As we move closer to the 2023 NFL Draft (April 27-29), The Big Red Zone is looking back on each of the 28 St. Louis Cardinals drafts (1960-87). This installment focuses on the 1972 Draft, which was held February 1-2, 1972 in New York.
After the 1972 NFL Draft, his first and only draft as the head coach of the Cardinals, Bob Hollway gave his definition of what constituted a good draft.
“You should get two starters out of the draft each year and five players from that draft should make your team,” Hollway, who wasn’t hired by the Cardinals until two weeks after the previous year’s draft, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
By Hollway’s standard, the Big Red had a good draft in 1972. Four of the players they selected started as rookies: wide receiver Ahmad Rashad (13 games), linebacker Mark Arneson (10), guard Conrad Dobler (nine), and defensive end Martin Imhof (eight). Five others made the ’72 roster, but they didn’t stick around long.
“The doctors with the Bills told me that the Cardinals were telling everyone that I had mental problems and that’s why I couldn’t get along with people,” Ahmad Rashad said, his voice inflecting both laughter and anger at the same time.
It is easy to understand how Rashad could drive other people crazy, like cornerbacks. Willie Brown, the All-Pro of the Oakland Raiders, wound up talking to himself after Rashad turned him in circles and tied his shoelaces together during the Monday Night Game of the Week on ABC-TV.
Even Howard Cosell, given to hyperbole on some things as mundane as a stadium hot-dog vendor, was going nuts over Rashad’s two-touchdown performance that gave the Buffalo Bills a 21-20 victory. “In Buffalo,” Cosell raved, “the acquisition of Rashad is being termed the ‘Steal of the Century.'”
The victims of this outlandish thievery are the Cardinals, whose state of mind may be more in question than Rashad’s considering that they traded him straight up for second-string quarterback Dennis Shaw last January. Not that Shaw isn’t a competent professional; it’s just that Rashad has the talent to become one of the greatest receivers in the National Football League.