Name: Charles W. Bidwill, Sr.
Pro Career: 1933 – 1947
Team Affiliation(s): Chicago Cardinals
College: Loyola of Chicago
Induction Class: 1967, posthumously
Brief Bio: One of the pioneers and support beams for the young and struggling NFL, Charles Bidwill, Sr. proved to be instrumental in the league’s survival of the dark depression era. Bidwill bought the franchise rights for the Chicago Cardinals in 1933 and, although he never had a single financially successful year, was a moral supporter for the entire league. After the Great Depression and World War II, which forced his Cardinals to merge with the Pittsburgh Steelers for the 1944 season, Bidwill saw yet another obstacle for the NFL, the All-American Football Conference (AAFC) which brought yet another cross-town rival to Chicago (the Rockets) in addition to the already far superior and popular Bears. After fighting for public interest and players, it was Bidwill who actually dealt the AAFC its most devastating blow, and ultimately the triumph of the NFL. In 1947, Bidwill signed star college rusher Charley Trippi to an unprecedented $100,000 contract. Trippi was the final piece to Bidwill’s “Dream Backfield” that would go on to win the 1947 NFL title and a 1948 division title. As luck would have it, Bidwill died in April of 1947 and was never able to see the fruits of his labor or his beloved Cardinal’s greatest feats.
Featured Card: Pro Football Hall of Fame 5×7 Head Shot. As an early franchise owner, it is not a surprise that Charles Bidwill, Sr. is not featured on many cards. As an alternative, collectors can purchase a 5×7 headshot directly from the Pro Football Hall of Fame. If you would prefer to stick with standard cards, several junk wax era HOF-focused set featured Bidwill. Many of these cards can be found for $1 or less.
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