The Early Years

The Soaring '20s

Hard Times

Glory Days

The End of an Era


THE MORGAN ATHLETIC CLUB (circa 1900): The team we know today as the Arizona Cardinals was first organized by painting and decorating contractor Chris O'Brien on Chicago's south side. Originally, the team played under the name of Morgan Athletic Club, as seen here, wearing large "M"s on the front of their jerseys. A few years later, as the "Racine Normals," O'Brien found a bargain on used jerseys from the University of Chicago, whose team was known as the "Maroons" for the color of their uniforms. He described the faded color as "cardinal red" and the name stuck. Although none of those featured in this photograph are identified, owner Chris O'Brien and his brother Pat (both of whom also played on the squad) are likely among those pictured. Chris may be the man in the back row, second from the left.

THE 1921 CHICAGO CARDINALS: In 1921, the Chicago (Racine) Cardinals played the mighty Chicago Staleys (later the Bears) to a scoreless tie. Although the Staleys would become NFL champs at 10-1-1, the Cards proudly proclaimed themselves "Chicago Champions, 1921" as written on the football in the center of this photograph. Ralph Horween, in the back row, second from the right, became the first ex-player to reach his 100th birthday in 1996. He died on May 26, 1997, and was likely the last surviving player in the photo. Back Row (from left to right): Chris O'Brien, Owner; Unidentified; Fred Gillies, T; Arnold Horween, BB; Arnie McInerney, T; Bob Koehler, FB; Ralph Horween, FB-WB; Unidentified; Middle Row: Dick Egan, E; Unidentified; John "Paddy" Driscoll, TB-Coach; Unidentified; Unidentified; Front Row: Unidentified; Lenny Sachs, E. The other regulars on the squad included: Dan "Red" O'Connor, E; Clyde Zoia, G; Willis Brennan, G; Frank Rydzewski, C-T; Bernie Halstrom, BB-WB; Pete Steger, WB-BB.

JOHN "PADDY" DRISCOLL: In the early 1920s, the Cardinals' biggest star, and one of the NFL's brightest, was John "Paddy" Driscoll, superstar runner, blocker, punter, passer, and dropkicker. Signed in 1920 to the then outrageous amount of $3,000 per year, Driscoll did just about everything with the Cards, even serving as player-coach from 1921 to 1922. In a 1925 contest against the Bears, he wisely punted away from rookie "Red" Grange, despite the boos from the crowd who wanted to see Grange break one all the way. The Cards held their cross-town rivals to a 0-0 draw, good enough to earn them the 1925 NFL Championship at season's end. Driscoll was inducted to the NFL Hall of Fame in 1965. He died on June 29, 1968.

1920s GAME PROGRAM: At the right is shown a Chicago Cardinals game program from the 1920s; the fine print along the top says: "Next Sunday - Cardinals vs. Dayton." However, the opponent of the game at hand is not specified on the cover, leading to some uncertainty to the program's exact date. From the clues present, the program dates from one of the following four possibilities: October 21, 1923 vs. Minneapolis, November 2, 1924 vs. Milwaukee, November 15, 1925 vs. Buffalo, or November 17, 1929 vs. Green Bay. Note the price of only ten cents at the bottom right corner of the program.

1920s GAME-ACTION PHOTO: This excellent photograph captures a play from scrimmage from the early days of the NFL. The original caption identifies the ball carrier as "Red" Grange of the Chicago Bears, but the uniforms bear a striking resemblance to those of the Chicago Cardinals of the early to mid-1920s, complete with the coupled "C"s on the sleeves. Note that of the teams shown here, only the Cardinals wear jerseys numbered on the back. Interest in this particular game appears to be quite high, as evidenced by the packed grandstands and the spectators standing behind the windows and atop the roofs in the houses across the street.

1996-2021, by "The Cardinal"
(This page is not affiliated with the NFL or the Arizona Cardinals)