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Lessons Learned from the Cardinals -- Is there Hope for the Bengals Front Office?

While it is tempting for Bengal fans to draw hope from the Cardinals’ resurgence because of a transition of power from long-time owner Bill Bidwill to his son, Michael, and the hiring of a GM, we should not jump so quickly to conclusions.

Until this season, the Cardinals had exactly one playoff win in 51 years under owner Bill Bidwill.  Several years ago, power in the organization shifted to his son, Michael, a former prosecutor with a hard edge.  In addition to successfully lobbying for the construction of a new stadium, the front office was restructured and now includes a General Manager.  And now, the Cards are in the Super Bowl.

Is this something we should draw Mike Brown’s attention to?

Doing a little research, my answer is probably not.  Phoenix-area press has many articles that paint the younger Mr. Bidwill as a control freak, who has to have his hand in every football decision.  If that is true, it raises the question whether GM Rod Graves is just a figurehead.  Phoenix-area blogs dismissively refer to him as the Bidwill family’s lackey.

This is not to say that Michael Bidwill has not done some things very well.  After all, he hired Ken Whisenhunt.  He has opened the family’s purse strings to do things like upgrading the team’s weight room and workout facilities.  Arizona has become much more attractive to potential free agents.  By all accounts, it is an entirely different organization than it was six years ago when he became President.

However, most organizations that have sustained success create an atmosphere where an organizational strategy is developed collaboratively, coaches coach, the GM oversees football operations, and ownership is supportive, not dictatorial or mercurial.

How to explain the Cards making the Super Bowl?  Perhaps the old idiom best sums it up, “Even a blind squirrel gets lucky once in awhile and finds a nut.”  Time will tell.

Don’t get me wrong, I want the Brown Family to hire a GM.  However, the GM should be empowered to make the football decisions with minimal interference from ownership.  This does not seem to be the case with the Cardinals.  If Bengal fans are to draw lessons from the Bidwill family, I will have to be convinced.