Who was William Vogel Bidwill? For many, he was mostly reviled as a lousy owner during the Football Cardinals 27 seasons in St. Louis. Personally, I had a love-hate relationship with the Big Red because I cried when they lose but when they won I always thought this was going to be there year, in hopes the team will be in the Super Bowl and win it for the city. There were some good moments back in the Mid-70s during the hey-day of the Cardiac Cardinals which was lead by players like Jim Hart, Mel Gray, Terry Metcalf, Hall of Famers like Roger Wehrli, Jackie Smith and that Great offensive line lead by Hall of Famer Dan Dierdorf, All-Pro lineman, Tom Banks, and Conrad Dobler; and of course the great offensive mastermind, Head Coach Don Coryell. Despite teams talented play on the field, the team managed only two playoff appearances which they lost and would never come close in making into the playoffs with the exception of the 1982 NFL strike shorten season which the playoffs were expanded to 16 teams. There was that near special year in 1984 when the Big Red came so close in matching the Cardiac Cards of the mid-70s when they barely missed the postseason on a potential game-winning field goal in the last game of the regular season against the Washington Redskins. Sadly the team went way downhill after the season and fans just gave up on the Big Red. When Bidwill announce that he was moving the team to Arizona, I was angry at that time but with the local leaders in St. Louis because they didn’t want the team anymore.
The truth of the matter was Bill Bidwill loved St. Louis and wanted to stay, even if it meant to build a stadium in Maryland Heights MO., which county commissioner Gene McNary nearly made it happen but St. Louis Metro politicians didn’t want to support the idea and basically told Bill to hit the road, we would take our chances in getting either an expansion team or another NFL team. Good idea Mr. Former Mayor Vicent Schemmel, you should know what people say about Karma, Right? It usually comes back to bite you where it hurts a generation of St. Louis football who now have no NFL team to cheer, with the exception of the St. Louis Battlehawk who will play in the XFL in February 2020. What was funny was 29 years later these same politicians who told Bidwill to hit the road, tried in vain to keep the Rams in St. Louis which was owned by a fellow Missourian name Enos Stanely Kroenke who sadly trashed the city and move the team back to Los Angeles. Now Bidwill had his own faults when it came to owning the Football Cardinals. He had a mean streak toward some of his players and coaches, in fact, whenever he fired a coach he used to lock the coach’s office so they wouldn’t get into their own office or at least have time to clean out and take their own belongings. Or the time that he didn’t attend the Hall of Fame induction for Tight End Jackie Smith who unretired to play for the arch-rival Dallas Cowboys during the 1978 season just to get that one elusive Super Bowl ring which pissed off Mr. Bidwill. But he never felt the need to stroke his own ego and he was perhaps the most misunderstood individual who behind closed doors did some wonderful things for the St. Louis area. Like the time back in the early 1980s he allowed inner-city high school football teams to practice at the Football Cardinals training camp or allow them to practice at Busch Stadium with the team. He was a public figure that was very private when and his son Michael Bidwill attended and donated $10,000 to the St. Louis Tom Lombardo Chapter of the National Football Foundation. People assumed that he didn’t care and that couldn’t be further from the truth. In my own opinion, if I were to write a book about Mr. Bidwill as a sports owner, he was not good. Overall his team was lousy and they never hosted a playoff game during their 27 seasons in St. Louis. He had a terrible scouting department which led to drafting terrible players and there’s an old saying that nice guys finish last which was part of the reason the team left when fans just got fed up with team culture of losing. But upon further review Leaders and fans were better off in keeping the Cardinals in St. Louis than the Rams staying despite the team winning the Super Bowl in 1999 because as I said early in my article, Bill Bidwill wanted to stay in St. Louis while Stan Kroenke wanted to move the Rams back to L.A. I admit I became a Rams fan when they first move to St. Louis which was owned by fellow St. Louisian Georgia Founterre and at that time it was a relatively a stable team that prior to moving to St. Louis, the Rams had some good teams and good players on the roster. But now I cannot root for the Rams like I used to anymore because the way how current owner Stan Kroenke talked about the city and the sad reality of our American sports culture is that owner gets to do what they want to do and the fans get the short end of the stick. In the end, I want to thank Mr. William V. Bidwill in bringing the NFL to St. Louis and even though things didn’t work out as we all wish for, your team gave us so many thrilling memories that will forever be apart of St. Louis.