There is little debate that he deserves it because of what he meant to the team and in how he helped the team two straight postseasons, two straight division titles and a Super Bowl berth that was only that close to being a Super Bowl win.
The two questions to ask now are these:
1. What player should be the next to be added?
2. Who, past or present, deserves to be added?
To address the first question, it would seem logical that the next guy would be Adrian Wilson. However, it would require him to actually retire from the NFL. He is currently a free agent and has no plans of retirement...yet.
He should be the next player to get in.
But the second question? Who should make it eventually?
There is one name that is conspicuously absent -- Larry Centers. It seems absurd that he would not be there yet.
He was the absolute heart and soul of the team in the 90s. He played nine seasons, was very productive -- two Pro Bowls and broken records for receptions by a non-receiver and he was part of that 1998 playoff team. During that period, he meant everything to that team.
I can't really suggest anyone before that time -- I was too young. But there is a group of players and a coach that should receive that honor.
To preface this, we need to recognize just how awful the history of the Cardinals has been up until a few years ago. That playoff run for two seasons meant so much to the franchise and to fans because it energized the fan base.
Someone in the Ring of Honor should have some key traits -- a long tenure with the team, be an important figure in the organization, to have made a huge impact on the history of the team or have been one of the best in the league while with the team.
Based on those guiding principles, these are the men that I feel absolutely must end up with their names in the stadium:
- Adrian Wilson
- Larry Fitzgerald
- Anquan Boldin
- Darnell Dockett
- Ken Whisenhunt
Boldin is interesting. He has continued to win since leaving the Cardinals. When he left, there was bad blood. But you have to look beyond that. He was the man. He was the heart of the team. He was incredibly good. It is no coincidence that when he left the team struggled. Yes that had to do with Warner too, but don't count out Q. In fact, such an honor would be a perfect way to mend those fences and, after his career is over, eventually finally show him what he meant to the franchise.
You might ask, "Why Whisenhunt?" It is clear. He is the winningest coach in team history. He took the team to the Super Bowl. He was the coach to turn around the franchise and change the culture. He was the coach to resurrect Kurt Warner's career. And while he ended up being fired and things did not end well, it does not change what he accomplished. So once he is done coaching, he is a man that needs to have his name immortalized as well -- especially if no one else takes the team to the same heights.
Is that a large number of men from one era? Absolutely. But the impact on the franchise and its history is that telling. If the team becomes perennially competitive and gets some playoff runs in the future, the criteria will likely change and become less inclusive.
But the fact remains that the 2008 and 20009 seasons and the players and coaches involved are so iconic to the history of the franchise, you can't leave those players out.
So I say...Wilson should be next. Centers, Fitz, Boldin, Wilson, Dockett and Whiz all should eventually be added.
Now you discuss it. Who should be the next name added? Who in years past or present deserves to be in there? Should there be more from the 1998 team? Are there any from the lean years that deserve that honor? Does Karlos Dansby deserve discussion? Jake Plummer? Debate away.
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