straight years from 1966 to 1968, then be named First Team All-Pro in 1969.

Though he was getting set to retire, he was coaxed by the Houston Oilers to play for them in the 1970 season. He then retired.

No other guard in Cardinals history has played in more Pro Bowls than Gray, and it matches Hall Of Famer Dan Dierdorf as the most by any offensive lineman in team history. It is also tied as the third most Pro Bowls by any player in team history.

Not only is Ken Gray the greatest guard in Cardinals history, but he may be their greatest blocker ever. His is a career worthy of induction into Canton.

Guard : Conrad Dobler

Dobler was drafted in the fifth round of the 1972 draft by the Saint Louis Cardinals. He earned the starting job after the second game at left guard, but changed to right guard, and his jersey number as well, in his second season.

He quickly garnered a reputation as one of the meanest and nastiest players in the league. He made the Pro Bowl for three straight years from 1975 to 1977, and was given the tag "The Dirtiest Player In The NFL" by the magazine Sports Illustrated.

He was traded to the New Orleans Saints just before the 1978 season, but played just three games because of injury. After rebounding the next year, he joined the Buffalo Bills in 1980. After missing two games in 1981 because of injury, he retired.

His life after the NFL has been difficult. He is 90% disabled from all the injuries he accrued as a player, and his wife is now a quadriplegic after an accident. The NFLPA disregards many past players like him, so he still lives today needing more surgeries to improve his quality of life.

But his career on the field will not be forgotten. He was a character who was beloved by his teammates and reviled by his opponents. He is also one of the finest guards to ever wear the Cardinals uniform.

Bob Young, Irv Goode, Joe Kuharich, Joe Bostic, and Buster Ramsey all deserve mention

Center : Tom Banks

Banks was drafted in the eighth round of the 1970 draft by the Saint Louis Cardinals. He ended up starting nine games that year. Showing excellent versatility, he started every game the next year at center or guard.

He was moved to guard in 1973 the whole season, which also happened to be the first for head coach Don Coryell. He was hurt in the first game of the next year, which ended his season.

The Cardinals moved him back to center in 1975, and he quickly established himself as one of the best in the league by being named to the Pro Bowl for four seasons straight. The 1976 season saw him named First Team All-Pro as well.

He got hurt in the sixth game of the 1980 season, then decided to retire. He decided to come out of retirement at 35 years old in 1983 to play with the Birmingham Stallions of the United States Football League. He then retired for good at the end of the 1984 season.

His four Pro Bowls are the most by any center in Cardinals history, and it is tied as the third most by any offensive lineman in team history.

Bob DeMarco, Jack Simmons, Tim Moynihan, Frank McNally, Phil Dougherty, Ki Aldrich, Ray Apolskis, and Ralph Claypool all deserve mention.






Kicker : Jim Bakken

Bakken was drafted in the seventh round of the 1962 draft by the Los Angeles Rams, but the Rams decided to let Danny Villanueva handle both the punting and kicking duties.

The Cardinals picked him up for eight games that year, having him kickoff for veteran placekicker Gerry Perry. Perry retired after that season, thus giving the job to Bakken.

He led the NFL in field goal attempts and conversions in 1964, scoring 115 points, and made his first Pro Bowl in 1965 by leading the NFL in field goal percentage that year. He even punted the ball 26 times at a career best 42.2 yards per attempt average, and also ran the ball the only time in his career for 28 yards.

Bakken punted the ball a career high 29 times the next season, yet would only have to punt ten more times the rest of his career. He also missed his first extra point attempt in 145 career attempts that season.

He returned to the Pro Bowl in 1967, scoring a career best 117 points, and led the NFL in field goal percentage and 27 field goals made. He made seven field goals in one game, which stood as an NFL record until 2007.

Bakken continued on being a steady and reliable force for the Cardinals. He had 100 points in 1973, making it the third and final time in his career that he would eclipse the century mark.

He would be named to the Pro Bowl and First Team All-Pro in both 1975 and 1976, as the Cardinals won 21 games over that time. He then retired after the 1978 season.

No kicker in Cardinals history has attempted or made more extra points and field goals than Bakken, nor has any played in more games or more seasons. None have been named First Team All-Pro or to the Pro Bowl more than him.

His 1,380 points almost doubles Neil Rackers, who ranks second in points scored in franchise history.

Jim Bakken is a member of both the NFL's 1960's and 1970's All-Decade Team, and he is easily the greatest kicker in Cardinals history.

Pat Harder, Eddie Anderson, and Bobby Joe Conrad deserve mention.








Kick Returner : Terry Metcalf

Metcalf was the Saint Louis Cardinals third round draft pick in 1973, and he instantly became a big part of their offense. He gained 133 yards on 16 carries in his first game ever, and ended up with 628 rushing yards and 37 receptions for the year. He was asked to return just four kickoffs that season.

He exploded on the NFL the next year by averaging a league leading and career best 31.2 yards on 20 kickoff returns. One return went for a career long 94 yards, which resulted in a touchdown. He also averaged a career high 13.1 yards on 26 punt returns, thus becoming the first player in NFL history to average over 30 yards per kick return and 10 yards per punt return in a season. It has only been done one other time, by Joshua Cribbs in 2007 for the Cleveland Browns.

Metcalf also ran for 718 yards and scored seven more times. One came off a career long 75 yard jaunt to the end zone, which led the league. His career best 50 receptions that year were the ninth most in the NFL, and he was named to his first Pro Bowl for his efforts.

The 1975 season was arguably his best. He had a career high 2,439 all-purpose yards, which was an NFL record at the time. It stood until 1985, when Lionel James of the San Diego Chargers passed it. It took James 16 games to get break the record that Metcalf set in the 14 game season of 1975, and no other player has surpassed either total since.

Metcalf had a career high 816 rushing yards and 13 total touchdowns. He also caught 43 balls, and took a punt 69 yards for the only punt return score of his career. He also had career best marks of 960 yards on 35 kickoff returns, a 27.4 average, while taking one 93 yards for a score. He also tossed a 51 yard touchdown pass, and was named to the Pro Bowl again.

His 1976 season was one bereft with injury, and he played in 12 games. He returned 17 punts and 16 kickoffs, while churning out 537 rushing yards, catching 33 passes, and scoring seven times.

The 1977 season was his last as a Cardinal and as a Pro Bowl player. He ran for 739 yards, caught 34 passes, returned 34 kickoffs and 14 punts, while six times. He also had career high totals of five passing attempts and three completions. One went for a touchdown, while another was intercepted. He wanted a pay raise, but Cardinals owner Bill Bidwell is well known for being stingy with salary increases. Metcalf then bolted up north to the Canadian Football League.

While playing for the Toronto Argonauts for three years, he gained 1,900 yards rushing and caught 137 passes total and was named a division All-Star once. He then returned to the NFL in 1981 to play for the Washington Redskins because head coach Joe Gibbs served as his backfields coach with the Saint Louis his entire Cardinals career.

He played just one year in Washington, and caught 48 balls for a career best 12.4 yards per catch. He also returned 14 kickoffs. It was the only season of his career where he failed to score a touchdown. He then retired.

Metcalf ranks fourth in Cardinals history in kickoff return yards, fifth in kickoff returns, third in punt return yards, fourth in punt returns, seventh in rushing yards, ninth in rushing attempts, and twentieth in receptions.

His three Pro Bowl games are the second most by any halfback in Cardinals history.

If he had one flaw, it was the habit of carrying the ball loosely. He led the NFL in fumbles twice and has 62 in the 81 games he played in his career.

There have been few players more exciting or have shown as much excellent versatility in Cardinals history than Terry Metcalf. His son Eric Metcalf carried on the family legacy by being an exciting, versatile running back, wide receiver, and record setting return specialist in the NFL from 1989 to 2002. They are perhaps the greatest father/ son tandem in NFL history.

Stump Mitchell, Marshall Goldberg, Roy Green, Les Goble, and MarTay Jenkins all deserve mention.

<em>This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Revenge of the Birds' (ROTB) editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of ROTB's editors.</em>

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