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 1974 Draft, which was held January 29-30 in New York.
With the exception of first-round pick J.V. Cain and fourth-round choice Ike Harris, the Cardinals didn’t get much help from this draft. And both of those players had short careers in St. Louis.
A tight end from Colorado, Cain was a backup in his first two seasons in St. Louis. He became a full-time starter in 1976, and caught a combined 51 passes for 728 yards and nine touchdowns in ’76 and ’77. He suffered a torn Achilles tendon in training camp in 1978 and missed that entire season.
A year later, on July 22—his 28th birthday—tragedy struck. Cain collapsed on the field at Lindenwood College while running a pass pattern during a non-contact training camp practice. While coaches and teammates watched in shock, medical personnel gave Cain CPR. He was transported to St. Joseph’s Hospital and died shortly thereafter. An autopsy showed that his death was due to a rare congenital heart problem.
The St. Louis Cardinals and San Diego Chargers became the first teams to play an NFL game outside of North America on August 16, 1976.
The game was called the Mainichi Star Bowl and was sponsored by the Mainichi Daily News, an English-language newspaper in Tokyo. However, a lettuce farmer from California, Frank Takahashi, was the sole promoter of the game. A self-described “football nut,” Takahashi foot the entire bill for the exhibition contest.
“If we have a sellout, I will break even,” Takahashi told Doug Grow of the St. Louis Post Dispatch in a 1976 interview.
Unfortunately, the game was not a sellout and Takahashi reportedly lost tens of thousands of dollars to bring the NFL to Japan.
Regarding the game, Jim Hart’s 60 yard touchdown pass to Ike Harris helped give the Cardinals a 20-10 victory. It was the Cards second victory of the preseason.
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: 70-61
70. Ahmad Rashad (WR)
The Big Red drafted Oregon star Bobby Moore with their top pick in the 1972 draft (4th overall). Moore played only two seasons in St. Louis catching 59 passes for 909 yards and 6 TDs. He was named to the NFL All-Rookie Team in ’72 and set an league record for the longest non-scoring pass reception with a 98 yarder against the Rams. Moore changed his name to Ahmad Rashad in 1973 after adopting the Orthodox Muslim Religion. The name change didn’t go over well with some fans and even coaches. Rashad was traded to the Buffalo Bills in 1974 for backup QB Dennis Shaw. He later went on to star for the Minnesota Vikings.