Abraham Miller once said the following:
And for better or worse, the Arizona Cardinals have had a reputation of their own that hasn’t been sparkling given the history of the team since its founding, and lack of winning amongst the history of professional sports franchises.
Charles Bidwill originally received the team through some...interesting ties to say the least, and long-time team owner Bill Bidwill had a reputation as being cheap. Players shared stories, many including being charged for replacement socks. There was good done as far as generosity and other endeavors toward persons of color and bringing an NFL team to a burgeoning city of Phoenix.
Reputations and legacies are complex.
And, for better or worse, at least this far in his tenure, Michael Bidwill taking over for his father seemed to be pointing the team into a direction that would change them from a laughingstock to a legitimate NFL Franchise:
- The team went from playing in a rented college stadium to one of the best rated in the National Football League
- The Cardinals’ owner changed the reputation of the team’s spending, with large contracts handed out to star players including Larry Fitzgerald and more
- The franchise had its highest winning percentage following the team moving on from Ken Whisenhunt and Rod Graves to HC Bruce Arians and GM Steve Keim, who was an internal promotion from within Arizona’s scouting department & were both coach & GM of the year recipients
- Multiple playoff appearances, including a Super Bowl run, a NFC Championship run and even a return to the playoffs following the 2021 season
- Even amidst a difficult offseason, Bidwill made the expensive choice of moving on from HC Kliff Kingsbury and GM Steve Keim despite recent contract extensions
All of these were areas that, while maybe it’s just by comparison to his father, were considered high marks under Michael Bidwill for the organization.
We’ve seen tumultuous times from the 2018 season that featured multiple DUI’s by team executives to the Kliff Kingsbury hiring (and a lawsuit in which former HC Steve Wilks named the Cardinals) and the team’s rocky up and down performance on and off-field (arrests, public contract disputes and team facility grades following a 4 win season) has led the Cardinals to what seems to be a never ending series of rock bottoms.
It culminated with Michael Bidwill directly today being accused of some VERY serious misconduct:
Former Cardinals exec Terry McDonough filed an arbitration claim today to Roger Goodell against Cardinals’ owner Michael Bidwell, alleging cheating, discrimination and harassment. Bidwill said the claims are baseless.https://t.co/MShAKIGk5M— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 4, 2023
All of these items, especially in today’s era of social media and a spotlight on minorities & women are...a poor look. Especially since the man who claims it in Terry McDonough claims to have the burner phone that was used for the Cardinals’ to skirt NFL rules during the Steve Keim suspension.
Just posted: longtime #azcardinals exec Terry McDonough accusing team owner Michael Bidwill of "burner phone" scheme to communicate with then-gm Steve Keim during Keim's 2018 DUI suspension. Witih @slmandel & @kalynkahler https://t.co/4GT9YNGLtG— Mike Sando (@SandoNFL) April 4, 2023
It’s a shocking set of claims, and what’s crazy is that it continues to just add more to the fire and it’ll ultimately probably result in a loss of draft picks and a possible suspension at least for the Team Ownership....at worst?
The commissioner is conducting arbitration and what’s interesting is that we had reached a point where...it felt like Michael Bidwill was starting to right the ship a bit.
Maybe that’s like tossing a life ring onto the Titanic, but the team clearly under Bidwill, Keim and Kliff, had reached the need for a hard reset and the loss of Kyler Murray to an ACL injury seemed to reset the team in multiple ways and new uniforms have been rumored to be on the horizon.
This new story has surfaced and...the response was swift.
From the story: The filing says that the day after McDonough told Bidwill neither he nor Wilks wanted to communicate with Keim during the suspension, Bidwill summoned him to his office and wrote him up for "insubordination."— Cameron Cox (@CamCox12) April 4, 2023
Moreover, The Cardinals admitted that there were efforts made within the organization with burner phones.
In the story — the Cardinals admitted to ESPN that another executive interfered with Keim’s suspension protocol… That caused Bidwill to take “swift action” and directed that phones be retrieved and "communications stopped.”— Cameron Cox (@CamCox12) April 4, 2023
These allegations will damage Michael, and might be the cherry on top to the point where his reputation, and his family’s, may never recover from.
Often it takes winning or commitment to change & betterment to undo a bad reputation, and we saw that under Michael Bidwill’s tenure as team president...to a point.
The best thing he should be able to do now, honestly, might be to accept the charges that are true, acknowledge the damages and make concerted steps toward humility and true change. I’m one to believe in second chances...for those who show that they will reward that second change through their efforts & being a better person.
This response from the Cardinals, however, is almost as tone-deaf as it gets.
#azcardinals deny Terry McDonough's claims against owner Michael Bidwill. Screenshot includes team statement through "external public relations advisor" Jim McCarthy https://t.co/f7UZ6aJJLz pic.twitter.com/46dv4aTsCg— Mike Sando (@SandoNFL) April 4, 2023
So when confronted, Bidwill attacked the person and character of Terry McDonough?
And it’s a shame because at the end of the day, Michael Bidwill’s reputation had a chance to be seen as a man who learned from his father’s mistakes and saved the reputation of a sports city and an organization.
Now? Calls for him to sell the team will only increase, and his public persona of being in the owner’s box, interviews on the radio, greeting fans to cheers (and not boos) in training camp during the Red-White practice, having the Governor watch the game with him...all of that might be gone.
And like Suns fans have come to learn, any success that follows should ownership be forced to move on will only focus on crediting the new group. Instead of saving his father’s tarnished legacy, the reputation would be that of destroying it.
And those who have supported the Cardinals all while this was happening, being in the dark through it all...they deserve better.