Before the Cardinals reached a Super Bowl in 2008, or excited fans with a thrill-a-minute playoff run in 1998, or went all-or-nothing into a 2015 NFC championship game appearance, there were the "Cardiac Cards" of the mid-1970s.
And they were led by brilliant coach Don Coryell.
Coryell's legacy, creating new levels of offensive football for both the Cardinals and then the high-flying San Diego Chargers, was cemented Thursday night when he was included in the 2023 Pro Football Hall of Fame Class. It was announced at the NFL Honors ceremony held at the Phoenix Convention Center.
"Don Coryell was a leader, an innovator and truly deserving of enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame," Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill said. "His impact on the sport was profound, particularly in revolutionizing the passing game that is so prolific today. As head coach, he led one of the most successful and exciting periods of Cardinals football.
"Coach Coryell will always have a special place in our organization's history and now he will forever have a place in Canton among the game's all-time greats as well."
Coryell died in 2010 at the age of 85.
Among the offensive innovations Coryell is credited with developing or popularizing included one back in the backfield, screens passes to running backs, and pre-snap motion.
Coaching the Cardinals from 1973 through 1977, Coryell posted a 42-29-1 record and won at least 10 games (in 14-game seasons) three straight years, reaching the playoffs twice. They won the NFC East in back-to-back seasons of 1974 and 1975 and was named the Coach of the Year in 1974.
His offenses included Jim Hart at quarterback, an offensive line that allowed only eight sacks in 1975, and skill players Mel Grey, Jim Otis Pat Tilley, and Terry Metcalf.
Including his Chargers' years, Coryell's record was 111-83-1.
The Cardinals earned the "Cardiac Cards" moniker in 1975 after winning five games in the final minute. In 1976, eight of the 10 wins were by seven points or fewer.