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University of Phoenix Stadium to host college title

Posted by Darren Urban on December 16, 2013 – 2:22 pm

The news came out today that University of Phoenix Stadium has been picked to host the 2016 national championship game for college football in our post-BCS world. That will be the game following the 2015 season, and will be the second year in a row such an event will be held at the Cardinals’ home. The Super Bowl will be at University of Phoenix Stadium in 2015, following the 2014 NFL season.

Arizona beat out Jacksonville, New Orleans and Tampa for the 2016 game. Tampa was awarded the 2017 game. The game in Arizona will be played January 11, 2016.

“The competition for attracting events with this type of economic impact and prestige is intense,” Cardinals president Michael Bidwill said in a statement. “For Arizona to be awarded college football’s National Championship game is a huge victory for our community, especially a year after University of Phoenix Stadium will host the Super Bowl.  We were excited to work with the Fiesta Bowl on the bid and are anxious to continue that partnership moving forward.”

Said Bill Hancock, executive director of the new College Football Playoff, “Arizona has proven itself to be one of the greatest settings for premiere college football events, and has become a favored destination for fans from around the country. The folks in Arizona put together an exceptional bid that really won the day with the management committee.”

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Keim: “Larry Fitzgerald … will remain a Cardinal”

Posted by Darren Urban on October 28, 2013 – 8:07 am

We covered the Larry Fitzgerald trade rumors yesterday. Here was General Manager Steve Keim this morning on his weekly “Doug and Wolf” appearance:

“I can tell you two things, and I want to make this clear and simple: I have not had one conversation with another NFL team regarding a trade with Larry Fitzgerald,” Keim said. “Number two, starting with Michael Bidwill on down, it is our intent for Larry Fitzgerald to retire a Cardinal. Period.

“If there is any grey area there, let me know, and we can get that out.”

Keim did talk about the potential restructuring or contract issue with Fitz going forward, noting — and this is important given Fitz’s $18 million cap hit for 2014 — that the current pact has been factored into roster planning.

“We did Larry’s deal last time, and I have talked about our future looking at it with the three-year view regarding the cap and contracts, etc., (but) regardless of the situation, we have accounted for Larry’s deal moving forward,” Keim said. “Anything else that’s done is something we will have to look at and continue to talk through, but Larry Fitzgerald is a Cardinal and will remain a Cardinal.”

Keim said he wouldn’t be doing his job if he didn’t at least listen to whatever might come down the road (Wolf asked if he would pull the trigger if he were offered four No. 1 picks — which of course would never happen), but under the circumstances, the team is happy with Fitzgerald. “I’d probably have to burn 15 jerseys in my house if we did (trade him),” Keim deadpanned.


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Campbell back for meetings and Palmer’s place

Posted by Darren Urban on October 14, 2013 – 8:24 am

First, and most importantly, defensive end Calais Campbell was released from Stanford hospital last night about 11 p.m. on the plane of Michael Bidwill, accompanied by Campbell’s sister Keyonne, who had attended the game, and Cardinals athletic trainer Chad Cook. They got back to Arizona about 1 a.m. and Campbell took part in team meetings at 8 a.m.

Campbell had a CT scan and MRI yesterday and thus far, has checked out OK but the Cardinals will continue to evaluate him. A lot of people have asked for Campbell’s exact injury. Basically, Campbell was feeling numbness and tingling in his extremities and the Cards decided to be very careful. Campbell was moving after the play. A lot of this was precautionary. But it’s great news.

General Manager Steve Keim, on his weekly “Doug and Wolf” appearance on Arizona Sports 620, said it was too early to know if Campbell might have a chance to play against the Seahawks Thursday. Obviously the Cards could use him, but the fact — after that scary scene on the Candlestick turf Sunday afternoon — Campbell is doing better is the best news of all.

UPDATE: Campbell said Monday he was hopeful he would be cleared to play Thursday.

On a totally different topic, Keim was asked about quarterback Carson Palmer and whether what Palmer gives the Cards outweigh the negatives — like interceptions.

“Well, number one, (Carson) is certainly our best option right now,” Keim said. “Number two, the thing I like about him is the way he has handled adversity. The other games he struggled, to me they were more middle-to-late third-quarter issues. This game started rough early. The way he handled adversity and the way he came back and made nice throws and put us in a position to have at least a chance of winning I think was exciting to me. Again, each week we talk about whose fault and I really don’t want to get into finger-pointing, but there is a throw he tries to make to Larry (Fitzgerald) down the seam which he forces. That is obviously a bad throw and a mistake. On the other intercetpion, JIm Dray was supposed to hook that route and insted he drifted. Carson put the ball in the spot where Jim was supposed to be. Again, that one is on the receiving tight end.

“(Carson) has to play more consistent. He knows it. When you make cirtical mistakes at certain points in the game, it deflates you. That’s no different than our Pro Bowl star receiver, has a 75-yard touchdown, fights through an injury and plays for us which we were happy with, and then on the 24-yard line going in to take the lead, we have a critical fumble. I think that is something you can play about every position. But when you are the quarterback, the bulls-eye is certainly on your chest.”


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Public camp practices at UoP — but more to be settled

Posted by Darren Urban on June 11, 2013 – 5:37 pm

Michael Bidwill confirmed today the Cardinals will hold their public training camp practices at University of Phoenix Stadium. Beyond that, the Cardinals are still working on the details.

“Everything in regard to the stadium is set,” Bidwill said. “Everything else in regard to Glendale is not set.”

Bidwill said he is hopeful it will come together. He reiterated camp is closer to the largest part of the fan base in the Valley, and noted 20 of the 32 NFL teams practice at their facility and/or stadium. The plan is that the Cards will have places on the concourse for fan activities, Bidwill said. There is a Real Madrid- L.A. Galaxy soccer game in the stadium in Aug. 1, but Bidwill said the Cards have the ability to practice at ASU’s facility that day. The Cards also think they have a good plan to work with the turf in the stadium, which obviously would take a pounding with daily practices.

As far as moving the entire football operations out to Glendale, Bidwill said that wouldn’t necessarily happen. “Those are some of the things we haven’t decided on,” he said.

“We tried to make the best decision for the team,” Bidwill said. “The facilities NAU had moved us into the last couple of years were completely substandard for a professional football team and we were paying big rent up there. They just didn’t want to cooperate with us anymore. … I was not going to let this team be at a competitive disadvantage.

“I think it will make us a better team and give fans better access.”

There is no timetable on having camp at the stadium either.

“We don’t want to necessarily look at this as a short-term situation, but we’ll see how it goes,” Bidwill said.


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Another successful Pat’s Run

Posted by Darren Urban on April 20, 2013 – 10:49 am

It was a great evening and morning for Pat’s Run. First was the Peter King Tweetup at Tom’s Tavern Friday night, which went well and raised $10,000 to fund a Tillman Foundation scholarship. Pat’s widow Marie was on hand, King did a Q and A session with Michael Bidwill, Steve Keim and Bruce Arians, and some players mingled around to cap the evening. (Here’s a photo gallery of the event, and a hat tip to media relations VP Mark Dalton, who helped get it off the ground. There was a lot of work by many that went into such a smooth operation.)

Then this morning was the always great Pat’s Run. It’s a lot more crowded than it once was, but it’s for such a good cause and more importantly, everybody there is so happy to be there and taking part. If you have never done it, you should. It doesn’t matter if you can run or want to run. No one is disappointed when they cross the finish line in Sun Devil Stadium. It’s a rush whether you push yourself hard or merely “wog” (walking and jogging) your way there. Hey, if Fitz can do it after working out all week — there he is finishing below, along with fellow receiver Kerry Taylor in the red shirt behind him — you can too.

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Breaking down a trade, and other Palmer aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on April 2, 2013 – 6:22 pm

There is really no way to know how long the Cardinals have been thinking about Carson Palmer, but it’s clear it’s been a little while even if the official trade talks with the Raiders didn’t start until last Friday. The Cards were in a good spot, since it seemed obvious Palmer wasn’t going to go back to Oakland. The price wasn’t steep, not even if it had been straight up for a sixth-round pick, and the Cards got a seventh-rounder back. (The conditional pick next year is reportedly another seventh rounder, and since the conventional wisdom that a pick a year later is worth less than the current year, does that mean the Cards might have given up an undrafted free agent?)

The price for Palmer — about $8 million in salary, according to reports — is fair for a veteran QB with a decent resume. More importantly, the Cardinals were good with it.

“Not only with the draft compensation but with the restructuring of the contract, we had an area we felt comfortable with as an organization,” General Manager Steve Keim said. “We stuck to it and we were patient and it worked out.”

Keim said he and Team President Michael Bidwill had a long talk about the direction of the organization when Palmer’s availability came to light. Keim stressed the opportunity to get a franchise quarterback at this stage (which sounds even better given the prospects in the draft, which are clearly not exciting too many QB-needy teams league-wide given all the QB moves.) The Cards had gone for a franchise QB trade recently, and that didn’t work out all that well.

“I think there were many lessons we learned from that trade and from other trades that we brought collectively to the table,” Bidwill said of the Kolb deal.

The changes have come fast and furious over the past month or so. “All along we talked about being proactive and being aggressive,” Keim said. The Cardinals have. And now they have a new quarterback to run out there.

– It does feel like this is a perfect fit for what Bruce Arians does. I do think Palmer can still play well, and I do think he was the best option for the Cards. Is he the long-term solution? Of course not. Even if he has a Kurt Warner-like renaissance, the Cardinals are going to keep looking for long-term answers. They already were caught short once when Warner retired and they don’t want it to happen again.

– There was also cautious optimism from players today. “Any time you add a weapon, it helps your team,” running back Rashard Mendenhall said. “But we are all waiting to see how it shakes out.” As Fitz said, “I’m coming off the most disappointing season of my career and I’m in ‘Prove it’ mode.” Everyone on the Cards, especially on offense, probably needs to view it that way.

– It can’t hurt on the timing, which got Palmer to Arizona right when voluntary work started. He lost out on most of Tuesday as the deal was completed, but emphasized he is now in Arizona ready to work. I assume that means starting full bore Wednesday. (He did get a post-contract mini-workout in with John Lott, and talked a little with new teammate Dan Williams as you can see below.)

– Speaking of Warner, Palmer knows the parallel of coming to the Cards at this late stage of his career (Palmer is 33, Warner was 34 when the Cards got him.) “It’s hard to make those comparisons. Kurt was a phenomenal player. He came here and just lit people up. I’d love to be compared to some of the things that he did here when it’s my time to leave here.”

– In his opening statement, Palmer addressed the many stories about his leaving the Raiders, including the one out there that he declined to renegotiate his contract down from $13 million in 2013 even though the Raiders were reportedly still offering $10 million this season.

“There’s been a lot of rumors and stories and inaccuracies about my departure from Oakland,” Palmer said. “I want to clear the air on that. I was presented with a contract there and I was advised not to sign that contract, with no security, no guarantees. My agent told me he would never have me sign that contract. That opportunity led me here.”

Palmer said the Raiders were moving toward youth and he had no problem with that. He also called Head Coach Dennis Allen and General Manager Reggie McKenzie “stars” at their jobs.

– Arians was increasingly optimistic about his team. It lead to the funniest exchange of the day as Arians praised the players he saw for the first time Tuesday morning.

“Having walked into that room today, that’s as good a looking football team as I’ve seen in my 20 years of coaching, stepping in the first day,” Arians said. “There’s not a bad body in the room. It’s a great looking bunch of athletes, and we will never use talent as an excuse.”

Palmer didn’t hesitate. “You saying you’ve got a good body?”

“Yeah buddy. Yes indeed,” Arians fired back. “Sixty and sexy.”

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Kolb contract an issue, ribs aren’t

Posted by Darren Urban on February 12, 2013 – 8:40 pm

When Michael Bidwill said yesterday on the radio Kevin Kolb’s contract is “probably something we’re going to need to address,” it wasn’t a surprise. Everyone covering this team has been saying the same thing, that the $11 million Kolb is owed in 2013 (a $2 million roster bonus in March and a $9 million salary) was never going to make it through March.

There was always going to be an element of a game of chicken between the sides. The Cardinals need a quarterback, and Kolb knows that. He also knows there are other teams out there that need a quarterback. But even if the Cards are going to slice that salary, he still might make more in Arizona than elsewhere. Given Kolb’s unfortunate injury history, no one is going to hand him a starting job, whether it is the Cardinals or elsewhere.

I have had some questions today about Kolb’s health. When I last spoke to Kolb the day Arians was hired (via text) he said his ribs were doing well. I don’t expect those to hinder him in the offseason, for those worried his 2013 could be in jeopardy. Obviously he has to stay healthy once the games begin, but there shouldn’t be 2012 aftereffects.

I believe Kolb likes the Cardinals and wants to stay, but not at the expense of a better contract. The rules are such that this coaching staff will not get a chance to see Kolb live before contract decisions must be made (although QB coach Freddie Kitchens and GM Steve Keim have both seen Kolb enough to give a proper assessment.)

Kolb hitting the open market wouldn’t be a shock, even if he returns, a la Levi Brown. Kolb’s will-he-or-won’t-he status will be the story of the pre-free agent period.


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Planning a practice bubble in Tempe

Posted by Darren Urban on February 11, 2013 – 4:41 pm

For a long time the concept of a indoor practice bubble being installed at the Cards’ Tempe facility has been floating out there. It was something that first got traction when Ken Whisenhunt was first hired, although it hasn’t happened yet.

Yet may be the key phrase there. Team president Michael Bidwill said today, during an interview on “Doug and Wolf” on Arizona Sports 620, that the hope is that the Cardinals will finally get a bubble sometime this year.

“We’re going through a process now of getting a bubble in Tempe,” Bidwill said. “We had a political problem there, the former Mayor was opposed to it, but (new) Mayor (Mark) Mitchell, who is a great guy, is all for being supportive of this and hopefully we’ll get that done at the Tempe training facility this year. It’s an exciting time for us and it will really bring us back up to speed as far as being state of the art.”

Obviously, given the extreme heat early in the season, the chance to have an air conditioned practice facility would be a big benefit for the Cardinals — and make sure they don’t have to travel to ASU anymore (like last season, pictured below) to use a bubble if the weather called for it. Usually it stays pretty toasty during practice times all the way until late October, nearly halfway through the schedule.

Along those lines, Bidwill reiterated nothing has been decided on the spot of 2013 training camp, although discussions are ongoing with both NAU in Flagstaff and Glendale, location of University of Phoenix Stadium.

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Bidwill talks training camp, BPA

Posted by Darren Urban on January 31, 2013 – 3:12 pm

Team president Michael Bidwill is in New Orleans for the Super Bowl, and during a visit to Radio Row, touched on a subject a lot of people are wondering about: Where training camp will be held in 2013. It’s no secret the team’s contract with Flagstaff ran out after next year, and the team is currently exploring options.

Bidwill talked about some of the issues the Cardinals have had with NAU, with construction and being displaced and issues of various accommodations, and he said NAU plans to address those things. “That’s real good for them,” Bidwill told “Bickley and MJ” on XTRA 910, “because there are other competitors out there we are speaking with.”

One of those competitors is Glendale, where University of Phoenix Stadium resides. That could end up being the place the Cards go for camp, using the stadium and other possible new facilities to be built.

“They are (a viable option),” Bidwill said. “We are considering both (Flagstaff and Glendale), that’s for sure.”

As for what that might mean to the fans, Bidwill said fan access will still be important, regardless of where the Cards end up.

“The whole idea behind training camp is both a football activity where we are getting players ready for the season, but it is also a fan activity where we want to bring fans in,” Bidwill said. “There are many elements where it is great about doing it in Flagstaff, but there are also great possibilities of doing it at University of Phoenix Stadium. It could be a really a fantastic site. There are a little bit of tradeoffs, but there is no doubt (the camp experience) gets better and better each year and that is something we want to continue to focus on.”

– Bidwill had an interesting quote when talking about drafting a quarterback. He reiterated that the team needed to address the quarterback situation, but was going to leave those specifics up to GM Steve Keim and coach Bruce Arians. But he talked about the things he had witnessed in the draft room over the years. “Every time we have reached, we have made a mistake. I don’t want to reach. You start reaching for a guy rather than going for best player available, you make mistakes.”

– As for free agency, he also is leaving that to Keim, but as for being tight against the salary cap, “I know we have some flexibility and there are things we can do around the cap to make room to get better,” Bidwill said.

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The search for a coach

Posted by Darren Urban on January 19, 2013 – 12:04 am

The dinner was at Tarbell’s on Camelback Road on Wednesday night, a prelude to a formal Thursday interview with potential head coach Bruce Arians. But Michael Bidwill felt that night — as the conversation turned, as much as they tried not to, to hardcore football.

“He’s a great teacher,” Bidwill said, “and he didn’t need a chalkboard to communicate what he wanted to do.”

That was the night Bidwill was convinced Arians was going to be the right pick to be the Cardinals’ next head coach. General manager Steve Keim wouldn’t go that far, but the vibe was good, he said, and that carried over to the next day’s talk — a long day that eventually ended up with Arians accepting the job in the early evening.

“It was very similar to when I decided what college I went to,” said Keim, the former offensive lineman from North Carolina State. “I remember having just the right feel.”

Bidwill said the Cardinals interviewed a total of “close to 10 candidates.” Not all were known publicly and at least one was on the college level, Bidwill added. Arians was a target from the start, Keim said. Why did it take so long to talk to him? Keim said there were others the Cards wanted to get to first — Andy Reid and Mike McCoy were named the day the Cards fired Ken Whisenhunt — and Arians was also in the playoffs with the Colts. Then Arians came down with the serious ear infection that not only kept him from the Indianapolis playoff game but for a couple of days after, and then Arians also committed to interviewing with the Bears (a job for which Arians was the runner-up to Marc Trestman.)

But Keim said he had been talking with Arians’ agent, Mike Brown, from the time Whisenhunt was relieved of his duties. “We knew at some point we’d have a chance to get in front of Bruce,” Keim said.

The exact details of how the coaching decision was made was, obviously, kept close to the vest by the power structure (Bidwill said director of player personnel Jason Licht and brother Tim Bidwill joined Keim and himself on the coaching interviews.)

“One thing through this process I have learned is the amount of misinformation,” Keim said. “You guys (in the media) have a tough job, because a lot of times, you’re chasing ghosts.

“We stayed the course. We had several guys we wanted to talk to, but once we talked to Bruce, we knew he was our guy.”

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