NFC West: Chet Bulger
Conzelman's brilliance as a coach shined through before and during the Cardinals' 28-21 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1947 NFL championship game. Conzelman initially refrained from reporting the Eagles for illegally filing down their cleats to better cope with the icy conditions at Comiskey Park. Conzelman instead reported the Eagles on a player-by-player basis, and only after Philadelphia had made significant gains. Officials wiped out the gains and penalized the Eagles, forcing players to leave the field to replace their equipment.
The Cardinals had addressed the footing issue by changing into sneakers before the game. Angsman scored twice on 70-yard runs. Trippi scored on a 44-yard run and 75-yard punt return.
Conzelman's resourcefulness reflected his varied background. His playing career included stints with Decatur, Rock Island, Milwaukee, Detroit and Providence. He had even owned the Lions for a couple of seasons in the 1920s, supposedly paying $100 for the franchise before returning it to the league. He retired as a player in 1930 and returned as a coach a decade later. But his record in three seasons with the Cardinals was only 8-22 when he stepped away following the 1942 season. The Cardinals brought back Conzelman four years later and he rewarded them by winning 27 of 37 games, counting playoffs and the only league title in franchise history.
The 1947 season produced tragedy in addition to triumph. A plane crash killed punter Jeff Burkett as he tried to rejoin the team following an appendicitis. Charles Bidwill, the team's owner since 1933, had died in April before the season.
Most impressive win: The 1947 team needed a victory over the Chicago Bears in the final regular-season game to win the Western Division title. The Cardinals picked off Bears quarterback Sid Luckman four times in the 30-21 victory, but the offense might have provided the most important contribution. Christman's touchdown pass to Dimancheff on the first play of the game set a winning tone for the Cardinals. Dimancheff had missed every practice during the week while tending to his expectant wife, preventing him from practicing a play Conzelman was eager to run. No matter. The Cardinals isolated Dimancheff against Bears linebacker Mike Holovak, a speed mismatch Dimancheff used to his advantage.
Free-spending Cardinals: The team landed Trippi before the season with a four-year contract worth a then-staggering $100,000. Trippi had been a Maxwell Award winner and Rose Bowl MVP at the University of Georgia, which retired his No. 62 jersey after a college career that later landed Trippi a spot on ESPN's list of 25 greatest college players. The move helped put the Cardinals over the top in 1947. Trippi ranked second on the team that season with 641 yards from scrimmage.
2008: The Cardinals came within a defensive stop of winning the Super Bowl against Pittsburgh after Kurt Warner found Larry Fitzgerald for the go-ahead touchdown pass late in the game. This team delighted in disproving skeptics and redefining an organization known for decades of futility.
1948: A defeat in the championship game prevented this Cardinals team from challenging and probably overtaking the 1947 team as the best in team history. The 1948 team went 11-1 during the regular season as Trippi became a bigger threat.
1975: Coach Don Coryell produced an 11-3 record thanks to an offense featuring Pro Bowl players in quarterback Jim Hart, receiver Mel Gray, running back Terry Metcalf, fullback Jim Otis and offensive linemen Dan Dierdorf and Conrad Dobler.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams hope to work out a long-term deal with franchise player Oshiomogho Atogwe. Contract negotiator Kevin Demoff: "With the newness of the front office and coaching staff changes, it was a really short time frame to work out a long-term deal."
Also from Thomas: Eugene Monroe or Jason Smith might be safer choices for the Rams than fellow offensive tackle Andre Smith, who served a suspsension when Alabama played in the Super Bowl.
The Associated Press says former Cardinals offensive lineman Chet Bulger has died at age 91. Bulger played for the Cardinals' 1947 championship team. He remained a fan of the team until his death. Bulger before the Super Bowl: "I'm still a Cardinal, always a Cardinal. I can't see too well anymore, but I'm going to get up real close to the TV to watch that game. Maybe we'll win that Super Bowl. Wouldn't that be something?"
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee offers 10 combine-related questions with an eye toward the 49ers. Barrows: "Receiver Michael Crabtree's camp already has said he will not run the 40. But two other receivers, Jeremy Maclin and Percy Harvin, have plenty to gain with a blazing time. Maclin right now is on the bubble as far as being a top 10 pick; Harvin could slide into the first half of the draft with a great combine. Who will be this year's Chris Johnson? The receivers will run on Sunday."
Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the 49ers are checking out offensive tackles at the combine. Maiocco: "While the 49ers need help at tackle, they might address that need during the free-agent signing period."
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Cardinals general manager Rod Graves met with Anquan Boldin's agent at the combine. The agent told Graves his client would be willing to work toward a long-term deal with the team.
Also from Somers: The Cardinals' search for a tight end isn't an easy one because the college game isn't producing many well-rounded players at the position.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says Graves wouldn't elaborate on talks with Boldin's agents, other than to say he felt positive following their meeting.
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times sizes up offensive tackles at the combine with an emphasis on the Seahawks' needs. Team president Tim Ruskell says the draft does not feature another Walter Jones.
Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune provides a transcript from Ruskell's meeting with reporters at the combine Thursday. Ruskell on a face-to-face meeting with Leroy Hill after the linebacker's recent arrest: "I would say, yeah, there was some emotion. It was very frank, and to his credit he was very frank. He was very sincere, and a lot of it was private. But that was why we brought him in. Part two was to have the new coaches get to know him, and have him to get to know the new coaches. We want Leroy to want to be here. And we had to hear from him, 'I want to be here.'"
John Morgan of Field Gulls reiterates his stance that the Seahawks could have replaced Hill with players already on their roster. The new coaching staff felt otherwise. We'll find out this season whether the new staff can help Hill become a Pro Bowl-caliber player.
Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer says Hill was the Seahawks' leading tackler before suffering an injury against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving.