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Gallery

1898-1924:
The Early Years

1925-1929:
The Soaring '20s

1930-1946:
Hard Times

1947-1948:
Glory Days

1949-1960:
The End of an Era

GLORY DAYS

THE DREAM BACKFIELD: On January 16, 1947, Charles Bidwill signed All-America running back Charlie Trippi from Georgia to the biggest contract the NFL had yet seen ($100,000 over four years). Thus, Trippi (#62) joined quarterback Paul Christman (#44) and backs Marshall Goldberg (#99) and Pat Harder (#34) in what Bidwill dubbed his "million-dollar backfield." Elmer Angsman would later replace an injured Goldberg, who then returned to playing his primary position of defensive back full-time. Unfortunately, Bidwill would never get to see this product play
on the field; he died April 19 later that year. After his death, all football decisions were left to business partner Ray Bennigsen, but ultimately, control of the team would pass on to his two adopted sons, William (left) and Charles, Jr. (right), shown on the practice field with coach Conzelman (center), circa 1947. Today, the team is still owned by William Bidwill.

THE 1947 CHICAGO CARDINALS: With the "Dream Backfield" in place, a powerful line strengthened by Stan Mauldin and Buster Ramsey, and offensive genius Jimmy Conzelman back as head coach, the Cardinals were once again contenders for the NFL crown. As champions of the Western Division, the Cards earned the right to battle the Philadelphia Eagles, survivors of a playoff against Pittsburgh, in the NFL Championship Game on December 28, 1947. Wearing tennis shoes to aid in gripping the semi-frozen Comiskey turf, the Cardinals scored on four long runs. Trippi scored first on a 44-yard dash, then later on a 75-yard punt return. Elmer Angsman, meanwhile, tore down the field twice, for two 70-yard touchdown runs. The Eagles, for their part, kept the game close throughout, but on that day, the Cardinals were too strong, winning 28-21. Members of this team, the 1947 NFL Champions, were: 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. Fifty years later, on August 15, 1997, the twenty-two surviving members of the team were honored in Chicago, where Charles "Stormy" Bidwill, Jr., son of the late Charles Bidwill and brother of current owner Bill, presented them with championship rings.

STAN MAULDIN: The 1948 season began with a rematch of the previous year's championship game. The Cardinals, fresh off a 28-0 victory over the College All-Stars in front of 101,220 fans, downed the Eagles once again on September 24. However, the scene in the Chicago locker room was not one of jubilation as one would have expected after the 21-14 victory. Star tackle Stan Mauldin collapsed in the dressing room. The fans and players who gathered outside would hear the news that the third year player out of Texas had died, of an apparent brain hemorrhage. His #77 would later be retired by the team, one of only five numbers retired by the Cardinals. The others: Larry Wilson's #8, Pat Tillman's #40, J.V. Cain's #88, and Marshall Goldberg's #99.

THE "BLIZZARD BOWL," 1948: A 28-17 setback against the Bears in the second week would be the Cardinals' only loss of the 1948 regular season. After that, the team won ten straight contests, including a crucial 24-21 decision in the final week against the same Bears. The victory earned the team the right to defend its 1947 title in the championship game against the Eagles. The Big-Red's offense, finally showing the capability to destroy and humiliate opponents, put up big points during the season: 42 against Green Bay, 49 against Boston, 56 against Detroit, and a stunning 63 against New York. However, on the day of the title game, a blizzard swept through the northeast, blanketing Philadelphia and the entire gridiron of Shibe Park with four inches of snow. The eerie photo above shows the conditions in which the game was played; the Cardinals are wearing the dark jerseys. Not surprisingly, both teams failed
to mount much of an attack, although it seemed that the Eagles held the advantage. Finally, in the closing minute of the third quarter, Chicago fumbled deep in its own territory. Philadelphia recovered the ball on the 17-yard line. Four plays later, Eagle halfback Steve Van Buren scored on a five-yard run, shown to the right. The score was enough for Philadelphia, which went on to win its first NFL championship in team history, by the count of 7-0. The Chicago Cardinals, a team that posted the seventh-best offensive output in NFL history, failed to score a single point.

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