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: 30-21
30. PAT FISCHER (CB)
Pat Fischer was the Cards 17th round draft pick in 1961 out of Nebraska. The 5’9″ cornerback was given little chance to make the team, however he impressed coaches with his desire and played special teams for a couple of years before getting his chance to start full time. In 1963, Fisher had 8 interceptions and then followed that up with his best season of his career in ’64 when he picked off 10 passes and scored three TDs He was named to the Pro Bowl and earned All-Pro honors in ’64. He left the Big Red over a salary dispute in 1967 and signed with Redskins where he played 11 more seasons. Fischer finished his seven year St. Louis career with 29 interceptions, 4 fumble recoveries and 4 touchdowns.
29. IRV GOODE (G)
Irv Goode was a two time Pro Bowl guard who played 9 seasons in St. Louis. Goode was the Cards first round selection in the 1962 draft out of Kentucky. He was the Big Red’s rookie of the year while playing tackle in ’62 before being moved to guard the following season. Goode missed only 6 games during his stay in St. Louis and was part of a great offensive line in the 1960s that earned 18 Pro Bowls. He would end his career in Miami, winning a Super Bowl, before retiring in 1974.
28. JOHNNY ROLAND (RB)
Former Mizzou All-American Johnny Roland was the Cards 4th round draft pick in 1966 and was named the NFL rookie of the year when he totaled over 900 yards from scrimmage, scored 5 TDs, threw a TD pass, and led the league in punt returns with an 11.1 average. In 1967, Roland again led the team in rushing with almost 900 yards and scored 11 TDs. One of Roland’s more memorable games came in 1970 when he scored 3 TDs against the Dallas Cowboys in a big 38-0 win on Monday Night Football. The Texas native was the Big Red’s all-time leading rusher until 1978 when the record was broken by Jim Otis. Roland played in St. Louis for seven seasons before finishing out his career with the Giants in 1973. He later coached for the several NFL teams including the Packers, Bears, Rams, and Cardinals. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2005.
27. LUIS SHARPE (T)
Former UCLA star Luis Sharpe was the Big Red’s top pick in 1982 and was named to the NFL all-rookie team. Sharpe became a fixture at left tackle for 13 seasons in St. Louis and Arizona. He missed only 4 games during his 6 years under the Arch and once played 44 games in a 16 month span in 1984-85 for the Big Red and the USFL Memphis Showboats. Sharpe was finally named to the Pro Bowl in 1987 and would earn two more trips while in Arizona.
26. BOBBY JOE CONRAD (WR)
Bobby Joe Conrad was acquired by the Chicago Cardinals for Pat Summerall in 1958. The Texas native went on to star in St. Louis leading the NFL in receptions with 73 in 1963 while being named first team All-Pro. Conrad led the Cards in receiving in ’64 and ’65 and scored 35 TDs during his 9 years in St. Louis. Conrad retired as NFL’s the seventh all-time leading pass receiver with 418 catches and once played in 148 consecutive games. He also was the team’s kicker and played DB early in his career.
25. JOHN DAVID CROW (RB)
Former Heisman Trophy winner John David Crow was arguably the first star of the St. Louis Football Cardinals. The Texas A&M product had his finest NFL season in 1960 when he combined for 1496 yards from scrimmage, scored 9 TDs and set a club record with a 203 yard rushing performance against the Steelers. Crow was named to the Pro Bowl in 1960, and again in 1962 when he combined for almost 1000 yards and scored 17 TDs. Crow was a triple threat out of the backfield. He could run inside or outside and was an excellent receiver, averaging over 14 yards per reception. He could also throw the ball, passing for 591 yards and four TDs while running the half back option. Injuries kept Crow from a possible Hall of Fame career, but he still managed to play eleven years in the league finishing up with San Francisco. He retired as the Cardinals all-time leading rusher.
24. JERRY STOVALL (CB)
Jerry Stovall was a three time Pro Bowl safety who played along side Larry Wilson his entire 9 year career. Stovall was a star running back at LSU and was the Heisman Trophy runner-up in 1962. He was the Cards first round draft pick (2nd overall) in 1963. The Big Red converted Stovall to safety and he was considered one of the top rookies in ’63. He was a vicious tackler against the run and finished his career with 18 interceptions, 6 fumble recoveries, and 2 TDs in 97 games. Stovall was also the team’s punter and kick returner for a couple of seasons averaging over 40 yards per kick and 25 yards per return. Stovall later coached at LSU and had his jersey retired there in 2018.
23. E.J. JUNIOR (LB)
E.J. Junior was an All-Pro and two-time Pro Bowl linebacker who played 7 seasons in St. Louis. The former Alabama star was the Cards 5th overall pick in the 1981 draft. He started the last 13 games in 1981 and finished fourth on the team with 78 tackles earning All-Rookie Team honors. Junior’s best season was in 1984 when he recorded 9.5 sacks and led the team with 118 tackles. His five interceptions in 1985 were the most by a Cardinals linebacker in 30 years. He finished his Big Red career with 533 tackles, 23.5 sacks, 11 interceptions, and 6 fumble recoveries.
22. CONRAD DOBLER (G)
Conrad Dobler played in 3 Pro Bowls during his 6 years in St. Louis and was known as the dirtiest player in the NFL. Dobler was the Cards 5th round draft pick out of Wyoming in 1972. He was actually cut by the team in training camp, but was called back after an injury on the offensive line. He would end up starting 9 games his rookie year and took over full time in 1973. Dobler didn’t miss a start his last four seasons with the Cardinals. He was part of the record breaking offensive line that allowed only 8 sacks in 1975. Dobler was traded to New Orleans in 1978 and finished his career with Buffalo.
21. CURTIS GREER (DE)
Perhaps the greatest defensive end in Big Red history, Curtis Greer recorded 50.5 sacks from 1982-1987, and If you count the 19 sacks Greer had in 1980 and 1981 (before NFL officially recognized sacks) he is the organization’s all-time leader with 69.5. Greer led the defense in sacks his first six seasons with the team and finished second on the team while essentially playing on one knee his final season in 1987. .Greer was the 6th overall pick in the 1980 draft out of Michigan where he was an All-American and finalist for the Outland Trophy.