The NFL's oldest franchise actually predates the official formation of the league, as it is known today.
The Cardinals are the oldest professional football club in America. In his book "When Football Was Football: The Chicago Cardinals and the Birth of the NFL," (Triumph Books, 1999) author Joe Ziemba traces the team's roots back to Chicago in 1899.
The Chicago Cardinals were part of the 14 teams that, in 1920, made up the American Professional Football Association (APFA). Two years later, the team would be one of the charter franchises of the newly named National Football League .
Throughout most of its existence, the Cardinals franchise has been more of a league punch line than respected elder statesman. The team won two NFL championships, the last in 1947. The team reached its first Super Bowl during the 2008 season, losing Super Bowl XLIII to the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-23. Despite its long history, the team has made just eight playoff appearances.
The Cardinals have also struggled off the field. During the early days of the NFL, the team was always second fiddle in the Windy City to the more popular Chicago Bears. That would eventually lead the Cardinals to the first of several relocations.
In 1960, the Cardinals left Chicago for St. Louis. The move helped them sell more tickets, but it didn't translate into much success on the field . During their time in St. Louis, the team made the playoffs just three times (in 1974, 1975 and 1982).
In 1988, owner Bill Bidwill packed the team up and moved to the desert. The team was officially the 'Phoenix' Cardinals for six seasons, but renamed the Arizona Cardinals in 1994.
The Cardinals have enjoyed recent success in the desert under coach Ken Whisenhunt and with players such as quarterback Kurt Warner and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.
The Cardinals' less than stellar track record over the years proves that seniority is no guarantee for success.
The oldest franchise in the NFL remains one of 14 NFL teams to have never won a Super Bowl .
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