The St. Louis Cardinals NFL Team: A Legacy of Success and Heartbreak
The St. Louis Cardinals were a professional American football team that competed in the National Football League (NFL) from 1960 to 1987. While the team had a relatively short tenure in the league, their legacy lives on through their memorable moments, legendary players, and heartbreaks that have left a lasting impact on the sport.
Origins of the St. Louis Cardinals
The St. Louis Cardinals franchise was established in 1898 as a member of the National League (NL) in Major League Baseball (MLB). The team was originally based in Chicago and was known as the Chicago Cardinals until 1960 when they moved to St. Louis and became the St. Louis Cardinals. In their early years, the Cardinals experienced moderate success, winning two NFL championships in 1925 and 1947.
Success in the 1960s and 1970s
The Cardinals experienced a resurgence in the 1960s and 1970s under head coach Charley Winner. The team's success was fueled by a strong defense, led by Hall of Famers Larry Wilson and Roger Wehrli. In 1963, the team posted a record of 9-5, their first winning season since 1957. The following year, they won their first division title, but lost in the NFL Championship game to the Cleveland Browns.
The Cardinals continued to be a strong team in the following years, making the playoffs in 1974 and 1975, and earning a wild card berth in 1976. Their success during this era was also due to the talent of quarterback Jim Hart, running back Terry Metcalf, and wide receiver Mel Gray.
Heartbreak in the 1980s
The 1980s saw the Cardinals suffer heartbreak after heartbreak. The team made the playoffs in 1982, but lost in the first round to the Green Bay Packers. The following year, they had a 10-6 record but missed the playoffs due to tiebreakers. In 1984, the Cardinals had their best regular season record in franchise history with a 9-7 record but again missed the playoffs due to tiebreakers.
In 1987, the Cardinals moved to Phoenix, Arizona, and became the Phoenix Cardinals. The move was met with mixed emotions from fans and players alike. The team struggled in their new location, failing to make the playoffs in their first five seasons.
The Legacy of the St. Louis Cardinals
Despite their heartbreaks and short tenure in St. Louis, the Cardinals left a lasting legacy on the NFL. Many of the team's former players have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, including Larry Wilson, Roger Wehrli, and Jackie Smith. The Cardinals' distinctive red helmets with a yellow stripe have also become an iconic symbol of the franchise.
The Cardinals' legacy also lives on through their impact on the sport of football. The team's defense was innovative for its time, using a combination of zone and man-to-man coverages. The team's success in the 1960s and 1970s also helped to popularize the NFL in the St. Louis area and paved the way for the St. Louis Rams' arrival in 1995.
The St. Louis Cardinals may no longer exist as an NFL franchise, but their legacy lives on through their memorable moments, legendary players, and heartbreaks that have left a lasting impact on the sport. The team's success in the 1960s and 1970s, and their innovative defensive strategies, helped to pave the way for the modern NFL. While their time in St. Louis may have been short-lived, the Cardinals will always be