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Former Cardinals Coach Vince Tobin Passes Away

Led franchise to first postseason win in 51 years

Vince Tobin coached the Cardinals from 1996 into the 2000 season.
Vince Tobin coached the Cardinals from 1996 into the 2000 season.

Vince Tobin, who coached the Cardinals to their first playoff win in 51 seasons during the 1998 season, died Monday morning at his Arizona home in Goodyear. He was 79.

Tobin was hired by then-owner Bill Bidwill in 1996 to replace Buddy Ryan. With his ever-present clipboard, Tobin was the antithesis of the boisterous Ryan, eventually taking his team on a wild ride in 1998.

With second-year quarterback Jake Plummer and a young defense populated by Hall of Fame cornerback Aeneas Williams, linebacker Jamir Miller, and defensive linemen Simeon Rice and Eric Swann, the Cardinals won the last three games of the season in dramatic fashion to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 1982 and for the first time since moving to Arizona.

Tobin's defense then throttled the Cowboys in Dallas, holding Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin and the powerful offense to just a touchdown in a 20-7 upset.

The Cardinals' journey ended a week later with a loss to the Vikings in Minnesota.

"Our deepest condolences go out to everyone who knew and loved Vince Tobin, and in particular his wife Kathy and their family," Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill said in a statement. "As head coach of the Cardinals, his steady leadership was a constant and a big part of the success the team enjoyed during his tenure. His football legacy with us is highlighted by the thrilling 1998 season, return to the postseason, and upset playoff win at Dallas. He will also be remembered for his instrumental role in key decisions like drafting Jake Plummer and Pat Tillman.

"More than that, he was a consummate family man and always a class act who positively impacted everyone he encountered."

After the team lost key personnel before the 1999 season and Plummer suffered injuries, the Cardinals fell 6-10 in 1999 and then Tobin was fired after a 2-5 start in 2000, replaced by defensive coordinator Dave McGinnis. His final record with the Cardinals was 28-43.

The native of Burlington Junction, Missouri, made his name as a successful defensive coordinator, first for the Philadelphia Stars in the USFL and then with the Bears and Colts in the NFL before being hired with the Cardinals. Coincidentally, his job with the Bears in 1986 was also to replace Ryan, who had been hired to be head coach for the Eagles.

Tobin's brother, Bill, served as GM of the Bears and Colts.

Vince Tobin was also the defensive coordinator for the Lions in 2001 and a special assistant with the Packers in 2004 before retiring.

"I'll be forever grateful for the confidence he instilled in me then and blessed daily by those lessons as I pursue life, purpose, and happiness," Plummer tweeted.

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