Congratulations to the Arizona Cardinals for winning the NFC Championship, defeating the Philadelphia Eagles 32-25. It’s a little ironic that they hoist the George Halas Trophy, which bears the name of the man who is considered largely responsible for chasing them out of Chicago after the 1959 season. I pulled this excerpt from an interesting article in the Sports Illustrated Vault that talks about some of the behind the scenes action at the owner’s meeting prior to the 1960 season. Give it a read.
But aside from this, Halas had an even more compelling personal reason for enlarging the league. Chicago is the only two-team city in the NFL. Halas is forced to share this rich market with the Chicago Cardinals,
owned by Mr. and Mrs. Walter Wolfner. He has offered the Wolfners as much as $500,000 to move their franchise elsewhere, but Violet Wolfner is a stubborn woman who considers that the Cardinals have as much right in Chicago as the Bears. Besides this-or because of it-she has a strong dislike for Halas. And it is Mrs. Wolfner who runs the Cardinals; she inherited the team from her first husband, Charles Bidwill.
Aside from competition at the gate, which is negligible, Halas would like to get the Cardinals out of Chicago so that he can cut a bigger share of the television cake. All of the other clubs in the NFL televise their road games back to their home cities, realizing a nice profit from the deal. Halas cannot do this because when the Bears are on the road the Cardinals are at home, and league rules forbid televising a game into a league city where the home team is playing.
The Cardinals could easily have accepted Halas’ offer, since they have had frequent opportunities to leave Chicago. Their very weakness at the gate has made them the first target for any rich young man seeking to own a pro football team. This marketability has inflated the value of the Cardinals, and it is one of the reasons why the Wolfners have been against expanding the league. When the National Football League finally did admit the two new teams, this meant to the Cardinals that 1) they had fewer locations available to move to and 2) they had fewer prospective franchise buyers. The bull market for the Cardinal franchise was over.
As I was listening to the radio this morning, some old-timers called in voicing their support for the old-time Chicago club that used to play out of Comiskey Park from the 1920’s until they moved to St. Louis prior to the 1960 season. I guess it’s as good a reason as any to pull for the Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII.
BEAR DOWN CARDS!!!