The Arizona Cardinals announced that owner Bill Bidwill has passed away.
The announcement from the team:
Our dad passed away today the same way he lived his life: peacefully, with grace, dignity and surrounded by family and loved ones,” said Cardinals President Michael Bidwill. “We are overwhelmed by the support our family has received, not only now but throughout the latest chapter of his life. We are especially grateful to the nurses, doctors and other caregivers whose endless kindness and compassion in recent years have made our dad’s life so meaningful. Above all else, we will remember him as a man devoted to the three central pillars of his life – his immense faith, his love for his family and his life-long passion for the Cardinals and the sport of football.”
Bidwill was born on July 31, 1931 in Chicago. His father Charles, a prominent Chicago sports figure and member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, purchased the Cardinals in 1932. Upon Charles’ death in 1947, Bill’s mother Violet became the nation’s first female professional sports owner and ran the team for 15 years until her passing.
Bill Bidwill’s association with the Cardinals spanned eight decades, starting as a ball boy for the team when he was a child. He was a two-sport athlete playing football and baseball at Georgetown Prep outside of Washington, DC and led the football team in scoring his senior year. In 1990 Bidwill received the Insignis Medal, Georgetown Prep’s highest honor, and in 2017 was selected to the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
After earning his undergraduate degree from Georgetown University, Bidwill proudly served in the United States Navy before taking on a full-time role with the team in 1960. That same year he married Nancy, his wife of more than 56 years until her passing in 2016, and the couple soon started a family that would consist of five children: daughter Nicole and sons Bill Jr., Michael, Patrick and Timothy.
While well-known for his understated nature and a preference for staying out of the spotlight, “Mr. B” was recognized often for his contributions and accomplishments as Cardinals owner. In 2017, he was enshrined in the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame which honors those who have made significant contributions to state’s athletics community.
Bidwill has also been lauded for being at the forefront of diversity in hiring practices. This was evidenced by the hiring of the first African American female executive in NFL history (Adele Harris), the league’s first African American contract negotiator (Bob Wallace) as well as its first African American head coach/GM tandem (Dennis Green and Rod Graves). In 2015 the team established the Bill Bidwill Coaching Fellowship, a program to increase diversity and provide more opportunities to gain coaching experience at the NFL level.
At the 2010 annual NFL Combine in Indianapolis, Bidwill was honored with the Paul “Tank” Younger Award from the Fritz Pollard Alliance, whose purpose is to promote diversity and equality of job opportunity in the NFL. “When you look back over the years, Mr. Bidwill has a long history of hiring minorities to administrative and authoritative positions,” said FPA chairman John Wooten. “He has really helped level the playing field and that is what this award is all about.”
Also in 2010, Bidwill was inducted into the Sports Faith Hall of Fame in Lake Forest, IL. “(He) was honored as a long-time contributor to the NFL and for his contributions to charity, which he has conducted in a very quiet, very generous manner,” said Patrick McCaskey, chairman of the group’s advisory board and grandson of legendary Bears coach George Halas.
At its December 2010 commencement exercises, Northern Arizona University awarded Bidwill an honorary doctor of humane letters degree for “his contributions to the university, his community and his profession.”
As Cardinals owner, Bidwill was also credited with bringing Super Bowl XXX to Arizona in January of 1996. The region hosted the game again in February of 2008 with Super Bowl XLVII and staged its third title game in February of 2015 when Super Bowl XLIX took place, bringing a record $720 million economic impact . Following the 2022 season, the stadium will host Super Bowl LVII.
Bidwill is survived by his five children, 10 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
From all of us at Revenge of the Birds, we wish the Bidwill family peace and comfort in their time of mourning.