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: 50-41
50. BENNY PERRIN (S)
The late Benny Perrin was the Cards 3rd round pick in 1982 out of Alabama where he won two National Championships under Bear Bryant. Perrin had 9 INTs and two fumble recoveries during his 4 year NFL career and was the Big Red co-rookie of the year in ’82. Perrin started his first 41 NFL games, but a nagging knee injury cost him half the season in ’85 and would ultimately force him to retire the following training camp. Perrin was a gritty player, a team leader, and played through numerous injuries in his short career. He battled CTE for several years before passing away in 2017.
49. BILLY STACY (CB)
Pro Bowl cornerback Billy Stacy had 15 interceptions, 6 fumble recoveries and scored three TDs from 1960-1963. He also played some receiver during his Pro Bowl season in 1961 and caught 12 passes for 242 yards including an 80 yard TD reception. Stacy was the last NFL player to record TDs by reception, fumble return, and interception return in a single season until JJ Watt did so in 2014. Stacy was the third overall pick by the Chicago Cardinals out of Mississippi State in 1959. He retired in 1965 and later became mayor of Starkville, MS.
48. JIMMY HILL (CB)
The late Jimmy Hill played 9 seasons for the Chicago/St. Louis Cardinals. The fleet, tough cornerback from Sam Houston State earned Pro Bowl honors in 1960-1962, intercepting 9 passes and scoring two touchdowns. Larry Wilson credited the veteran Hill with helping him transition into playing safety in the NFL. Unfortunately, Hill may be most remembered for a questionable sideline hit on Bart Starr in 1963 which left the Packer QB with a broken hand. Hill passed away in 2006 at the age of 78.
47. BUBBA BAKER (DE)
Al “Bubba” Baker was acquired from the Detroit Lions in 1983 for Mike Dawson. Baker immediately provided a solid pass rush the Big Red had been lacking from the left side. He recorded 37.5 sacks in his four years in St. Louis (1983-1986), leading the team with 10 in ’86. Baker was the Detroit Lions second round pick in 1977 out of Colorado State and was part of their “Silver Rush” defense. He had 23 sacks his rookie year with the Lions. He later played for the Vikings and Browns before retiring and now operates a mulit-million dollar BBQ business in Cleveland (Bubba’s-Q Boneless Ribs).
46. WAYNE MORRIS (RB)
Wayne Morris rushed for over 3300 yards and totaled 42 TDs for the Big Red from ‘76-83. The SMU product became the starter after Terry Metcalf left for Canada in 1978 and would later be converted to fullback where he blocked for perennial Pro Bowler OJ Anderson. His best game came against the Vikings in 1977 when he totaled over 200 yards and 2 TDs in 27-7 victory. Morris was a 5th round draft pick in 1976 and graduated as SMU’s all-time leading rusher. He played his final NFL season with San Diego in 1984.
45. MARK ARNESON (LB)
Mark Arneson was a second round pick in 1972 out of Arizona where he earned All Conference honors. The hard working and durable Arneson was the team’s rookie of the year in 1972 and did not miss a game his first seven seasons before suffering a knee injury in 1979. Arneson was always among the team leaders in tackles and finished his nine year career with 5 interceptions, 18 fumble recoveries, and a TD which came on his 30th birthday against the New York Giants in 1979. He also intercepted a Fran Tarkenton pass in the 1974 playoff game against the Vikings.
44. MACARTHUR LANE (RB)
The late MacArthur Lane was the Cardinals top draft pick in 1968 out of Utah State. The California native played sparingly his first two seasons, but had a breakout Pro Bowl season in 1970 when he rushed for over 900 yards and led the league in rushing TDs with 11. Lane led the team in rushing in ’70 and ’71 and was a fine receiver out of the backfield averaging 11 yards per catch. He was traded to the Packers in 1972 after referring to Bill Bidwill as a “fat SOB” after a late season loss in Philadelphia. Lane played three seasons in Green Bay and finished his career in Kansas City with the Chiefs.
43. BILL KOMAN (LB)
Bill Koman was a fixture on the Big Red defense during his nine seasons with the Cardinals. He never missed a game after the team moved from Chicago in 1960, playing in 120 consecutive. Koman was a 2x Pro Bowl linebacker who finished his St. Louis career with 6 interceptions, 14 fumble recoveries, and one touchdown. Koman played college ball at North Carolina and was originally drafted by the Baltimore Colts. He retired as a Cardinal after the 1967 season.
42. JOHN GILLIAM (WR)
John Gilliam was acquired by the BIg Red in 1969 and immediately became their top deep threat receiver. The dazzling speedster out of South Carolina led the Cards in receiving all three years he played in St. Louis, averaging over 20 yards per reception and scoring 18 TDs. He was inexplicably traded to the Vikings for Gary Cuozzo in 1972 and would go on to play in four straight Pro Bowls. He also scored 2 TDs vs the Big Red in the 1974 playoff loss at Metropolitan Stadium.
41. BOB REYNOLDS (T)
Bob Reynolds was the Big Red’s second round draft pick out of Bowling Green in 1963. The big left tackle became a full time starter in 1964 and only missed one game the next eight seasons. He earned Pro Bowl honors in 1966, 1968, and 1969. Reynolds was part of an underrated offensive line in the 1960s that included Ernie McMillan, Ken Gray, Bob Demarco, and Irv Goode.
Revisit Player Rankings 100-91
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Imagine Gilliam playing for Don Coryell ?
I guess the Cards were in dire need of career backup Cuozzo … haha