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I: Sept. 17, 1920
II: Nov. 7, 1920
III: Nov. 28, 1920
IV: Oct. 7, 1923
V: Nov. 26, 1925
VI: Dec. 6, 1925
VII: Nov. 6, 1929
VIII: Nov. 28, 1929
IX: Oct. 24, 1933
X: Nov. 28, 1935
XI: Oct. 14, 1945
XII: Apr. 19, 1947
XIII: Dec. 28, 1947
XIV: Dec. 19, 1948
XV: Mar. 23, 1959
XVI: Mar. 13, 1960
XVII: Dec. 6, 1964
XVIII: Nov. 7, 1965
XIX: Nov. 16, 1970
XX: Dec. 27, 1975
XXI: Jan. 8, 1983
XXII: Dec. 16, 1984
XXIII: Nov. 8, 1987
XXIV: Mar. 15, 1988
XXV: Dec. 23, 1990
XXVI: Dec. 24, 1994

December 28, 1947: Championship Glory!

- - - - - The Cardinals have been known throughout NFL history as one of the league's weakest clubs. Decade after decade, they continually stumbled through losing seasons and pathetic mismanagement. Yet, there was one year during which this franchise had the rest of the NFL at its mercy: 1947.
- - - - - The team had managed a respectable 6-5 record in 1946, and was showing vast improvement in many departments. Fullback Pat Harder shone in his rookie season, while Elmer Angsman showed much promise. Also, the Cards had finally landed a quarterback, Paul Christman. Meanwhile, the line was strengthened by Stan Mauldin and Buster Ramsey. Head coach Jimmy Conzelman, who had returned for his second term with the Cardinals, specialized in offense, and the combination of his genius and the team's talent led them to be dubbed the "Dream Backfield." The defense may not have received as much attention, but featured NFL-great Marshall Goldberg (who also was known for his ability on offense).
- - - - - The team received an additional boost with the signing of Georgia All-America Charlie Trippi. The halfback received an unprecedented $100,000 over four seasons upon his January 16 signing. This led owner Charles Bidwill to bestow another nickname upon his offense: "My Million-Dollar Backfield." Yet, a few months later, Bidwill would be dead, and never get to see this championship-caliber squad take the field. All football decisions were made by his business partner, Ray Bennigsen, who had been with the team since Bidwill's purchase in the early 1930s.
- - - - - The Chicago Cardinals opened the season with a 45-21 beating of the Lions, then followed it up with an even more impressive 31-7 destruction of the rival Bears. Then following a 14-10 victory at Green Bay, the Cards traveled across the continent to visit the Los Angeles Rams. Here, tragedy would strike the team once again. It was not the 27-7 loss -- rather, it was the death of rookie Jeff Burkett. After the game, Burkett had to stay in L.A. for an emergency operation, but died on a plane crash on the way back to Chicago several days later.
- - - - - The Cards regrouped and went on to win four straight games. However, shades of the old Big-Red reappeared, as the team (and its title hopes) took a down-turn. The Redskins shellacked the Cardinals, 45-21, while the Giants won a 35-31 contest a week later. So, with two games remaining, the Cards stood at 7-3, one game behind the 8-2 Bears. Although the situation looked bleak, the Redbirds got back on track with a 45-21 beating of a strong Eagles team, and got some help from the Rams, who edged the Bears.
- - - - - Both Chicago teams were now tied atop the Western Division, with their rematch ready to get underway. The Bears had the home-field advantage, but the Cardinals took the crowd out of the game immediately, scoring on the first play from scrimmage on an 80-yard TD pass from Christman to Babe Dimancheff. The play worked to perfection, just as assistants Phil Handler and Buddy Parker had envisioned. However, there was some cause for concern, since Dimancheff's wife had been giving birth that week, and the team never got a chance to practice the play. Anyway, the Bears had to spend the rest of the day trying to come back from behind, and eventually fell to their cross-town foes, 30-21, marking the first time the Cardinals swept the series since 1922!
- - - - - In the Eastern Division, things were not so simple: the Eagles and Steelers finished the season with the same record, forcing a Pennsylvania play-off the following Sunday. The Eagles would win the game, 21-0, earning the right to meet the Cardinals in Comiskey Park on December 28 to decide the NFL Champion. The Cardinals were listed as a 12-point favorite, but many expected a much closer battle.
- - - - - Shivering winds reduced the crowd to just over 30,000 spectators, but those who came saw some incredible runs. The Cardinals got out to a quick start, scoring on Trippi's 44-yard dash in the first quarter. Fifteen minutes later, Elmer Angsman tore down the field for a 70-yard score, giving the Big-Red a 14-0 lead. But the Eagles fought back, first by putting on tennis shoes (like those the Cards were already wearing) to aid with the gripping of the semi-frozen turf, then by connecting on a 53-yard TD pass.
- - - - - The Cardinals led 14-7 at the half, and added to their lead midway through the third quarter. Charlie Trippi's spectacular 75-yard punt return was responsible for the score. The Eagles quickly responded, driving the length of the field and scoring on a one-yard plunge, narrowing the lead to only seven points. Philadelphia then appeared ready to tie the game in the fourth period, but a long completion to the Cards' 23 yard-line was called back on a holding penalty. The Cards got back the ball, and Angsman once again sped down the gridiron to his second touchdown of 70 yards. With a 28-14 lead, it appeared that the Cardinals were safely on their way to victory, but Philly got possession on the 1 yard-line after an endzone interference call. They would score a few plays later. However, with only about four and a half minutes to play, the Eagles desperately needed the ball back. But, the Cards would hold onto the ball, never giving Philadelphia another chance.
- - - - - When the game finally ended, the Cards' 28-21 victory earned them their first NFL title since the disputed 1925 season. Also, with so much young talent on the team, Chicago appeared to be on the verge of starting their own dynasty. However, this post-season victory would turn out to be their only one for 51 years, and in the more than half-century since this triumph, the Cardinals have not hosted another post-season battle. At least fans of the Big-Red can claim that their team is one of only five who are perfect at home in the playoffs (Green Bay, Seattle, Carolina, and Jacksonville are the others).
- - - - - Below, the members of the 1947 Championship team are listed. Fifty years after their thriumph, on August 15, 1997, Charles Bidwill, Jr., son of the late owner, and brother of current owner Bill, honored the twenty-two surviving members of the team by presenting them with their NFL Championship rings. The event coincided with an exhibition game between the Arizona Cardinals and Chicago Bears.


OWNER: Violet Bidwill; GENERAL MANAGER: Ray Bennigsen; HEAD COACH: Jimmy Conzelman; PLAYERS: Plato Andros - G, Elmer Angsman - B, Ray Apolskis - T, Lloyd Arms - G, Vince Banonis - C, Bill Blackburn - C, Chet Bulger - T, Jeff Burkett - E, Bill Campbell - G, Paul Christman - QB, John Cochran - B, Jake Colhouer - G, Joe Coomer - T, Bill DeCorrevant - B, Bill Dewell - E, Babe Dimancheff - B, John Doolan - B, Clarence Esser - E, Marshall Goldberg - B, Pat Harder - B, Frank Ivy - E, John Karwales - E, Mal Kutner - E, Ray Mallouf - B, Caleb Martin - T, Stan Mauldin - T, Hamilton Nichols - G, Joe Parker - E, Dick Plasman - E, Buster Ramsey - G, Walt Rankin - B, Vic Schwall - B, Charles Smith - B, Walt Szot - T, Charlie Trippi - B, Bob Zimmy - T.

NEXT : December 19, 1948 - The Cardinals and Eagles meet once again for the NFL title, this time in Philadelphia. However, a powerful blizzard sweeps through the northeast, destroying all chances for an accurate test of the teams' abilities.

1996-2001, by "The Cardinal"
(This page is not affiliated with the NFL or the Arizona Cardinals)