Arizona Cardinals’ Biggest Scapegoat in Team History: President Michael Bidwill

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COMMENTARY | The Bidwill family has owned the Arizona Cardinals since the days the team resided in Chicago. Charles W. Bidwill, Sr. bought the team for $50,000 in 1932 from then-owner, Dr. David Jones, a physician in Chicago.

Now owned by Charles' son, William, the team has been bludgeoned and beaten on the field--save for a few good seasons--and mocked off it. Bill was once the man people laughed at for the way he ran the franchise, frequently pawning off its best players for cheaper, less talented ones.

Bill's son, Michael, the team's president, now bears the brunt of the mockery, slander and libel.

Any time something goes wrong, all we read from unknowing fans is, "Michael Bidwell must go!" (Note the spelling. Bidwill is spelled with an "I," not an "E.")

Fans are still under the assumption that the franchise is cheap and does not pay its players. That could not be further from the truth. As of the morning of May 27, the Cardinals have the 19th-most cap space in the NFL, at $8,130,193.75 (per NFLPlayers.com's public report). While Bidwill certainly has not broken the bank on any one player, he has been smart about where the money goes--he gets a pass for gambling on injury-prone disaster Kevin Kolb.

Four cornerstone players currently with the team have been given large contract extensions in the last three years, totaling 25 years and $256 million--all under Michael's direction and leadership. It seems to me if he were cheap, he wouldn't spend a quarter of a billion dollars on four players.

Try telling Larry Fitzgerald, Darnell Dockett, Calais Campbell and Daryl Washington that Michael is cheap.

Some are still not sold on Bidwill and his vision for the team. In December of 2012, following a 58-0 drubbing at the hands of the division-rival Seattle Seahawks, Dan Bickley of AZCentral.com wrote a piece on the struggles of the team and where blame should be placed.

Bickley's piece is not the focus, however, as the article does not suggest anything malicious toward the team president. The comments section does provide a good look into how some fans feel. Here is an excerpt from one such comment:

"Once again, this is a crappy franchise run by a crappy family. […] A real franchise with these type(s) of personnel problems would have already hired a real GM."

Frustrated fans with a monitor and a keyboard often are out of their element by writing things like that. They don't understand the business of the NFL, and if they did they would not say much of what we all have heard--and said, in some cases. Even I don't understand all of what goes into running an NFL franchise, but I know enough not to place blame on one person.

As deep as the team was into a season ruined by injuries, firing any coaches or front-office personnel would have been useless. There was no chance at saving the season.

The fact is that Bidwill has done more for the franchise in the last decade than his father and grandfather did in the 70 years prior--no personal offense to Charles or Bill intended.

Michael has done a brilliant job for the franchise, and saying otherwise is unwarranted.

That shiny new stadium we fans love to pack to the gills every Sunday? That is the fruit of Michael's hard work. When you attend the NFL Experience at the stadium the week before Super Bowl XLIX in January of 2015? You can also thank Michael for that.

And when head coach Bruce Arians and quarterback Carson Palmer lead this team to the playoffs, you can thank Michael for that as well.

Shaun Church has covered the Arizona Cardinals for more than three years on various online publications and considers himself a life-long fan. His work has been featured on Bleacher Report, Football Nation, The Boston Metro, ESPN.com and more.

Questions or comments? E-mail Shaun at smchurch@yahoo.com

You can also follow and mention Shaun on Twitter @Church_NFL

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