The Top 100 St. Louis Football Cardinals (90-81)

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 go 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: 90-81

90. Donny Anderson (RB)

“The Golden Palomino” Donny Anderson.

Donny Anderson was acquired for MacArthur Lane in 1972 and scored 25 TDs in just three seasons in St. Louis. Anderson lead the team in rushing in 1972 and finished second in the league with 13 TDs in 1973. The versatile Anderson also was team co-leader with 41 receptions in ’73. He was the Green Bay Packers first round draft pick out of Texas Tech in 1965 and was a member of their Super Bowl teams in 1966-1967.

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The Top 100 St. Louis Football Cardinals (100-91)

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.

So here goes.

The Top 100 St. Louis Football Cardinals of All-Time: 100-91

100. CARL BIRDSONG (P)

Carl Birdsong played 5 seasons in St. Louis.

It seemed the Big Red never took the punting position seriously. In the 1960s they used safeties Jerry Norton and Jerry Stovall, kick returner Chuck Latourette, and even Jackie Smith. In the 70s it seemed they had a new punter every season. Hal Roberts, Jeff West, and Terry Joyce among others. And then there was the Steve Little experiment in 1978/79.

After 21 seasons Carl Birdsong finally brought some stability to the position. He was an undrafted free agent out of tiny SW Oklahoma St. where he was an All-American punter. Birdsong played for the Cardinals five seasons (1981-1985) and had the longest punt in the NFL his rookie season (75 yards) as he was named to the UPI All-Rookie team. His best year was in 1982 when he averaged 43.8 yards per punt. He followed that up with a Pro Bowl berth in 1983 when he finished second in the NFL with a net average of 37.3 yards. Birdsong lost his job in 1986 in part because new kicker John Lee’s kickoffs were too short and the head coach Gene Stallings wanted someone who could punt and kick off.

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Why Cardinals preferred John David Crow over Jim Brown

Excellent recount of how the Big Red reportedly turned down an offer of Jim Brown for John David Crow. In hindsight, the Cards should have made this trade, but Crow would have been a Hall of Famer himself if not for injuries in 1961 and 1963.

RetroSimba

The NFL’s St. Louis Cardinals may have rejected a chance to acquire running back Jim Brown.

On Feb. 4, 1961, the St. Louis Globe-Democrat reported the Cleveland Browns twice offered to trade Brown to the Cardinals for running back John David Crow, but were turned down.

The Cardinals confirmed the story and the Browns denied it.

In retrospect, the Cardinals should have done the deal if given the chance, but at the time the decision wasn’t so obvious.

First-round picks

The potential blockbuster featured two of pro football’s premier players.

Brown, who played college football at Syracuse, was selected by the Browns in the first round of the 1957 draft and went on to lead the NFL in rushing in eight of his nine seasons.

Crow, the 1957 Heisman Trophy winner from Texas A&M, was selected by the Chicago Cardinals in the first round of the 1958 draft. He was…

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How Bart Starr got bad break in game vs. Cardinals

Another great blog from Mark Tomasik over at RetroSimba. This one about Jimmy Hill’s hit on Bart Starr which may have cost the Packers a shot at another NFL Title.

RetroSimba

An encounter with St. Louis Cardinals defensive back Jimmy Hill put Green Bay Packers quarterback Bart Starr out of action.

Starr, who led the Packers to five NFL championships and twice was named winner of the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player award, died on May 26, 2019, at 85. A member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Starr played in 10 postseason games and the Packers won nine of those.

On Oct. 20, 1963, the Packers played the Cardinals at Busch Stadium in St. Louis and Starr started at quarterback for the 44th consecutive game.

In the third quarter, Starr was flushed out of the pocket by the Cardinals’ pass rush and took off running. After a gain of 15 yards, Starr was headed out of bounds when Hill swung a forearm into him. The force of the blow knocked both Starr and Hill off their feet.

As Starr…

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2019 Jim Hart Celebrity Classic Photo Gallery

Gallery

The 12th annual Jim Hart Celebrity Golf Classic and Casino Night was held on April 28th and 29th at the Legends Country Club in Eureka, MO. Several alumni and celebrities attended including Jim Hart, OJ Anderson, Roger Wehrli, Mel Gray, … Continue reading

MacArthur Lane scored big with 1970 NFL Cardinals

Read about MacArthur Lane’s great season in 1970 and the behind the scenes relationship with owner Bill Bidwill which eventually led to his trade to the Green Bay Packers.

RetroSimba

For one glorious season, St. Louis Cardinals running back MacArthur Lane rumbled through defenses like a heavy-duty Mack truck and rushed for more touchdowns than anyone else in the NFL.

Lane died May 4, 2019, at 77. He played in the NFL for 11 seasons with the Cardinals (1968-71), Green Bay Packers (1972-74) and Kansas City Chiefs (1975-78).

His most memorable year was 1970, his third Cardinals season, when his skills as a punishing rusher with a linebacker’s approach were in peak form. Lane, 6 feet 1 and 220 pounds, rushed for 977 yards and 11 touchdowns in 14 games that season. He also had 32 receptions, including two for touchdowns. Lane was the 1970 NFL leader in both rushing touchdowns and total touchdowns.

Born in Oakland in 1942 and named in honor of U.S. Army general Douglas MacArthur, Lane’s 1970 performance prompted Sports Illustrated to note, “MacArthur Lane gives…

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Larry Wilson and his amazing pick of a Bill Nelsen pass

Read about Larry Wilson’s infamous interception with two broken hands in a 1965 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Another great post by Mike Tomasik over at Retro Simba!

RetroSimba

Larry Wilson caused NFL quarterbacks to lay awake at night with worry and Bill Nelsen was no exception.

Nelsen, who died April 11, 2019, at 78, had a prominent role in the play that defined the Pro Football Hall of Fame career of Wilson, the St. Louis Cardinals safety who was as tough as any player in the NFL.

On Nov. 7, 1965, in a game between the Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Wilson intercepted a pass from Nelsen while wearing casts on both fractured hands.

Wilson’s performance remains an enduring testament to his willpower and illustrates why he was so widely respected.

Mind game

Wilson, who played his entire professional career (1960-72) with the Cardinals, fractured his hands in a game against the New York Giants on Oct. 31, 1965, at New York.

Cardinals head coach Wally Lemm said Wilson would play the following…

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NFL DRAFT: Ranking the Big Red First Round Picks

The 1964 NFL Draft War Room

On the eve of the 2019 NFL Draft, let’s take a close look at the 31 St. Louis Football Cardinals first round draft picks.

The Big Red drafted four quarterbacks who combined to start only 5 games for the team. Two Hall of Famers were drafted, but only one actually suited up in St. Louis. Of the 31 top picks, 12 can be considered busts. Many of these picks were made by the late George Boone, who was the team’s long time player personnel director. He may or may not have had incriminating photos of owner Bill Bidwill.

And so, here’s my ranking of the Big Red first round draft picks, worst to first. Let me know what you think!

31. Clyde Duncan WR (1984 – 17th Pick)

The Big Red passed on eventual rookie of the year Louis Lipps and drafted Duncan  after one good college season at Tennessee. There was only one problem according to then head coach Jim Hanifan, “He couldn’t play.” Duncan, who was admittedly surprised to be a first round pick, held out of training camp and then suffered a shoulder injury. He caught only four passes in his career and was out of football after two season.

Clyde Duncan

30. Larry Stegent RB (1970 – 8th Pick)

The Big Red drafted the injury prone running back out of John David Crow’s old school Texas A&M. The Cards drafted him despite Stegent playing very little his senior season. He was injured before training camp in the College All-Star game and then tore knee ligaments on his first preseason carry and was out for the year. He caught one pass in 1971 and tore up his other knee and never played another down in the NFL.

29. Kelly Stouffer QB (1987 – 6th Pick)

On the 10th anniversary of the Steve Pisarkiewicz pick, the Big Red reached for the relatively unknown Stouffer out of Colorado State who also admitted he was shocked to be taken that early in the draft. He also held out of training camp and never signed with the Big Red. He was traded a year later to Seattle for three draft picks where he started 16 games in four seasons.

Kelly Stouffer at Colorado State
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For The Birds — Steve Jones and the Cardinals

Nice story on former Big Red running back Steve Jones who scored 9 TDs for the Cardinals in 1976.

Alex Podlogar

Steve Jones, from his days as one of the greatest Duke Blue Devils of all time.

 

I’m posting last week’s column in this space because, well, because I was pretty pleased with how it came out, and as a writer, that doesn’t always happen. So allow me to feel good about myself for a bit. And if you missed the column about local sports star Steve Jones and his ties to the NFL’s Cardinals, here you go:

For The Birds

They get together every year now.

Before 2007, that didn’t happen. After all, the morning after the team he owns, the Arizona Cardinals, punched its ticket for the franchise’s first Super Bowl, notoriously frugal owner Bill Bidwill drank day-old coffee — grounds that were made 24 hours earlier, and rewarmed twice.

But he said he drank it smiling, so there’s that.

Since Bill’s boy Michael took over football operations, though, former Cardinals, be they of the Chicago variety, who last won the franchise a championship…

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Remembering Dr. Prentice Gautt

Prentice Gautt is a name that may not be familiar to younger generations of football fans. But the former Oklahoma Sooner, Cleveland Brown, and St. Louis Cardinal running back was a pioneer in the 1950s, becoming the first African-American to play football at OU, joining the team just one year after most racial restrictions were lifted at the school.

Gautt became a two-time All-Big Eight running back, led the team in rushing his junior and senior seasons, and earned MVP of the 1959 Orange Bowl. He was named an Academic All-American his senior season.

Although Gautt excelled on the gridiron, he faced many of the same racial obstacles encountered by Jackie Robinson off the field. Many local restaurants refused to serve him and he was not allowed to stay in some hotels with the rest of the team. Gautt also went through verbal and physical abuse at OU, including late hits in practice.

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