Number 17 is number 17.
Former St. Louis quarterback Jim Hart will become the 17th member of the Cardinals Ring of Honor. It hasn’t been determined just when Hart’s ceremony will take place during the 2017 season, but the franchise’s all-time leader in quarterback wins, passing yards and touchdowns will have his name included with the best Cardinals ever.
Hart took his last snap for the Cardinals in 1983, five years before the team moved from St. Louis to Arizona, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a healthy amount of respect that lingers for the man who spent 18 years in red and white.
Hart joined Doug and Wolf Friday morning on 98.7 FM, Arizona’s Sports Station and during the interview, current Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer called in to extend his admiration.
“I just want to say congratulations,” Palmer started. “Being a former player and doing what you did for so long — it’s unfathomable to be honest. I’m going into year 15 and to think that you played 18. You started almost 300 games and just the statistics that you amassed over the years, it’s truly amazing and I owe you a debt of gratitude being a current player and a current quarterback. It’s an honor to be a quarterback for this organization because of players like you.
“It’s truly amazing what you did and I’m in awe of it.”
Humbled, Hart thanked Palmer for the gesture, then quickly became envious of what Arizona’s current quarterback has to work with.
“Oh, I would have loved to have thrown to Larry Fitzgerald,” Hart joked. “He’s so tall. My receivers were 5-9 and 5-10. I’m not begrudging them, that’s just the way God made them, and they were super guys and they played their hearts out.”
Palmer was astounded that Hart lasted as long as he did in an era where football was much different, meaning more physical with no rules that really protected quarterbacks. And as Palmer pointed out, Hart played a good portion of his career on Busch Stadium’s unforgiving AstroTurf surface.
“The rules were different,” Hart said as he got into storytelling mode. “I can recall a game against Kansas City and I enjoyed pulling guys offside. I pulled the defensive tackle, whose name was Marvin Upshaw, I pulled him across the line of scrimmage and he just stepped between the guard and the center and smacked me right upside the head with his fist.
“I saw stars and I kind of wobbled a little bit. The referee comes up and blows his whistle and said ‘OK, let’s go.’ And I said ‘hey, wait a minute, I’ve got stars here. I’m out on my feet.’
“‘Oh, that didn’t hurt,’ he said. ‘Get back in the huddle.'”
Hart could only laugh when he compared incidents of his era to the protection quarterbacks get these days.
“Give me a break,” he said. “That would have been a 15-yarder today.”
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