With the NFL celebrating its centennial season in 2019, the league will soon be announcing its top 100 players of all-time. I thought it would be fun to look back and rank the Big Red’s top 100 players who played in St. Louis.
The Cardinals moved from Chicago after the 1959 season and played 28 years in St. Louis before Bill Bidwill moved to the desert in 1988. Several great players played under the arch during this period including four Hall of Famers.
These rankings are only based on the player’s time spent in St. Louis. Consideration was given to the player’s statistics, All-Pro/Pro Bowl selections, team leadership, and impact in the community. It is next to impossible to compare eras, so many of these picks were very difficult.
The Top 100 St. Louis Football Cardinals of All-Time: 60-51
60. JOE BOSTIC (G)
As former St. Louis Post Dispatch columnist Kevin Horrigan once wrote, “Joe Bostic was never a star, never an All-Pro, never a Pro Bowler. He was just a pretty good player, mostly on some pretty bad teams.” Bostic was the Cardinals 3rd round draft pick out of Clemson in 1979 and became a fixture on the Big Red offensive line for nine seasons. The North Carolina native made his first NFL start against the Pittsburgh Steelers playing across L.C. Greenwood. He was named to the NFL All-Rookie team in 1979. Bostic’s best season came in 1984 when he started all 16 games to help lead the Cardinals to a 9-7 record.
59. TOOTIE ROBBINS (T)
The Big Red drafted Tootie Robbins in the fourth round of the 1982 draft and he played so well in training camp that it prompted Jim Hanifan to move future Hall of Famer Dan Dierdorf to center. Robbins was named to several All-Rookie teams in ’82 and, when healthy, was a dominant right tackle for the Cards. The North Carolina native was a second team All-American at East Carolina. His best year with the Cardinals was in 1984 when he started all 16 games as the Big Red almost won the NFC East. The 6′ 5″ 300-Lb Robbins was plagued by hamstring injuries his first few years in the league, but ended up playing ten seasons with the Cardinals before ending his career in Green Bay.
58. LIONEL WASHINGTON (CB)
Lionel Washington’s first NFL start came in the infamous Monday Night Football debacle against the New York Giants in 1983. Washington started for the injured Jeff Griffin and responded with two interceptions. He picked off six more in the final nine games and followed that up with five picks in 1984. The speedy cornerback from Tulane picked off a pass from Browns QB Gary Danielson in the 1985 season opener and returned it 48 yards for a TD, but broke his leg the following week against the Bengals. He missed most of the remainder of the season in ’85 and new head coach Gene Stallings didn’t like Washington’s technique in ’86 so he was traded to the Raiders. He went on to play 11 more years in the NFL.
57. DAVID GALLOWAY (DT)
David Galloway was the Cards second round draft choice out of Florida in 1982. After dislocating his elbow early in his rookie season, G-Way shed some excess weight, improved his strength, proceeded to finish the season with 2 sacks of Joe Theismann in the season finale. He followed that up with the best year of his career in ’83 with 12 sacks, one interception, one fumble recovery and a key safety late in a 33-28 win over the Seahawks. Galloway led the defensive linemen with 53 tackles in ’84 and finished fourth on the team with 70 tackles playing nose tackle in ’86. Galloway finished his Big Red career with 29.5 sacks and four fumble recoveries. He finished his career with Denver in 1990.
56. JERRY NORTON (CB)
Jerry Norton only played two seasons in St. Louis, but he sure left his mark. In 1960, Norton not only led the NFL with 10 interceptions, but he also was the leagues best punter averaging 45.6 yards per kick. He followed that up with 7 more interceptions in 1961 and led the league in punt yardage. Norton was named All-Pro in 1960 and made the Pro Bowl both seasons in St. Louis. In his 9 year career, Norton averaged almost 44 yards/punt and had 35 interceptions while playing with the Eagles, Cardinals and Cowboys.
55. RON YANKOWSKI (DE)
Ron Yankowski was a strong defensive end who played ten seasons with the Cardinals. The Oklahoma native was the Big Red’s eighth round draft choice out of Kansas State in 1971 and started 10 games his rookie season. The biggest play of his career came in 1974 when he returned a Billy Kilmer fumble 71 yards for a TD in the Cards 17-10 win over the Redskins. Yankowski led the team with 5 sacks in 1977 had four more in 1979 backing up Bob Pollard. He was the last cut in 1980 training camp, but was called back to the team a week later and ended up starting 13 games.
54. DON BRUMM (DE)
Don Brumm was the Big Red’s first round pick in the 1963 draft. The former Purdue star was a rugged, hard charging pass rusher who played eight seasons in St. Louis. Brumm was the team’s rookie of the year in 1963 and led the team in sacks in his 1968 Pro Bowl season. Brumm had 7 fumble recoveries and scored TDs during his Big Red career.
53. ROGER FINNIE (T)
The late Roger Finnie was acquired in a 1973 trade with the New York Jets. The Florida A&M product was a reserve offensive lineman the first two seasons in St. Louis, but became the full time starter at left tackle in 1975. Finnie was part of the historic offensive line that allowed only 8 sacks in ’75 and allowed the fewest sacks in the league from ’74-’76. While the other linemen received the accolades and publicity, the underrated, soft spoken Finnie went about his business protecting Jim Hart’s blind side until being traded to the Saints following the 1978 season.
52. J.T. SMITH (WR)
J.T. Smith was acquired from Kansas City early in the 1985 season and provided an immediate impact at wide receiver. Smith played only three seasons in St. Louis, but set a club record with 80 receptions in 1986. He followed that up with another club record and NFL leading 91 receptions in 1987. Smith also led the league with 1117 yards receiving. Smith totaled 214 receptions for 2712 yards and 15 TDs in his three years in St. Louis. The North Texas product continued his success in Arizona with a Pro Bowl appearance in 1988.
51. VAI SIKAHEMA (KR/PR)
Vai Sikahema played only two seasons in St. Louis, but earned two Pro Bowls and an All-Pro honor as a punter returner. Sikahema was the Cards 10th round draft pick out of BYU in 1986. He led the league with 522 return yards and 2 TDs his rookie season. He followed that up with a league leading 550 yards in 1987. Sikahema returned two punts for TDs against the Buccaneers in 1986 and returned another punt for a TD in the last game played at Busch Stadium against the Giants in 1987. He also averaged over 22 yards per kick off return as well. Sikahema would continue his career in Phoenix and then finished up with Green Bay and Philadelphia before retiring in 1994.