Tis the week before Christmas and all thro’ the house not a creature is stirring, not even a mouse...
In the midst of one of the most miserable seasons in the history of the Arizona Cardinals, team owner and president, Michael Bidwill, has not uttered a peep...
“In restless dreams he walks alone...narrow streets of cobblestone...’neath the halo of a street lamp, he turns his collar to the cold and damp...when his eyes are stabbed by the flash of a neon light, that split the night...and touched the sound of silence...”
Like a nervously pacing Hamlet or an agitated Achilles brooding in his tent, Michael Bidwill ponders his next move...and every Birdganger anxiously awaits the moment when the silence is broken.
It can be said of Bidwill that he has known how to keep Christmas well—-for he is jolly fellow at heart—-and let it be known—-he is no Scrooge.
In fact, if Michael Bidwill manifests a tragic flaw it is his generosity—-so often, whenever a coach or a player of his accomplishes notable success—-he will rip up a current contract well before its expiration date and lavish him with a new contract written in gold ink.
Whenever Bidwill signs a new player—-there is genuine excitement in his eyes——he commemorates the moment by giving the player his own Cardinals’ pen and a small plaque with the player’s name on it with the date of the signing. And when the contract is signed, Bidwill always says during the handshake, “Let’s hope we sign many more of these.”
But these days, Bidwill must be feeling very ambivalent—-one the one hand he is proud of showing his loyalty to those who have elevated the Cardinals’ performances on the field—-but on the other hand, he must be asking himself why his generosity is so rarely reciprocated.
There is now a long history of the Cardinals’ reward contracts gone sour going back to Jake Plummer, Anquan Boldin, Ken Whisenhunt, Daryl Washington, Carson Palmer, Bruce Arians, Tyrann Mathieu and Steve Keim.
Bidwill would have liked to have signed his past 1st round draft picks to 2nd multi-year contracts—-but, alas, the only ones he has re-signed are Larry Fitzgerald and Patrick Peterson. Let’s go back to the year 2000 to see: 2000—RB Thomas Jones; 2001—-T Leonard Davis; 2002—-DT Wendell Bryant; 2003—-WR Bryant Johnson, DE Calvin Pace; 2004—-WR Larry Fitzgerald; 2005—-S Antrel Rolle; 2006—-QB Matt Leinart; 2007—-T Levi Brown; 2008—-CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie; 2009—-RB Beanie Wells; 2010—-DT Dan Williams; 2011—-CB Patrick Peterson; 2012—-WR Michael Floyd; 2013—-G Jonathan Cooper; 2014—-S Deone Buchannon; 2015—-T D.J. Humhpries; 2016—-DT Robert Nkemdiche; 2017—-LB Haason Reddick; 2018—-QB Josh Rosen.
Amazingly, despite so many 1st round disappointments, under Michael Bidwill’s watch, the Cardinals, over the past 10 years have played in 2 NFC Championship games and its first ever Super Bowl.
The Cardinals caught fire in 2008 with HC Ken Whisenhunt and QB Kurt Warner and caught fire again in 2015 with HC Bruce Arians and QB Carson Palmer.
But, like blazing comets that streak by in the night, the brilliance was momentary and the vision was fleeting.
As Bidwill is pacing his office these days, he must be wondering why his Cardinals cannot seem to sustain success.
Part of it is—-when you go back and look at the list of the Cardinals’ 1st round draft picks since 2000—-you will only find 2 QBs on that list (Leinart in 2006 and Rosen in 2018)—-in fact the Cardinals have selected more WRs (3), OL (4), RBs (3), DL (4) in that span.
Compounding the matter, as much as the Cardinals have tried to beef up and solidify their offensive line—-year after year, the offensive lines in Arizona have far too often crumbled like stale gingerbread houses.
Despite the ups and downs, Michael Bidwill remains a highly respected and appreciated figure amongst Cardinals fans. We laud him for bringing the Cardinals into the 21st century vis-a-vis the long-promised building of a state of the art stadium and then the addition of first-rate training facilities. We laud him and his dad for hoisting the Halas Trophy and taking the Cardinals to the Super Bowl. We laud him for going out of his way to help the coaches, players and people in the community. Perhaps we laud him most of all for making Larry Fitzgerald a Cardinal for life.
And, yes, we laud him for making bold moves when he feels he has to—-
Let’s face it, back in 2013 it was very difficult for Bidwill to fire the one coach who ever got the Cardinals to the Super Bowl and even moreso, to fire GM Rod Graves, his long-time confidante, mentor and friend.
But Bidwill made the move in order to bring in fresh faces (Steve Keim and Bruce Arians) and an exciting new future.
For three years—-it was an exciting ride.
You see, as fellow ROTB member and contributor Leeskicitizen reminded me during a phone conversation yesterday, few people on the planet love to go to work each day the way Michael Bidwill does. He loves his job and the Arizona Cardinals are practically his ever waking thought.
But, now as was the case in 2013, Bidwill needs to make another bold move. Not only has the team been falling short of his and the fans’ expectations for the past three years, the Cardinals have been suffering through a number of national and local public relations hits.
The ephemeral luster of the Cardinals popular brand in 2015 has now been covered in layers of mud. Fans are booing and leaving early—-some not even showing up—-many are selling their tickets which is turning the new State Farm Stadium into a fan fest for the opposing teams.
The backlash from losing key players such as Calais Campbell, Tony Jefferson, D.J. Swearinger and Tyrann Mathieu (3 of whom are captains on their new teams) has been exacerbated by a growing national perception that the Cardinals do not treat their players with due respect. For right or for wrong—-that is the case.
Players now seem happy and even elated to leave Arizona—-and this year CB Patrick Peterson informed the NFL world that he is “desperate” to leave.
if ever there was need for Michael Bidwill to clean the slate and create a brand new image and level of excitement for the Cardinals and their fans—-this is the prime time for Bidwill to break his silence and do it.
In our conversation yesterday, Lee and I agreed—-Arizona should be a plum franchise in the NFL. The owner is highly committed and generous. The locale is attractive. The stadium and its rabid fans are outstanding. The Cardinals play in one of the most competitive divisions. Coaches, free agents and draft picks should want to flock to Arizona, not fly away from it.
If in a month's time Michael Bidwill is feeling more excited than ever on his morning ride to work—-we fans are likely to feel the same. This is the time for Bidwill to pivot, and he is just hitting his prime.