Some may remember former top pick Joe Namath spurning the Cards in 1965 to sign a lucrative contract with the New York Jets of the American Football League. It wasn’t the first time the Cardinals tangled with an AFL team over a draft selection.
Three years earlier the NFL Cardinals and AFL Dallas Texans went to court over Kentucky All-American center Irv Goode who the Grid Birds drafted in the first round of the 1962 draft. Shortly after signing with the Big Red, it was reported that the Texans claimed to have inked Goode to a contract just a few days earlier. But the Kentucky native had no plans to play in Dallas.
“I’m working for the Cardinals this summer,” Goode told the St. Louis Post Dispatch in June of 1962. “My wife and I are staying with her folks in Kirkwood.”
It took a few months, but ultimately a judge ruled that Goode belonged to the Cardinals. The 6-foot 4-inch 240 pound lineman arrived at his first training camp and realized he wasn’t going to get much action at center behind Bob DeMarco. But, an injury to starting left tackle Ed Cook provided an opportunity for Goode to not only learn a new position, but get playing time.
“I like it,” Goode said of his new position in a St. Louis Post Dispatch interview in September 1962. “When Ed Cook got hurt and they tried me at tackle, that was the longest I had got to play in a long time.”
“It’s different. It’s more man against man. Playing center your first concern is making the snap, getting the ball back right. Then in your blocking you usually drop back and just help out.”
Goode started 13 games his rookie season in 1962 and was named team rookie of the year. He started 13 more games his sophomore season before gaining 15 pounds and moving to guard in 1964.
His first match up was not easy an easy one. The Cardinals opened the season against Bob Lilly and the Dallas Cowboys.
“He beat me most of the time” recalled Goode after the Cards 16-6 victory at the Cotton Bowl. “They talk about Henry Jordan of Green Bay, how quick and fast he is. Well, Lilly is like him, just as quick and bigger besides.”
Goode must have learned quickly from any mistakes he made that night in Dallas because he went on to have an outstanding season at guard and was named to his first Pro Bowl. He played seven more years in St. Louis, had a another Pro Bowl season in 1967, and, along with Bob Reynolds, Bob DeMarco, Ernie McMillan and Ken Gray, formed one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. The group combined for 18 Pro Bowls in the 1960s.
“Kenny (Gray) was part of the deal where we didn’t win. The people who made the Hall of Fame, like Jerry Kramer, played on winning teams. Kenny sort of got passed over and I think it was because we weren’t winning many games.”
One of Irv’s most memorable games came in October 1964 against the Giants at old Sportsman’s Park (Busch II). The two teams played to a 10-10 tie in a torrential downpour. The contest became known as the “Mud Bowl.”
“Bob DeMarco got hurt and I moved over to center in that game. The first snap went over Johnson’s head. So we started using the shotgun. The band came out at halftime and made the field even worse. One time I went up to snap the ball and I looked down and there was a flute. Somebody in the band had dropped their flute. Everyone was laughing when I held it up and showed the referee. That was a crazy game.”
Falling Out With Management
Goode was traded to the Buffalo Bills in 1972 for a tackle who would never play for the Cardinals and was traded to Miami the following season where he would win a Super Bowl ring as a backup offensive lineman.
Goode’s career in St. Louis ended like many other former Big Red stars.
After the 1970 season Goode asked Cardinals vice president Bill Bidwill for a pay raise and brought a folder of information. “I was more prepared than he was,” Goode said. Bidwill told Irv that money was tight and he couldn’t offer him a pay raise. Goode accepted that but told Bidwill that “next year, we’re going to talk some money.”
The next year, Bidwill told him that there was no money for a salary increase because they had to pay rookie Dan Dierdorf. “He was so full of shit, it was unreal,” Goode said. “I stood up and swiped my arm across Bidwill’s desk, knocking everything to the floor. “F—k you, trade me,” he told the team’s defacto general manager. A couple of weeks later Goode was traded to Buffalo.
Goode blocked for OJ Simpson for a few exhibition games in 1972 before suffering a season ending injury. “If he (OJ) had stopped to sign autographs, he would never have made a meeting, he would never have eaten, or sleep for that matter. There would be 2000 people at practice. Just to watch him.”
Irv recently told a story about his former Bills teammate Paul Guidry who owned a restaurant called Mothers back in the day. Irv loved the Buffalo wings at Mothers and asked Paul if he could have the recipe. Paul obliged and Irv later passed it on to Jackie Smith and claims that “Jackie’s Place” became the first St. Louis restaurant to serve authentic Buffalo Wings.
Goode also likes to tell the story of how Don Shula once relaxed the team dress code prior to a long trip from Miami to Oakland, but one of his teammates didn’t understand what business casual meant.
“Jim Kiick came to the airport and walked right past Shula and some other coaches wearing a muscle man tee shirt with the Statue of Liberty on front giving everybody the finger. He also wore bell-bottom pants with two pockets in the front, but none in the back. And he had on flip-flops.”
“Shula didn’t say a word to him or anything, but the next week he stood up and said ‘Gentleman, we have a new dress code.’ He explained it was a sport shirt with a collar and the pants must have four pockets on them. So that corrected the situation, but it was unbelievable the shirt that Kiick had on.”
Irv retired after the 1974 season and bought a sporting goods store in St. Louis. He ran Goode Sports Center off of Manchester Road and Kingshighway for six years and then former teammate Chuck Walker helped him get into the insurance business where he still works part time. Irv still lives in the St. Louis area with his wife Anne. He enjoys spending time with his family, friends and former teammates, many who still live in the area.
He was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 2018 and the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame in 2020. He was also inducted into the University of Kentucky’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2005 and received the honor of Legend of the SEC in 2008.