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I wanted to try a new exercise where the fans could assemble the all-time team for the Arizona Cardinals in the days leading up to a much anticipated training camp.
Today’s focus: Off-ball Linebackers (finding 3, given that OLB/Edge is a flexible one and I put them w/ the pass-rushers)
Here’s how it works...for those who haven’t been following.
You take ONE game on a neutral field, pick the best player and go position by position, with Cards fans voting to assemble the greatest game-day roster of Arizona Cardinals in franchise history, period.
Again: Here’s a few of the rules and guidelines
-All players must have played for the Arizona Cardinals and players must be remembered as Cardinals foremost, or for a majority of their career (aka saying “Boomer Esiason is the greatest Cardinal quarterback ever” because he was a great QB doesn’t count)
-No impossible offensive alignments (ex. putting four tight ends on the field or finding 6 wide receivers)
-Talent wins over longevity (the goal is to find the team you’d take to win in a game) but that doesn’t mean players who played for the Cardinals forever shouldn’t be counted...
-St. Louis Cardinals do count, and if there’s an argument to be made for a Chicago Cardinal they can be included, too.
For today’s list on linebackers we’ll assume one of the edge players will flex so we need to find three linebackers to play in the middle of the best Cardinals defense to set foot on a field.
Aeneas Williams (1991-2000)
What can you say that hasn’t been said already about Aeneas? Sure, he spent time as a Ram but pre-Adrian Wilson/Larry Fitzgerald he was probably the most recognizable Cardinal in the National Football League.
In 160 games with the Cardinals, Williams totaled 55 interceptions, 8 forced fumbles and 569 tackles with 6 Pro Bowls and 2 All Pro’s.
A Hall of Fame member, he’s probably one of the greatest players to ever wear Cardinal Red.
“Night Train” Dick Lane (1954-1959)
It’s not how long you spend as a Cardinal...it’s what you do with that time. And “Night Train” Lane was one of the best during his stint with the Chicago Cardinals. 4 Pro Bowls, 7 Total All-Pro awards, a season with 10 interceptions in it (his rookie season he had 14, a record which stands today) and over 600 yards in INT yardage returned during his time with Chicago he’s a Hall of Fame member AND a member of the ring of honor.
An incredible athlete who even during an era where the ball wasn’t passed as much, he was probably the first true “lockdown” corner in the history of the league.
Patrick Peterson (2011-Current)
Say what you will about P2 in recent years...stats-wise he’s potentially on his way towards the hall of fame (for sure the Cardinals ring of honor) and outside of his suspension and trade request has been maybe the most consistent and reliable player in the NFL at his position since he was drafted. (And some people thought he’d be stuck at safety, lol).
Peterson’s started 128 games for the Cards, totalling 23 interceptions for 244 yards, 387 tackles, 12 fumble recoveries, 3 sacks and he’s still got a lot of tread left on the tires. With his deal up in 2020 your guess is as good as mine as to his long-term future but no matter what his legacy in the desert is likely more set than not and he belongs here.
Roger Wehrli (1969-1982)
Man, what a collection of amazing Cardinals players did the 1970’s have. Wehrli was another one of those, with 7 pro bowls over a 14 year career and 40 interceptions, 22 fumbles recovered and 2 defensive touchdowns.
He’s another member of the Arizona Cardinals ring of honor and absolutely gets overlooked as far as the other names on this list in the modern era. Fortunately, he doesn’t get overlooked in the annals of NFL history.
Pat Tillman (1998-2001)
What more can be said? There’s a lot of incredible names on this list of Arizona Cardinals’ talent to make up their all-time team but only ONE has a statue outside of the building.
And that’s Pat Tillman, the embodiment of the Arizona sports athlete and an icon. He’s most known for giving up the strife of an NFL career to fight and die for his country, but he was a pretty good football player too. In 3 seasons and 60 games with the Cards he went from a 7th round pick to a starter, putting up 340 tackles, 3 forced fumbles & recoveries, along with 3 interceptions. And he passed away in 2004 as a result of friendly fire, thousands of miles away from the football field but rather on the battlefield.
The man embodies everything that you’d want in an Arizona Cardinal and while maybe he doesn’t have the same spectrum of “talent” as the other safeties here, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better one.
Larry Wilson (1960-1972)
Wilson #1 coming your way...a favorite player for many, Wilson played in 163 games for the Cardinals and had a legendary career. Let’s list his accomplishments directly from his wikipedia page:
- 8× Pro Bowl (1962, 1963, 1965–1970)
- 5× First-team All-Pro (1963, 1966–1970)
- Second-team All-Pro (1965)
- NFL Defensive Player of the Year (1966)
- NFL interceptions leader (1966)
- NFL 1960s All-Decade Team
- NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team
- Arizona Cardinals No. 8 retired
- Arizona Cardinals Ring of Honor
...Yeah I think that’s pretty good. He also went on to become a scouting director and coach for the Cardinals and essentially lived a life of football.
Adrian Wilson (2001-2012)
Like Wilson #1, Wilson #2 has also become a feared warrior on the gridiron, and was the face of the franchise essentially as they came out of the long & difficult night of the early 2000’s to their franchise turnaround.
One of only 3 other members of the illustrious 25/25 club (25.5 sacks, 27 interceptions) he had 508 interception yards returned, 893 tackles, 16 forced fumbles (a hard hitter indeed) and a crazy 99 passes defensed. There might never be another Cardinals safety like him (though we can only hope).
Kwamie Lassiter (1995-2002)
The late Kwamie Lassiter passed away earlier this year at 49 years of age after suffering a heart attack while working out.
Kwamie along with Aeneas Williams almost single-handedly lifted the Cardinals defense to the playoffs in the 1998 season and finished as a Pro Bowl alternate in 2002. His career in the desert came to an end but not until he accumulated 24 interceptions, 4 forced fumbles and 521 tackles in the desert.
The man was one of the best safeties on a team with a LOT of great secondary players, and that says a lot.
Well, Birdgang? What’s the verdict?
Who makes your all-time Arizona Cardinals team?
Vote now below!
Who are the greatest Cardinal cornerbacks of all time?
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Night Train Dick Lane
Who are the greatest Cardinal safeties of all time?
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Anyone missed? Sound off in the comments!