Team president Michael Bidwill (left) is greeted by former Cardinals defensive lineman Michael Bankston.
Cardinals players from all different eras walked into the Gold Room at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel on Wednesday night. As they scanned the room upon arrival, their reactions were identical.
Hugs and smiles were plentiful as dozens of team alumni caught up at a benefits meeting and reception put on by the team.
"It's always good to come back and have that camaraderie, because it's a brotherhood when you play ball," said MarTay Jenkins, a Cardinals wide receiver from 1999-2002.
The Cardinals brought the players together to explain post-retirement benefits as well as update them on the state of the franchise. Team president Michael Bidwill spoke to the group and showed videos that detailed the franchise's history as well as its current state.
There was a reception after the presentation, where several players expressed their admiration for the recent success of the Cardinals and their current spot in the NFL hierarchy.
"They feel it in the community and they know what's going on," Bidwill said. "They're excited that we're really a dominant team, and we're going to continue to keep our foot on the gas."
Jenkins lives in the Valley and enjoys attending games with other former players. He has watched the team's rise closely.
"It's great," Jenkins said. "Especially when I was playing, we weren't doing so hot. It's good to see them have the support that they should have had a long time ago, between the fans, the stadium they deserve, and all the accolades they're getting right now. It's turned around tremendously, and it's good to see. It's good to see the transition from where we were to where they are right now. It's awesome."
Former running back Stump Mitchell, now the team's running backs coach, has had an up-close view of the transformation.
"The young guys just don't know how well they have it, because when we first came out here, we had to train at old East High School," Mitchell said. "We were practicing at 1 o'clock (p.m.). There was no bubble. We were sharing with Arizona State. The team, everything has just moved forward."
Mitchell said it's important that the alumni who laid the groundwork can enjoy this fruitful time.
"I know some of these guys remember the Cardinals one way, and for them to see the success we're having right now, they feel like they're a part of it," Mitchell said. "And they are."
Bidwill marks the third generation of his family running the team. Only four other NFL franchises can make that claim, and that deep-rooted history was evident as he connected with players from past years.
"It's great to see everybody," Bidwill said. "We're really excited about having all of the players back."
Former Cardinals players get together at an event at the Biltmore