Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill accused of cheating, misconduct by ex-exec
Apr 4, 2023, 12:32 PM | Updated: 1:16 pm
(Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)
Former Arizona Cardinals vice president of player personnel Terry McDonough filed an arbitration claim on Tuesday that accuses team owner Michael Bidwill of gross misconduct including cheating, discrimination and harassment, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
The claim states that McDonough and former Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks “were left no choice” but to follow Bidwill’s directive to use burner phones to communicate with then-general manager Steve Keim, who was at the time suspended due to a DUI.
In a statement external public relations adviser to the Cardinals Jim McCarthy sent to Arizona Sports’ Tyler Drake, the team says the claims in the arbitration filing are “wildly false, reckless, and an opportunistic ploy for financial gain.”
“We are reluctantly obliged to provide a public response along with broader context for some disappointing and irresponsible actions by Terry McDonough,” McCarthy said.
“Our position was consistent with many efforts we’ve made to accommodate Terry during his time with the team, despite difficulties in his personal life and his often volatile demeanor toward colleagues,” the statement from McCarthy said. “That’s why we are saddened to see that Terry is now lashing out at our organization with disparagements and threats that are absurdly at odds with the facts. This unnecessary and vindictive action by Terry was intended to malign his co-workers, our owner Michael Bidwill, and our team with outlandish accusations.”
The statement adds that the team tried having McDonough work remotely following tardiness, disregard for team protocol and tense interactions with co-workers.
Read the full statement, here.
McDonough mentioned in his filing that Bidwill had treated a Black employee and two pregnant women poorly.
According to ESPN, it compared the owner’s misconduct as “significantly worse” than former Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver’s. Sarver was suspended for a year and fined by the NBA for workplace language and treatment of employees before he opted to sell the franchise to Mat Ishbia.
McDonough said in his filing that Bidwill … “created an environment of fear for minority employees,” the grievance said.
The Cardinals, citing a time when McDonough and Bidwill had met with free agent players, said that Bidwill had no racial animus and calling McDonough’s claim “a transparent smear that is truly beneath contempt.”
“It must be stressed that our owner’s long track record of fostering diversity and racial equity within our team and the League make this allegation especially despicable,” the Cardinals said in their statement.
The grievance also said Bidwill reduced two pregnant women — one five months pregnant, the other seven months — to tears after screaming at them with “abusive and bullying mistreatment.”
Arizona did divulge in its statement that another executive had interfered with the protocol of Keim’s suspension but added the team took additional measures to stop communication between the two sides.
The Cardinals suspended Keim for five weeks after he pleaded guilty to extreme DUI.
Keim was arrested in the early hours of July 4, 2018, on suspicion of DUI. His blood alcohol content registered at .19, according to the Chandler Police Department’s forensic report.
Keim was not allowed around the Cardinals facilities during his suspension and was prohibited from contacting team personnel. He was not able to return until he had “completed comprehensive counseling and evaluation programs as well as mandatory DUI education.”
The Cardinals went 3-13 in the season that followed Keim’s suspension and fired Wilks. The ousted head coach later joined a racial discrimination class action lawsuit against the league started by Brian Flores after Keim maintained his role with the team while Wilks was let go after one season on the job.
Keim departed the team this offseason to focus on his health after taking a leave mid-year and has been replaced by Monti Ossenfort.
McDonough spent 2014-18 as the Cardinals’ VP of player personnel but most recently was listed as a senior personnel executive, a demotion that was mentioned in the claim as being triggered by McDonough telling Bidwill he would not submit to breaking the rules.