The Curse

Here's why the Cardinals have sucked forever, and why they might never suck again

To make this happen, it could be argued they only need to pay $20 million to $30 million more in players' salaries, coaches' salaries and other expenditures to elevate the team to a perennial contender.

The numbers are nebulous, of course, and always changing. The point: The Bidwills are now in the position of most of America's other 1 percenters — they must now spend big money to make outrageous money.

It appears they are already moving in the direction of big spending, and big-time players.

Fred Harper
Pottsville, Pennsylvania, population 16,000, home of the 1925 team that inspired talk of the curse.
Pottsville, Pennsylvania, population 16,000, home of the 1925 team that inspired talk of the curse.

The offensive lineup of Edgerrin James, Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Matt Leinart is arguably the most exciting and talented young group in the league, rivaled, in Cardinals history, only by the 1947 "Million Dollar Backfield."

Now, of course, they need a better offensive line to protect Leinart and block for James.

It would seem that under Michael Bidwill, the Cardinals are positioned to do a better job negotiating contracts to get players in front of their coaches for preseason camp.

Of course, they didn't get Matt Leinart into camp on time.

They got rid of Dennis Green, whose manage-from-on-high style was a bad fit for a young team.

Of course, now, in the early stages of looking, they seem unwilling to court the league's most proven winners.

They have plenty of salary cap room to shore up weaknesses.

Of course, that can be said of any team that is cheap.

"But just spending money isn't the issue," Tobin says. "It's picking the right players. And now they have some room to maneuver. I think they're in a great position to fill those obvious gaps for next year."

Tobin believes the Bidwills are now willing to do that.

"They have the money, they have the space, and Michael Bidwill [who runs day-to-day operations now] seems much more driven to win and work in the realities of the modern market."

Tobin does not believe there is a curse. He has seen the reality of the bad equation too closely to believe in ghosts. Change the equation, he says, and the winning will follow.

Goddard and others interviewed (who didn't want their names used) also scoff at the notion of a curse. They, too, point to human error as the main culprit. They, too, believe that Arizona's taxpayers may have created a new era simply with their generosity.

But this season's 5-11 record would suggest that something still is hanging over the team.

More compelling is that the season's nadir, one of the most agonizing and ridiculous losses in the history of the team, came on Monday Night Football to none other than the Chicago Bears.

After leading the Bears 20-0 at the half, the Cardinals collapsed amid several freak plays to lose 24-23. For the Bears, it was the first time in team history that they came back from a 20-point deficit.

"Sometimes, when you're a team of destiny, things like that happen," Chicago coach Lovie Smith said immediately after the game.

He was speaking of the Bears.

He could have been speaking of the Cardinals.

Because, after years of Cardinals owners blocking Pottsville's attempts to acquire at least a share of the 1925 championship, which NFL team do you think the people of Pottsville began cheering for?

Well, the Chicago Cardinals' longtime nemesis, Da Bears.

It would appear to many that the Pottsville Curse can pierce even the steel armor of the Valley's half-billion-dollar offering to the football gods.

There could be only one solution.

After hiring a winner of a coach, the Bidwills must give back that which was not won on the field.

They must let go of their ignominious past. They must, as every good coach says, make the first priority winning.

Not hold on to past wins that weren't wins.

They must hedge their bets and give the 1925 title back to Pottsville.

And then, it wouldn't hurt to hire a hell of a head coach. Somebody like, say, the University of Southern California's Pete Carroll, Matt Leinart's college coach. Ne'er-do-wells like ex-Packers coach Mike Sherman, touted as a possibility, could keep that curse alive.

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William Cress
William Cress

I am the great-nephew of Charles Francis Berry, the Pottstown Maroon's kicker who kicked the winning field goal.He taught me how to throw a baseball and foot ball. I played a little high school football in Latrobe my senior year, though the other quarterback in town wearing number 12, Terry Bradshaw is somewhat better known...

I still greatly enjoy the Pottstown curse on Phoenix, especially as I live in Pittsburgh and my brother in law lives in Phoenix. Also, my boss went to Notre Dame.

And I'm sure the black cat we saw sitting on great-grandmother Berry's grave when we visited is purely cooincidence.

 

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