Whiz passes a mentor

Posted by Darren Urban on November 28, 2011 – 7:02 pm

When Ken Whisenhunt was playing in the NFL, Jim Hanifan was one of his coaches. The two were close, and Hanifan liked to tell his big H-back, “Someday, you’ll wind up the Governor of the state of Georgia.”

“I knew he’d be a tremendous success in whatever he did,” Hanifan said Sunday, when he just so happened to be at the same game as Whisenhunt. Hanifan, in fact, was one of the most successful head coaches in Cardinals’ franchise history, totaling 39 wins from 1980-85. It was coincidence, of course – Hanifan was taking part in the Cards’ annual alumni reunion every time they have a road trip in St. Louis – but Whisenhunt’s win against the Rams broke his tie with Hanifan on the team’s all-time wins list. Whisenhunt now has 40 victories.

Whisenhunt wasn’t much in the mood — with a 4-7 record — to be talking about his place on the wins list. Don Coryell is the franchise’s all-time leader with 42, and the Cards have five games remaining.

“To be honest with you, I haven’t really thought about that,” Whisenhunt said. “We’re not doing what we want to do record-wise, and that’s what’s more important to me. I feel very lucky to have this group of men and be in this town with our fans, and I know it’s been a tough year for all of us, but that’s something to talk about another day. I’m not really too concerned about that right now.”

Hanifan said he was “proud” of the work Whisenhunt had done at coach and was happy to be passed on the wins chart by his former student.

“It’s funny,” Whisenhunt said. “I am glad I got a chance to see him on the field before the game. I know he is happy about that and it was ironic, but also kind of special.”

As for the politics, Whisenhunt said he’d probably pass, although he chuckled at the memory of Hanifan’s predictions once upon a time.

“I think he said that because he felt sorry for me because I had to do all those wham blocks, lead blocking on the nose tackles,” Whisenhunt said. “He was a very good coach who really helped me in my career and it means a lot to me he would say those kinds of things. You look at people who have influenced you in your career and he was certainly one of those.”

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Posted in Blog | 20 Comments »

20 Responses to “Whiz passes a mentor”

  1. By SuperBird on Nov 28, 2011 | Reply

    Fantastic story Darren, now hopefully everyone will keep quiet about firing Whiz. IN WHIZ WE TRUST. Dont care what our record is right now, as long as we beat those cowgirls this weekend!! GO CARDS!!!

  2. By Andy M on Nov 28, 2011 | Reply

    Whisenhunt is a proud, stubborn guy with high standards. He is certainly thoughtful. The margin between success and failure in the NFL is so thin–a few more good plays early in the season or a quarterback that was able to absorb the system quicker–the Cardinals would be 7-4 or 6-5 and in the hunt for the playoffs. My opinion doesn’t matter, but I think the one area in which Whiz has been weak, has been his sense of game-time immediacy and adjusting on the fly. It is a fine line between being cool and consistent under pressure and seizing the moment by projecting intensity at crunch time. It has been good to see him more animated in the past few games. The team has seemingly rallied around him. This has been a rough patch for his regime, but I think he will weather it. If we were 7-4 he would seem like a genius. Whiz is still learning too and he does have a core. I, for one, appreciate his adherence to his principals.

  3. By AndyStandsUp on Nov 28, 2011 | Reply

    A little off topic, but doesn’t Coryell deserve to be in the HOF?
    The “Air Coryell” years with SD alone should have put him in.
    Back in the day, I was HUGE Charger fan that followed Jefferson, Joiner, Winslow, Muncie, Chandler and Fouts play with precision and grace.
    Especially in his passing, he should be voted in post mortem.

  4. By Steve on Nov 28, 2011 | Reply

    Darren: Would you guess that finding a better no.2 receiver to compliment Fitzgerald will be a high priority this offseason as well as offensive tackle?

  5. By Darren Urban on Nov 29, 2011 | Reply

    Steve —

    RE: No. 2 receiver

    I think they will look at the position but no, I don’t think it is a high priority compared to some other spots.

  6. By lacardsfan on Nov 28, 2011 | Reply


    I find your new article on the main page “The Challenge On The Run ” tough to read. Come on, Whiz challenging the team to be better at the run??? How about Whiz to be tougher on MILLER to call a RUN PLAY.

    Last game is what I would say 90% of fans have been talking about for the last two years. QB doesnt know the system or is not playing well, you RUN THE BALL.

    This was the first game in 2 years Whiz and company actually stuck with the run, even trying to blow it with the INT in the second half.

    Running the ball is not the problem, calling a Run play is.

    Better late than never I guess, as long as they dont revert back again.

  7. By Darren Urban on Nov 29, 2011 | Reply

    lacardsfan —

    RE: Running article

    Feel free not to read it next time, then. It’s an easy fix.

  8. By CreditCard on Nov 28, 2011 | Reply


    Woeful, (v) i. When 44 victories is the franchise all-time total for one coach for one the oldest franchises in the NFL. ii. When ownership thinks 44 victories is a great milestone. iii. Typical OL play of the AZ Cardnals. iv. See dreadful. antinem: Packers, Giants, Steelers …..

  9. By rio on Nov 28, 2011 | Reply


  10. By SteveG. on Nov 29, 2011 | Reply

    Passing a mentor HAS to be more comfortable than passing a kidney stone 😉

  11. By cardsalltheway on Nov 29, 2011 | Reply

    I have reasons to not like Georgia but I have confidence in the people there to choose a proper Governor. Ken W. can’t get a QB to throw consistently to Fitz, who is NOT a diva WR. Fitz deserves better yet Ken W. won’t let Richard Bartel show what he can do when he is just as capable as Johnny S. and certainly Kolb. Nobody should be a Governor of a state when things like this happen on a 50+ man roster.

  12. By cardsalltheway on Nov 29, 2011 | Reply

    One of the Cardinal radio 620 squeaky bird squeakers suggested that Norv Turner ought to be fired. But as I recall, Norv Turner soundly whipped Ken W’s Cardinals last year 42 – 10
    I don’t recall hearing those squeaky 620 birds last year from the same radio squeakers, I wonder why?

  13. By Ben on Nov 29, 2011 | Reply


    My comment was not meant to be rude about your writing. And I am sorry if you took it that way.

    It was on Whiz somehow challenging the line to play better when for two years we never call run plays.

    This was off-topic anyways.

    Love your writing, once again sorry if my comment was taken out of context.

  14. By Darren Urban on Nov 29, 2011 | Reply

    Ben —

    RE: Comment

    No worries. Been a long couple of days and I have a short fuse. Understand the point you are making.

  15. By clssylssy on Nov 29, 2011 | Reply

    Very nice article Darren…very nice, positive and uplifting read. Can’t understand why people insist on being so negative about the Cards…look around folks, there are other teams with our record or worse…AGAIN, I don’t hear Colts fans who have paid considerably more for season tickets being so UGLY! GO CARDS! FLY HIGH!

  16. By Mike in Mesa on Nov 29, 2011 | Reply

    Acho and Scho should have been playing from day one. I still don’t understand why coaches don’t play the better players. And when he comes back Housler should be starting over the other TE’s also. Housler caught 7 of 8 passes in one of the preseason games. He’s stronger and faster than any of the other TE’s. Put Heap out to pasture and play Housler.

    I remember a preseason game years ago against Oakland and if memory serves me right Pittman had 3 rushing tds. And then sat behind Adrian Murrell, who sucked. Pittman was obviously better, but being a rookie and the coaches ego thing going on he wasn’t playing. I really don’t understand what some coaches are doing.

    How many times have we seen guys sitting on a bench waiting for an injury to get their chance? Like Warner for instance. If Green hadn’t of gotten hurt would anyone even know who he is?

  17. By Darren Urban on Nov 29, 2011 | Reply

    Mike in Mesa —

    RE: Playing young guys

    You are way oversimplifying things. And careful on making the “rookie-did-this-in-preseason” arguments. Those young players/rookies are playing in non-gameplanned games against other inexperienced or soon-to-be-out-of-the-league players. Does not necessarily mean they will be better when it all counts. You have no idea what mistakes are being made, etc.

  18. By cards62 on Nov 29, 2011 | Reply

    Credit Card said it best.

    When 44 wins by a coach is your team all time record your team has had a lot of problems and bad years, and no one knows that better than us fans.

    Here is to hope that Whisenhunt can turn it around and get us 200 wins before he retires.

    Darren off subject, but do you think the Cards might play Duece Lutui some this season to see if he is worth bringing back next year or just keep him on the shelf all season so no other teams can see him play this year?

    Thanks and go Cardinals beat the Cowboys

  19. By Darren Urban on Nov 29, 2011 | Reply

    Cards62 –

    RE: Lutui

    I think the Cards know exactly what they gave in Deuce so I dont think they need to play him to make a decision.

  20. By Chuck 1 on Nov 30, 2011 | Reply

    Reading fans postings about playing the best player at each position reminds me (AGAIN) of what Whiz preached (AND PRACTICED) when he first arrived in Phoenix (and, I’m paraphrasing): “No one has a position locked up. Players will have to win their position and the best player will play”.

    That hasn’t happened for a couple of years e.g. Porter/Acho etc.

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