The Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals have been in existence since the team moved here from St. Louis in 1988.
In that time they have had 225 draft picks, but none more important than the third round pick they used in 2001 on a safety out of North Carolina State named Adrian Wilson.
At the time, the Cardinals were coming off of a 3-13 season and had put up just one winning season in their time in the desert. They were easily considered one of the worst organizations in professional sports.
Wilson could have easily bid his time in Arizona, accepted all the losing, and bid Arizona farewell when his rookie contract ended. But he wasn’t wired that way. He wanted to win and he wanted to win here.
Wilson believed he could change the perception of this organization, and he did. Not singlehandedly, he had plenty of help from future draft picks like Darnell Dockett, Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald, Karlos Dansby, Antrel Rolle and a few others. But Wilson was here first.
He had the greatest impact. He was the leader when those other players got here and because he was OK being here, they were OK being here. They changed the culture, they changed the perception, they changed the mentality. And in a five-year span from 2007-11, the Arizona Cardinals had only one losing season.
Many had a hand in making the Arizona Cardinals relevant, but none more so than #24.