Background: GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 15: A view of the State Farms Stadium jumbotron during the NFL football game between the Cleveland Browns and the Arizona Cardinals on December 15, 2019 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.
Since the Cardinals’ move of its storied NFL franchise from St. Louis to Arizona in 1988, a familiar refrain over the years from a number of Arizona sports fans is that they wish the Bidwill family would sell the team so that the franchise would be in more capable hands—-and so that the franchise can adopt a more indigenous team name.
Therefore, it seemed like curious timing yesterday knowing that long-time Cardinals’ owner William V. Bidwill had passed away in early October last year and now his son and heir to the franchise, Michael Bidwill, had just been released from a Rhode Island hospital having contracted the novel coronavirus COVID-19, that Arizona Sports radio thought it would be a good time to see whether Cardinals fans still want a name change. Here was the Twitter poll and the results taken from 1,720 fans:
Bickley & Marotta on 98.7@Bickley_Marotta18h
If you could change the name of any of the local teams, which and what would it be?
Oddly, about the same time the poll was placed on Twitter, there was a posting that mapped the nation’s 50 states’ favorite pro sports teams—-and while the vast majority of the states’ favorite teams were splashed with the logos of NFL teams, that was not the case in Arizona, as it was painted with the Phoenix Coyotes’ logo.
When one looks at the Arizona pro team name choices of cardinals, diamondbacks, coyotes and suns, the cardinals are obviously the most apparent non sequitur.
However, red (male) and light brown (female) cardinals do habituate in Arizona—-as do the rarest of the species, golden yellow cardinals.
When Bill Bidwill made the bold decision to move the Cardinals to Arizona, he was gambling that Arizonans would embrace the storied history of the franchise.
The Cardinals started in Chicago as an amateur team in 1898 and then, with the Chicago Bears, was one of the two original franchises to enter the newly-conceived NFL in 1920.
As most older fans know—-the Cardinals moved to St. Louis in 1960—-and then moved to Arizona in 1988 with the promise that a new stadium would be built in the Phoenix area.
As it turned out, it took Arizona 18 years to come through on a new stadium, which during the course of that interim put the Cardinals at a distinct disadvantage in terms of accumulating the kind of team revenue that NFL teams with their own stadiums were garnering on an annual basis.
The only NFL Championship the Cardinals, as a franchise, have won on the field was in 1947. (They were awarded an NFL championship in 1925 when the Pottsville Maroons were suspended—-however, supporters of the Maroons felt they deserved the title).
As for the history of pro sports in Arizona, only the 2001 Diamondbacks have won a championship.
The one team that came the closest since then was the Arizona Cardinals in their 27-23 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLIII (2008 season).
Yet, if you just woke up yesterday and checked social media, you would see that Arizona fans 32 years after the Cardinals’ arrival in Phoenix would prefer to get rid of the Cardinals as a team name and that their most popular franchise these days is their NHL hockey team, the Phoenix Coyotes.
Mind you, when Bill Bidwill brought the team to Arizona, he took a host of long-time Cardinals fans like myself (and many of our ROTB members) with him——for someone like myself, it would be my biggest nightmare to see the Cardinals wiped out in favor of being called something like the Arizona Scorpions, Arizona Gila Monsters or Arizona Condors. Honestly, I would not root for them. Just as, if the Los Angeles Dodgers did away with the Dodgers name, I bet that old-time Dodger fans would be so upset they wouldn’t root for the new Los Angeles Orcas.
The questions I have for Cardinals fans—-
- How badly do you want to see a name change?
- How badly do you want to see Michael Bidwill sell the team?
- What name would you prefer instead?
- If the NFL promised Arizona a brand new team if the Cardinals were to move once again, would you rather start fresh with a brand new team?
- How upset would you be if Michael Bidwill moved the team to a city and state that would honor the Cardinals’ name and more avidly embrace the franchise’s history?
This morning I woke up wide awake at 3:40 am—-and I asked myself, if Michael Bidwill were to move the Cardinals, where would I love to see them go—-and the answer came to me in a flash—-if fans in Arizona can’t embrace the Cardinals as their franchise, I would be ecstatic to see the team move to Brooklyn to become the Brooklyn Cardinals.
My daughter, son-in-law and granddaughters live in Brooklyn and it just so happens that they have a family of cardinals nesting in the magnolia tree in front of their porch.
Brooklyn is fast becoming quite the pro sports borough in NY—-now thanks to the Barclay Center, they have the Brooklyn Nets and the New York Islanders—-the New York Mets are a quick ride away to Queens—-and hey—-so many New Yorkers would love it if they didn’t have to make the bumper to bumper ride over the George Washington Bridge to the Meadowlands to see an NFL game.
So then I began to think—-what if the NFL decided to add 4 new teams to make it 36 teams in all?
The 4 teams that made the best sense to me at 4:10 am were:
- Arizona Scorpions
- Oklahoma City Steeds
- Sacramento Locomotives
- Salt Lake City Turbos
Then, by 4:30 am, I imagined 4 revised NFL conferences:
- 4—-9 Team Divisions
- Each team plays its 8 other division rivals once a season, then an 8 game rotating non-division schedule = 16 regular season games
- Top 16 teams (by best records) make the playoffs—-#1 plays at home versus #16, etc.
- First Round: 8 games
- Second Round: 4 games
- Semi-finals: 2 games
- Super Bowl: 1 game with no bye week.
I would be very surprised if Michael Bidwill ever gave up the Cardinals’ franchise or its storied name. Nor should he. If I were he, if I ever saw what I did when the Steelers came to town last year again—-I would seriously look into whatever opportunities there may be to take the team to a city that would never allow that to happen.
Here’s a different map than the one that was on Twitter yesterday:
Most popular professional sports teams in every state/province/territory based on google trends data from the past 5 years. From @geographyuniverse on Instagram. pic.twitter.com/PHa3ap3yHr— OnlMaps (@onlmaps) February 3, 2019