Why Your Team Sucks 2016: Arizona Cardinals

Illustration for article titled Why Your Team Sucks 2016: Arizona Cardinals

Some people are fans of the Arizona Cardinals. But many, many more people are NOT fans of the Arizona Cardinals. This 2016 Deadspin NFL team preview is for those in the latter group. Read all the previews so far here. And buy Drew’s new book here.


Your team: Arizona Cardinals.

Sure, I guess? Usually, you Photoshop that image into other things. You’ll get the hang of it one day, kids!

Your 2015 record: 13-3. Of course, another team in the NFC still ended up with a better record anyway. Because when you are the Arizona Cardinals, second-best is the very best you will ever do.

By the way, I know you ended up winning that Packers game, but that’s only because Mike McCarthy is an idiot. When you have one of the better secondaries in football—with or without the Honey Badger—and you let Jeff Janis get behind you TWICE in the last 55 seconds, you deserve to lose. Karma will find you and break your back.

Your coach: Honorary Parrothead Bruce Arians, last seen blaming your mom for the War on Football.

“It’s the best game that’s ever been fucking€” invented, and we got to make sure that moms get the message; because that’s who’s afraid of our game right now. It’s not dads, it’s moms.”


See man, this always happens. Even when you stumble across a supposedly cool football coach, they’re actually not that cool. Arians, the Ryan boys, Dabo: They’re all manic nutcases, just like the other stiffs. A stupid bucket hat can’t hide the ugly truth. I know his kind. Bruce Arians will put on some cool tunes and crack jokes, and then throw a wedge of meatloaf at you when you fuck up a blocking assignment.

Your quarterback: Jake Delhomme. No wait! It’s Carson Palmer. Yes, definitely Carson Palmer. I got confused there for just a second. Let’s watch him fall down.


That was great. When we last left Carson Palmer, he was busy committing six turnovers in the NFC title game and destroying whatever confidence you may have had left in him. Fans can blame it on a lingering finger injury all they like. You and I know that, come January, Palmer is gonna fuck up all over again. He’s damaged goods. I’d rather watch Blair Walsh attempt another clutch kick. At least it’s over with quickly. The rest of Palmer’s career will play out like a director’s cut of the ending to Old Yeller. He’s gonna throw 30 picks this season and then go crack rocks in Cleveland until he dies of starvation and neglect. It’s gonna be great, because he’s butt rock in human form.


Calm down there, Choke Boy. It’ll all be over soon. Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald have the combined age of your average Arpaio-voting retiree.


What’s new that sucks: You traded for Chandler Jones! By going from New England to Arizona, Jones actually gets to trace the path of rural America’s drug supply from its destination to its origin. What crazy drugs will Chandler and his brother Jon send to each other via human mule? ONE CAN ONLY SPECULATE.

Speaking of cannabinoids, you drafted Robert Nkemdiche! Yes, the guy who reportedly smoked spice and then definitely fell out of a goddamn hotel window is here now. I can tell Nkemdiche will be a fearsome defensive player because he hallucinates an invisible wolf chasing him around at all times! That really helps your motor.


Also, Evan Mathis is here from Denver. Evan Mathis is both a talented player and a complete nutjob. I feel like, when your team resides in Arizona—land of guns and meth—you should be VERY selective about hiring players who are fragile-minded. And yet here are the Cardinals, blindly rounding up every potential player who could fall prey to the netherworld that is the American Southwest and all its vices. Bad things happen here. Ask Max Hall.

What has always sucked: Let’s talk more about the state of Arizona, because this is where Donald Trump goes whenever he needs to recharge his racism batteries. It’s where he jumps into a cold shower after being forced by his staff to be nice to brown people. OH MY GOD GET IT OFF! GET THE KINDNESS OFF OF ME! The Cardinals were like, St. Louis is pretty racist, but where could we move that’s MORE racist?


Human beings were never meant to live in Arizona. Grass was never meant to be a sign of affluence. The only reason Arizona is part of America is because James K. Polk wanted an uninterrupted path to California, not realizing that said path went through the Land of the Undead.


Nothing grows here, particularly not tolerance. Arizona is what happens when you ask yourself, “Wouldn’t it be great if Las Vegas didn’t have any gambling or self-awareness, but was possibly the most racist place in the country? What if we got rid of the casinos and added chain gangs?” I think it might look something like this:

Yep. Arizona is a strong contender for shittiest state purely in terms of residents. Its politics are the result of someone teaching nursing home residents how to use 4chan. They don’t deserve a football team. They don’t deserve anything, really. I say we cut off the water supply and let the entire state petrify.


Also, fuck Leitch.

What might not suck: This team has an embarrassment of riches at the skill positions. I don’t know how that happened. Someone in the scouting department must have finally purchased a stopwatch.


Let’s remember some Cardinals:

  • Luis Sharpe
  • Joel Makovicka
  • Randal Hill
  • Adrian Murrell
  • Freddie Joe Nunn

Hear it from Cardinals fans!


I have loved the St. Louis/Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals for more than 30 years, and I will ingest every piece of information available about them, no matter its format. It’s pathetic how far I’ll go. For 45 minutes every week, I listen to a stupid radio show called “The Big Red Rage”, which is basically Calais Campbell and three thick-necked dudes in golf shirts and grey goatees screaming “FINISH THE DRILLLL!!!!” at waitresses at a Chandler, Arizona strip mall sports bar while a dozen bored unemployed meatheads sit silently by passing Trump memes back and forth to each other on their Blackberry Storms before holstering them back on their belt loop and wondering why their daughter hasn’t called them back …. and I never miss this show. I will go to great lengths for even the teeniest morsel of Arizona Cardinals content.

So, believe me when I say … didn’t All or Nothing kind of suck ?

I reviewed this for Decider, but the only thing worse than that show was how obnoxiously proud of it the Arizona Cardinals themselves were. Every player showed up to the premiere. A team employee wrote recaps of every episode on their website . There wasn’t a single person involved in that organization not pushed to promote that thing from every pore and orifice. The Cardinals were featured on this direct-to-Amazon web series that hardly anyone watched and have been walking around like Gloria Swanson every since.

The show had one thing going for it, and that was Bruce Arians. But even Arians, a pretty fun coach to cheer for, was obviously playing for the cameras, saying “fuck” every 10 seconds like one of those bad Tarantino impersonators from the mid-‘90s to show how edgy he is. But I’ll take that over Michael Bidwill showing up every 10 minutes to pretend he is a Serious Football Man, even though he knows as well as everybody watching that Arians and general manager Steve Keim are just waiting for the cameras to leave to Bidwill can get out of the room and they can get back to work. (Also, the scenes of the workaholic Keim’s family at home are unspeakably sad in a way the movie doesn’t seem to realize, from Keim’s so-stressed-her-teeth-are-chattering wife saying things like “it can be a little hard around here” as if she’s in a hostage video to his sons stating, with deadly matter-of-factness, “we get to see him Dad in the offseason, you know, sometimes.”) The series has no insights, no real breakthrough moments; it’s basically a superlong version of those half-hour NFL Yearbook videos that come out every year, “2016 Jacksonville Jaguars: A New Beginning” those sort of things.

But the worst part might be Jon Hamm’s narration. Hey, I love Jon Hamm, you love Jon Hamm, we all love Jon Hamm. He’s Deadspin’s own Jon Hamm! But who ever wrote his narration appears to have cribbed the whole thing from self-motivation notes Roger Goodell wrote down in his dream diary. Hamm, a lifelong Buzzsaw fan who was eager to be a part of the documentary, has to keep saying things like “On the road to a championship, the closer you get, the harder each step becomes” and “A fast start doesn’t tell you everything. But it might tell you all you need to know.” As I mentioned in my Decider review, his narration is so banal that I found myself internally narrating my life with it.

“Stepping out of the shower is full of danger, but with the right dedication and concentration, it shows the mettle of men.”

“Changing a diaper once is a challenge. But the real honor is going out there every day and forcing yourself to be the best, every time.”

“The trick isn’t not spilling the orange juice. The trick is wiping it up … and getting out there to pour again.”

The Arizona Cardinals are going to be a great football team this year, at least until Carson Palmer gets hurt. With any luck, no one will be following them around with cameras this time. Though I bet Bidwill’s got a guy documenting everything he does, you know, just in case.



I’m at the Cards kickoff luncheon right now and they’ve talked about “BA Swagger” in reference to Bruce Arians and his coaching style maybe a dozen times.



I came home upset one day after elementary school after wearing my brand new Cardinals shirt not long after the team had moved to Arizona. My mom asked what was wrong and I told her I was upset because everyone on the school bus home said the Cardinals were a bunch of losers. She immediately responded “Well, they kinda ARE a bunch of losers.”

It gets brought up every time they get curb-stomped in the playoffs, or just having a poor season.



I know in my heart that the Cardinals will lose in the playoffs.

I know in my heart that Carson Palmer is not elite.

I know in my heart that Bruce Arians would not like me as a person.

I almost wish the Cardinals were bad again.


Arizona Cardinals fan here. Screw anyone who puts lifetime in front of that statement. If you wore your starter jacket, Zubaz or snapback through just one season between 1988 and 2007, the lifetime designation is assumed. The Super Bowl berth loaded the bandwagon for a minute, but even those fans realized the eternal dick-punch that is being a fan of this team. We’ve gone from the perpetual 5-11 also ran to the annual trendy Super Bowl pick. Bruce Arians is far and away the best coach in team history. He also looks like a 1950’s pedophile who drives the local ice cream truck.

I’ve already prepared myself for the inevitable playoff loss. I really can’t wait for the 12-4 regular season that precedes Carson Palmer shitting in my bean dip. Obviously the fan base will pin their hopes on Fitz saddling it all on his back one more time. On defense I will get to watch Tyrann Mathieu shred both his ACL’s (again) on a meaningless tackle in Week 15. Putting that much talent on such a weak base is another reason there is no God. It will lead to Patrick Peterson declaring for the 975th time that he is the best corner in the league while being burned by the other team’s 4th receiver, unless he has his leg amputated by midseason due to all the goddamn cookies he gets from teammates. Did you see that asshole on All or Nothing? Corey Redding retired just so he didn’t have to give this leech 25% of all the cookies.



The problem plaguing Carson Palmer all these years has been his tendency to throw terrible interceptions at the most inopportune times. But last season he finally put that aside and was able to put together an MVP caliber year... until the playoffs started. I swear he must have been saving up those terrible picks all year, because his ugly old self showed up in those two games. Against GB it looked like he was trying to give them the game, but the defenders kept dropping the ball. And if it wasn’t for the individual heroics of Larry, I wouldn’t have had the pleasure of seeing Palmer shit down his own throat during the championship game.

The look on his face every time he thows a pick is infuriating, like some spoiled child who’s losing a schoolyard game because his teammates aren’t good enough. This team has an amazing amount of talent and is one of the best in the league, but it sucks watching and waiting for your QB’s leg to fall off or his brain ejaculate a pick-6, and having all your hopes and dreams die.



Being an Arizona Cardinals fan under Bruce Arians is being in a relationship where you’re waiting for other shit shoe to drop at any moment. Look at it this way:

2013: Start off rough with a new coach and quarterback, then go on a run in the 2nd half of the season that makes us 10-6, which is usually good enough for the playoffs. Except this is the year that a wild-card spot required you to have a 12-4 and 11-5 record. All we got was the moral victory of beating Seattle in their own stadium.

2014: The injury bug crashes our party and pisses all over our freshly minted carpet. An 8-1 record is great until Rich Gannon 2.0 (also known as Carson Palmer) tears an ACL/breaks a hip/falls and can’t get up. Drew Stanton has like half of a good game against St. Louis and another half one against Detroit before sucking the life out of the team by not knowing how to score a touchdown. Oh yeah, Bruce Arians also hates running the ball too, so Stanton’s suckage becomes even more apparent because he’s throwing a lot . Our great start at least gets us to a playoff game except we have a flinging penis (a.k.a Ryan Lindley) starting at quarterback and we lose to a pre-SuperCam Panthers. If we had a bad defense that year I swear we go 6-10.

2015: We finally get a legitimate rushing attack (which Arians ignores in the playoffs), Palmer is firing on all cylinders and the injury bug has basically left us. Even when it hits it’s a blessing in disguise (Ellington going from starting running back to David Johnson’s back-up because he can’t stay healthy). Sure our defense is far-too-frequently giving up big plays to shmucks like Josh McCown and Jay Cutler, but what does it matter when you’re scoring 30+ points a game?

Arian’s swagger took us to a 13-3 record, but I could already sense the team unraveling in slow motion before that: Mathieu’s injury, Fingergate starring Carson Palmer, Arians wanting to grind his players into the ground instead of resting them, giving up 4th quarter leads before the offense had to go back out and win the damn game, it was all adding up to a sickening mix.

That’s why I wasn’t surprised to see us implode so spectacularly in the playoffs. The shell-shocked reactions of most Cardinal fans following that NFC Championship game were just wounded arrogance, and Arians only has himself to blame for stoking that. You can’t count on Palmer either, who in pressure moments has more going on in his head than a high school girl, and is just as erratic to boot. I suppose the next step would be us actually going to a Super Bowl, followed by a spectacular loss to a game manager/strong defense team like the Chiefs or Texans where Carson Palmer throws six picks. Christ, we are the ‘02 Raiders this year, aren’t we?



What a fantastic year we had last year, but when you have Carson Palmer and playoff football together it’s an acid splash to the face.

It was almost like Carson was having turnover withdrawal and shaking in his locker in the week leading up the Panthers game. How does a 35-year-old former Heisman winner and number 1 pick give the ball up 6 times? What other Quarterback with those accolades would even come close to that in the biggest game in their life? The season will only go two ways. Either the Rams will get Carson hurt again, or we will stick around long enough to see Carson Palmer implode for six more turnovers.

I loved how the Amazon show set out to make the Bidwells like competent football people. Steve Keim has done all the legwork but Michael has trotted himself out on the field like he is Al Davis. To them the Cardinals are some bygone family heirloom that they can’t get rid of. The biggest bullshit of them all was talking about the organization and how great the culture is now. Do you remember sharing a college stadium with a mediocre Pac 10 team? Do you remember Josh McCown, Jeff Blake, and Boomer Esiason? What about the Derek Anderson, John Skelton, Max Hall, Brian Hoyer, Kevin Kolb, Ryan Lindley carousel of fuck? This is probably the last chance we will ever have. You can’t change what you are.



It’s fitting that we live in a desert, because everything about the Cardinals is a mirage.

Last season - a mirage. This is a team that in the regular season got its ass handed to them by a third-string QB at Pittsburgh, continued the annual tradition of being jack-stomped at home by Seattle, and then in the playoffs suffered one of the most embarrassing defeats in the history of conference championship games (I think Cam Newton just ran it in for another touchdown as I typed that).

Carson Palmer’s stats - a mirage. Carson Palmer’s two favorite throws are either right to a defender in the end-zone when a TD would win the game, or right to a defender going the other way for a pick-six. He’s Marty Schottenheimer under center – I can’t wait to see us go 14-2 next season and get trounced in our first game of the postseason when Palmer throws 5 INTs and Bruce Arians goes hoarse blaming everyone else for the loss.

University of Phoenix Stadium - a mirage. The stadium designer must have graduated from the University of Phoenix’s School of Architectural Design because this is the ugliest fucking building in the United States. It’s like someone with ADD couldn’t figure out if he wanted to design a barrel cactus or a spaceship and just settled on the shittiest version of each. Maybe somewhere in the early stages of designing this thing there was a wonderful stadium in the works, then they realized they were gonna drop it in the middle of Glendale, Arizona and figured it could look like a steel zit and still be the most beautiful thing in that shithole town.

The Cardinals’ homefield advantage - a mirage. Everyone talks about how loud our stadium gets but neglects to mention it’s because it’s always at least 50% opposing team fans so our offense has to work a silent count in their own stadium. There are so many fans of the other team in the stands each week that every other NFL team thinks of Glendale, AZ as their second home field. Name one other team in the NFL that has the head coach begging fans not to sell their tickets to opposing team fans? People in the stands care so little about the Cardinals you will see people wearing hats and jerseys for teams that aren’t even on the field.

Cardinals fans are the worst fans in the NFL. At least half of them cheer for the Cardinals one week, then will cheer against them the next week if their “home” team is playing. After the Cardinals beat the Bengals I had a drunk guy wearing a Tyrann Mathieu jersey high-five me and tell me how happy he was because the Steelers are his favorite team and that victory affected the AFC North standings. A friend of mine was born and raised in Arizona, grew up a 49ers fan (and still claims loyalty to them), then bought a Drew Brees jersey the week the Saints won the Super Bowl. He also attends a few Cardinals games a year – he is representative of most fans in the stadium on any given Sunday.

All of Nothing: A Season With the Arizona Cardinals – a mirage. We were promised an in-depth look at the team after cameras spent an entire season with them, and all we got is a glorified piece of NFL-sanctioned propaganda narrated by Jon Hamm. The only things I learned after watching All or Nothing is that the Cardinals have to sit in boring-ass meetings with shitty Powerpoint presentations just like the rest of us office jockeys, and Steve Keim should never be allowed to name a child ever again. Releasing that right before the season starts didn’t get me fired up – it just reminds me how fucked we are since our season depends on a defensive superstar coming off his second major knee injury in three years, and Carson Palmer somehow bouncing back and not embarrassing himself in the postseason for the first time in his career. I don’t know why they don’t just bother calling the series Nothing given how it ends.

But it’s not all bad - the Cardinals shored up their defense by trading for Chandler Jones, signing Tyvon Branch, then drafting Robert Nkemdiche in the first round. I can’t wait until we only lose in the playoffs by 14 now instead of 30. Fuck this team, fuck its bandwagon fans, fuck tailgating in 110 heat, fuck Daryl Washington, and fuck All or Nothing for making me cry when Michael Bidwill’s dog died.


Clue Heywood:

There’s not much to complain about aside from Carson Palmer morphing into Ryan Lindley in the playoffs. My problem’s with our fans. Aside from a few of us, Cardinals fans largely didn’t exist before 2006, and even then it wasn’t widespread until 2008. After three straight good seasons we are at peak bandwagon. And our bandwagon is a giant lifted truck with a huge Monster energy drink logo sticker in the rear window that is never, ever taken off road.

Jesus Christ, our fans have got to be the most ignorant white trash group outside of a Trump rally. Take a normal NFL crowd, which is already the dregs of society, and make them drink in 108 degree heat and listen to bro-country for five hours and you’ve got the Cardinals crowd. It’s the drunken crowd at a Kenny Chesney concert, but somehow with even less football knowledge. I’ve been going to games since ‘88 and I swear the game experience the last couple years has somehow been even worse than when 28,000 of the dumbest motherfuckers in Arizona—that’s saying something—sat out in direct sunlight on the metal bleachers of Sun Devil Stadium to watch us lose to Rich Kotite’s Jets. That’s what we get for putting the stadium in Glendale, I guess.


Captain Lou:

While I don’t necessarily buy into the “young, hot-shot coordinator” thesis, our coaching staff is on the extreme other end of the spectrum. The best head coach in franchise history is 63 and already stated that this will be his last head coaching job. His right hand man and Assistant Head Coach is 77! An offensive line coach is 71. And the “Pass Rush Specialist” is an octogenarian with a GREAT-GRANDCHILD! If a nasty flu strain spreads around this season, the team could be sporting 2-3 “In Memoriam” patches on their jerseys.

Our quest for a home-grown franchise QB enters yet another year. The best case scenario involves the team trading a bunch of picks to move up in the 2017 draft to snag a QB, hope that Palmer can last another season and Stanton can bridge the gap until said QB is ready. The probability of success in this plan is around 3.2%. And this is the best case scenario unless Matt Barkley gets bitten by a radioactive scorpion and gains superpowers.

Glendale is a shitbox with a serial killer on the loose. Although, I am kind of surprised that there’s only one serial killer that’s roaming the greater Phoenix metro area. The team plays next to the soon-to-be-former-Coyotes arena, a constant reminder that municipally funded arenas are a terrible investment. In 10 years when Gila River Casino Arena (or whatever the fuck it will be called then - the venue changes names every Olympiad) is a roof rat-infested eye-sore, the Bidwills will find a way to bitch about it hurting the team’s value and will demand a new stadium. After all, University of Phoenix Stadium will be an ancient 20 years old by then.

If given the opportunity, our idiot fanbase would probably rename the stadium “Trump University Stadium” and sign Tim Tebow to be the backup QB.

I irrationally hate the fact that Steve Keim and Seahawks GM John Schneider are friends. This shouldn’t bother me. But it does.


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Drew Magary is a Deadspin columnist and columnist for GEN magazine. You can buy Drew's second novel, The Hike, through here.