Cardinals Owner Bill Bidwill Remembered As NFL Lifer
Cardinals Owner BILL BIDWILL, who "spent more than eight decades working in the NFL," died yesterday at the age of 88, according to a front-page piece by Kent Somers of the ARIZONA REPUBLIC. While Bidwill's NFL career was "long, it was not glorious when measured by his team's wins and losses." The Cardinals' "lack of success made him an icon of bad ownership," and at times, Bidwill was "accused of being cheap, greedy and disinterested in winning." Bidwill's "reputation for being a frugal owner was earned," but while he was "tight with the Cardinals' dollars, he was generous outside of football." He contributed to "many causes" in the Phoenix area, "usually quietly and anonymously." Bidwill also had a "unique fashion style that never conformed to what was in style," often sporting a bowtie (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 10/3).
A FOOTBALL LIFE: ESPN.com's Josh Weinfuss noted Bidwill "started as a ball boy as a child" when his father, CHARLES, owned the team. He then "went to work" for the Cardinals full-time in '60 -- the team's first season in St. Louis -- after serving in the Navy. Bidwill "became owner" in '72, and the team "moved to Arizona" in '88. Bidwill "gave up day-to-day operations" to his son, MICHAEL BIDWILL, when Michael was named team President in '07 (ESPN.com, 10/2). Former Cardinals CB AENEAS WILLIAMS said the franchise is in "safe hands" with Michael Bidwill ("Good Morning Football," NFL Network, 10/3). In N.Y., Ken Belson notes Bidwill was part of a "fading generation of owners whose main business was football." He "preferred to stay in the background," avoiding large social gatherings and, "unlike other owners, only occasionally attended the Super Bowl." Though Bidwill "never held the Lombardi Trophy in a Super Bowl triumph, he did break ground by hiring minority employees" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/3). NFL Network's Will Selva noted Bidwill hired the "first African-American female executive in NFL history, the league's first African-American contract negotiator and the first African-American head coach and GM tandem" ("Good Morning Football," 10/3).
HIS OWN MAN: NFL.com's Judy Battista noted Bidwill "spent his entire life enmeshed with the Cardinals," though he "remained unassuming." He was "mostly reclusive," but was "privately very generous" (NFL.com, 10/2). The REPUBLIC's Somers writes Bidwill was a "private man in a public business and rarely revealed what he thought, or how he felt." In public, he "seemed awkward and shy," but if he "knew you, Bidwill would let you see the other side of his personality, the one that liked corny jokes, and bawdy ones" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 10/3).
TWITTER TRIBUTES: Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald: "The NFL family lost a pioneer today. Bill Bidwill loved the Arizona Cardinals and the great State of Arizona. He paved the way for so many by being on the forefront of giving minorities the opportunity to thrive as coaches and executives in the NFL. He was also a man of quiet generosity giving of his time and resources to make lives better. ... Rest in peace, Mr. B." Colts Owner Jim Irsay: "Rest in peace, Bill Bidwill, legendary owner of the Cardinals. Bill was involved with our league since 1932, and was a leader on the initiative of minority front office hiring." Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey: "Bidwill never forgot he was part of our community, bringing the @AZCardinals here three decades ago. His impact lives on." U.S. Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.): "From bringing the @AZCardinals to Arizona, shepherding the first Super Bowl to our state, and his charitable legacy, Bill did so much for AZ."