Because of the fact that we are in the brief lull in the NFL offseason between OTA’s and the start of training camp, I thought it would be an appropriate time to break down the best players in Cardinals franchise history. As a disclaimer this list includes players throughout the club’s 116 year history and 94 years as a member of the National Football League, not just the 26 years the franchise has been Arizona after previously being in St. Louis and Chicago.
I’ve thought long and hard about this list and considered such factors as longevity with the team, production, lasting effect on the franchise, number of Pro Bowl and First-Team All-pro appearances and how elite they were viewed to be at their peak as a Cardinal. But enough of the birdseed let’s start the countdown…
25. Rob Moore
Moore had more than 5,000 receiving yards and 300 receptions and 27 touchdowns in five seasons with the team, including a Pro Bowl year in 1997, where Moore had 1,584 yards receiving, 97 receptions, and eight touchdowns. He also happened to actually be the Cardinals star receiver who wore number 85 during the time when the highly popular and quotable Jerry Maguire starring Tom Cruise and Cuba Gooding Jr. came out in theaters. The movie depicted Gooding Jr. as Rod Tidwell, a star receiver on the Arizona Cardinals who wore number 85 and was represented by his agent Tom Cruise.
Including this gem…
24. Pat Tillman
Pat Tillman was drafted in the 7th round of the 1998 NFL Draft by the Cardinals after being a fan favorite and Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year at ASU. He would come in and earn a starting spot at safety for the Cardinals and played from 1998 to 2001 and have 238 tackles 3 INT’s and 2.5 sacks in that time. He turned down a three-year, $3.6 million offer from the Cardinals in 2002 to join the Army. Tragically he would lose his life on the battlefield on April 22, 2004. He will always be a hero in the local community be remembered for his passion, toughness, leadership and patriotism on and off the field.
23. Jake Plummer
Plummer started six seasons for the Cardinals from 1997 to 2002 after being a star and fan favorite at ASU. Although “Jake the Snake” numbers as a Cardinals weren’t anything special as he had a 32-50 record as a starter with 90 TD’s and 114 INT’s, he was beloved in the desert for his toughness and he did lead the Cardinals to their first playoff appearance in Arizona in 1998. His was the first jersey my parents bought me growing up and I still have a box of Jake’s Flakes…
22. Mel Gray
Gray played 12 seasons as a St. Louis Cardinal and was a 4x Pro Bowl player and 1x First-Team All-Pro with 6,664 yards and 45 TD’s in his career.
21. Simeon Rice
Rice finished with an impressive 122 sacks in 13 NFL seasons, including 69.5 sacks in six years in Arizona. He was a 1st Team All-Pro for the Cardinals in 1999 with 16.5 sacks, which is a single-season record for the Cardinals.