(Excerpt from February 20, 1978 Edition of Sports Illustrated)
HIS PLAYERS HAVE LITTLE USE FOR ST. LOUIS OWNER BILL BIDWILL, AND THE TEAM IS DISINTEGRATING. COACH DON CORYELL AND ALL-PRO GUARD CONRAD DOBLER ARE GONE. TERRY METCALF MAY BE THE NEXT DEFECTOR.
Written by Joe Marshall
Above the hallway leading to the offices of the St. Louis Cardinals’ coaches in Busch Memorial Stadium there is a new ceiling. A leak caused the old ceiling to collapse back on Dec. 10. For St. Louis, more than the roof fell in that day. The Cardinals were springing leaks all over the place. On the heels of a 26-20 loss to Washington that ended his team’s playoff hopes, St. Louis Coach Don Coryell leveled a verbal blast at local fans and the Cardinal management. “I’m not staying in a place I’m not wanted,” Coryell raged. “I’d like to be fired. Let me have a high school job.”
Last Friday, two months to the day from Coryell’s outburst, the Cardinals patched up one of their leaks by announcing that through a “mutual agreement” between Coryell and and team owner Bill Bidwill, Coryell would no longer be the coach. Unfortunately, Bidwill’s patchwork wasn’t as neat as the handiwork on the ceiling. For the last two months the Cardinals, who under Coryell had been one of the NFL’s most successful and exciting teams, have been in turmoil, and the once dazzling Cardiac Cards were being called the Chaotic Cards.
“As the verbiage flew, Bidwill had the locks changed on the Cardinal offices to keep Coryell out and to prevent the assistant coaches from scattering to other teams with Cardinal game plans. Of course, they could have the college draft lists”
Among other things, Coryell had complained that Bidwill’s tightfistedness in salary matters saddled him with a lot of unhappy players. In fact, 12 Cardinals, including Running Back Terry Metcalf, the notorious fumbler, have rebelled against Bidwill’s penuriousness by becoming free agents. All are actively shopping their services with other teams. A likely free agent, Wide Receiver Ike Harris, was dealt down the river to New Orleans along with disgruntled All-Pro Guard Conrad Dobler, who demanded to be traded when Bidwill declined to renegotiate his contract. In return for Harris and Dobler, St. Louis acquired Bob Pollard, a defensive end known as Captain Crunch—when known at all—and Guard Terry Stieve. Coryell, still the coach at the time, learned of the trade from a local reporter. The deal appears to be so lopsided in favor of New Orleans that it has diminished what little credibility the Cardinal front office may still have.