The Arizona Cardinals football franchise.
One of the longest-spanning franchises in professional sports and ... also one of the losingest.
Their long-suffering fanbase has not only seen the team move from Chicago to St. Louis and then again out west to Phoenix in 1988 but has also seen the team be affected by a multitude of culture problems.
- Stories of players not having properly provided pads or having to pay out of pocket for extra socks.
- Ownership cheapness and failure to hire management from outside the organization under Bill Bidwill (and Michael for his tenure thus far) or struggling to pay players who deserved it meaning they’d go to other teams (or have to flirt with the 49ers in Kurt Warner’s case)
- Missing on draft picks in bizarre cases such as trading down from Terrell Suggs, passing on Adrian Peterson for Levi Brown
- And of course, the recent rash of failure which has resulted in the Cardinals have three top 10 picks in 5 years, with two of those being in the top 3 and a lack of being able to be a solid team for more than 3 years at a time.
Their fans have put up with it all. Some left, others stayed and there’s some who are long-timers (Such as our site’s own Walter Mitchell) who have been around to see it all.
Meanwhile, this current Cardinals’ offseason has been looking specifically at one figure for the team’s development into possibly becoming a legitimate, respectable franchise: Sean Payton.
The Saints coach was the betting favorite to be the next Cardinals’ head coach, but there have been a few caveats.
Mostly because Payton, who is currently living in Los Angeles, might have been a more favorable option than Arizona since multiple sources have described his desire to stay on the west coast.
More specifically? Los Angeles Rams, Los Angeles Chargers and Arizona Cardinals as the 3 teams listed.
Arizona: Vance Joseph or Payton— Benjamin Allbright (@AllbrightNFL) January 11, 2023
Carolina: Steichen or Ben Johnson
Denver: Harbaugh or Quinn
Indy: Harbaugh, Johnson, Saturday
LAR (*if it comes open): Payton or R Morris https://t.co/Igz3A0vIQH
Meanwhile, though keep an eye on what happens with the #Rams, because if that opens up, that could change the game...for several candidates, including Sean Payton...— JosinaAnderson (@JosinaAnderson) January 12, 2023
Cardinals fans have looked at Sean Payton as, essentially, a coach who could provide all of the “answers” to the issues that currently plague their team:
- Insecurity at the QB position with Kyler Murray’s ACL as a shorter quarterback needing a different type of offense
- Keeping veteran talent on the roster vs. a tear-down that sees trades take place
- Adding a known quantity on the defensive side of the ball in Vic Fangio as his DC of choice (a need with any offensive coach as you can see issues with finding a coach on one side of the ball struggling to patch up the other)
- A leader of men who also won’t simply kowtow to an Owner or General Manager’s whims (as was the case from the Keim era after Bruce Arians left the team)
It’s always been the case, however, for Cardinals fans to be disappointed.
To go in expecting failure.
And there was a lot of rumors about Rams HC Sean McVay stepping down from the team and an instant red phone hotline call going out from Sean Payton to the Rams to take over the job.
Payton was born in California, after all. And lives in LA to visit the Fox Studio for his current media gig.
Arizona’s also struggled to find top candidates or even hire their first choice under Michael Bidwill: Bruce Arians (4th choice after Reid, McCoy and others) Steve Wilks (4th choice after Vikings OC and more, with multiple turned down interviews) and even before Kliff Kingsbury, the team’s love with Mike McCarthy that would have seen them give him full personnel control.
All went elsewhere and it felt like many may have used AZ for leverage.
How does McDonald’s tie in? Well for over a decade, the fast food giant used the phrase and song “You deserve a break today” in their advertising, as seen below:
The idea being simple: you’ve worked hard and done a lot, come to us and have a break from life or even a break from cooking!
One could argue that with Sean McVay returning to the sideline for the Rams that while he’s always killed the Cardinals...his return may have helped them in their pursuit of Payton.
More on McVay returning:
"... It became clear to me, I don't want to run away from adversity. I want to run through it."@JayGlazer spoke with Sean McVay after his decision to return as the Rams Head Coach next season. pic.twitter.com/UckLa9BYQs— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) January 14, 2023
And I think there’s plenty of Cardinals fans going into today’s playoff matchup between the Los Angeles Chargers and the Jacksonville Jaguars who are feeling the same way...because the Chargers were indeed one of those teams (heck they were the other team in the Sean Payton sweepstakes that was joked about when Arizona & LAC played each other this year).
The Chargers’ head coach played his starters in a meaningless Week 18 game that cost them their second wide receiver/deep threat in Mike Williams on the outside.
And it has many people speculating if his seat is once again red hot as far as the team moving on from him and looking towards Sean Payton instead...
If the Chargers lose and Brandon Staley gets let go I will say that this played a major part in it. https://t.co/u5r0F8ERdg— Benjamin Allbright (@AllbrightNFL) January 13, 2023
So let’s tie this all together.
The Cardinals, long-suffering fanbase that they’ve had, and have endured everything from suspensions to criminal speeding to firings and assault charges with a Kyler Murray ACL...they deserve a break.
Hey, and it’s not just with the Chargers! The Cowboys had Sean Payton at one time and there’s been plenty of rumors that Jerry Jones wanted to have him be his head coach, even at the cost of Mike McCarthy. A loss by Dallas to a bad Bucs team (albeit with Tom Brady) might send emotions spiraling in a different direction there, too.
Many Cards fans are already expecting that there’s no way that them being the frontrunners will hold...and no surprise why. This post on the Cardinals subreddit was already getting a lot of attention but it holds true for most of the fanbase as well:
Good things just don’t happen to this franchise. They just don’t get the lucky breaks. Or if they do, things last for a bit but then go back to the “Same Old Cardinals” soon enough.
So here’s what I’m asking for, wishing for, praying for, whatever you want to call it.
A break today.
I like the Jaguars (some awesome fans) but if there’s one thing that I’m hoping for, it’s for a break for the Cardinals. That the Chargers could either get a win or prove themselves to a point where there’s no changes made at their head coach position.
This is a break that they’ve needed for a long time. But especially right now, with how close the team has been to having everything from stability to capability and an actual plan and vision with a quarterback who’s got all the talent in the world but just needs a proper rudder to steer the ship away from what could be yet “another” teardown effort in a few years’ time.
So for today only, let’s go Chargers. I’m sorry, Jaguars.
You guys are playoff teams.
It’s us who need a break in a positive direction today as Cardinals fans.