TAMPA, Fla. — Michael Bidwill took control of the moribund Arizona Cardinals in 2002, set on reversing decades of futility under the benignly neglectful ownership of his father, William.
Just as father and son couldn’t be more different in their managerial style, so has been the fortune of their football team.
Winners of just one playoff game in the previous 51 years, the Cardinals have won three in the last month to reach Super Bowl XLIII.
Michael Bidwill, 44, was described as a "tyrant” by two former National Football League executives familiar with the inner workings of the Arizona franchise.
"He’s a yeller and a screamer,” one of the executives said. "He intimidates people in the office. He has been known to dress down Rod Graves.”
Graves, the team’s general manager and a key front-office operative since 1997, credits Michael Bidwill with the resurgence in the desert.
"He was the agent of change,” Graves told the East Valley Tribune in Mesa, Ariz., recently. "I know a lot will be written and said about when the culture changed here, but in my opinion that’s when it started.”
Michael Bidwill, the second of five children, served as a federal prosecutor for six years in Phoenix before joining the family business in 1996. He effectively squeezed out his older brother, William Jr., who tried to learn the business after college and became a hard-working, solid member of the team’s scouting department from 1985-93.
Many agree that the catalyst for the Cardinals’ stunning success was the opening of University of Phoenix Stadium in 2006. The Cardinals had merely 12 sellouts in 18 years at Sun Devil Stadium after moving there from St.