The Arizona Cardinals have had 225 draft picks since moving from St. Louis in 1988. Adrian Wilson is arguably the best selection made by the franchise since then.
In his 12 years with the team, the N.C. State product recorded 893 tackles, 25.5 sacks, 27 interceptions, five Pro Bowl selections and helped lead the Red Birds to a Super Bowl.
The team announced Wilson’s release Friday morning.
Dave McGinnis, Wilson’s head coach from 2001-03, said taking a chance on him paid off from beginning for the club.
“Adrian Wilson was a man from the first time he stepped on campus there,” he told Arizona Sports 620’s Burns and Gambo Friday. “He was athletic enough when we first got him that we played him at corner. He had really sweet feet, he could cover and he was a freakish athlete.
“Some of the guys when they step on campus they have to grow into it, he was full grown when he got there.”
Wilson’s moved to safety in 2002 when Pat Tillman left the Cardinals to enlist in the U.S. Army.
McGinnis, now the defensive coordinator for the St. Louis Rams, said his hard-hitting style and dedication to a then struggling franchise made Wilson one of his preferred players to work with.
“A-Dub was one of my favorite guys because he was a tough guy. He was all about football,” he said. “He’s stayed there through several regime changes and he’s a loyal guy.”
The safety’s approach to the game was what made him such a valuable asset to the team, McGinnis said.
“He was all in, he was always all in. Whatever you needed him to do, he would do,” he said. “He was a guy that you could count on from first whistle to last whistle. He played extremely, extremely hard. He brought a physical presence to the game and took losing very hard, he took the game personal.
“To last twelve years in this league, to start and to play, you not only have to have something within you athletic ability wise, you have to have something internally that makes you a pro for that long.”
As one of only six players in league history with more than 25 sacks and 25 interceptions recorded, McGinnis said players like Wilson are hard to come by.
“There are about 1,700 guys in this league that get paid but there aren’t very many professionals,” he said. “Being a pro means a lot more things than just getting paid. A-Dub was a pro.”
“Was” may not be the right tense to use, as the coach thinks there is still plenty of tread left on Wilson’s tires.
“I don’t think he’s done,” he said. “No, no, no. I don’t think he’s done.
“If he wants to play some more, he deserves to play some more.”
As far as his career with the Red Birds, the coach said Wilson deserves to have his number 24 jersey raised up into the rafters in the future.
“He’s most deservedly to go up there,” McGinnis said. “He deserves all of the accolades that he gets there.”