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Bill Bidwill (1931–2019), Arizona Cardinals owner

Getty/Gary Williams

He was a leader in promoting diversity in NFL hiring

Bill Bidwill was the longtime owner of the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals. His father Charles was the owner of the Chicago Cardinals and Bill and his brother Charles Jr. took over the franchise in 1962, shortly after the team moved to St. Louis. He became the sole owner in 1972 and moved the team to their current location of Phoenix in 1988. The Cardinals have not been a very successful team, but they did reach the Super Bowl during the 2008 season, losing to the Steelers. Bidwill was a pioneer of diversity hiring in the NFL, hiring the first black female executive in league history, the first black contract negotiator, and the NFL’s first black head coach-general manager combination, Dennis Green and Rod Graves.

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Died: Wednesday, October 02, 2019 (Who else died on October 2?)

Details of death: Died at the age of 88.


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On the Arizona Cardinals reaching the playoffs for the first time in 1998: “I think I'm going to have to see it, or read about it, and then pinch myself to know that it happened.”  —From the Arizona Republic

What they said about him: “The NFL family lost a pioneer today. Bill Bidwill loved the Arizona Cardinals and the great State of Arizona. He paved the way for so many by being on the forefront of giving minorities the opportunity to thrive as coaches and executives in the NFL. He was also a man of quiet generosity giving of his time and resources to make lives better. I'll always remember the opportunity he gave me to live my dream in the NFL. Rest in peace, Mr. B.” —Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald

"Bill Bidwill was part of the NFL family his entire life, starting from his days as a ball boy through his time as an owner. Although never one to seek the spotlight, Bill had an incredible sense of humor and he made extraordinary contributions to the NFL. Bill's vision brought the Cardinals, the NFL and multiple Super Bowls to Arizona. He was a leader in embracing diversity and employed the first African American female executive, and the first African American general manager and head coach tandem. We extend our condolences to Bill's family and the Cardinals organization, which along with his faith, meant so much to him." —NFL commissioner Roger Goodell

Full obituary: The Arizona Republic

Related lives:

  • Pat Tillman (1976–2004), Arizona Cardinals player who gave up NFL career to serve in Army after 9/11
  • Pat Bowlen (1944–2019), Denver Broncos owner
  • Tom Benson (1927–2018), New Orleans Saints owner