NFL: Whisenhunt to coach Cardinals
Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 14, 2007
By Bob Baum
PHOENIX — Ken Whisenhunt helped the Pittsburgh Steelers and their young quarterback win a Super Bowl.
Now he will take over for the Arizona Cardinals, where another youngster is at the controls of the offense, but the franchise has made losing a way of life for a long, long time.
The Cardinals hired Whisenhunt, Pittsburgh’s offensive coordinator, on Sunday to replace head coach Dennis Green, who was fired after going 16-32 in three seasons.
The 44-year-old coach signed a four-year contract with a team option for a fifth, and is to be introduced at a news conference on Tuesday.
“In the end, we felt that Ken was the best fit for this organization,” said Rod Graves, Cardinals vice president for football operations, “and we felt that because of the leadership that he portrayed. He presented a well-organized and thorough plan moving forward. We liked it.”
Whisenhunt becomes the Cardinals’ eighth coach since the franchise moved to Arizona in 1988. He was one of eight candidates interviewed for the job, but one of only two who got a second interview. The other was former Green Bay Packers coach Mike Sherman.
He also interviewed for coaching jobs in Pittsburgh, Miami and Atlanta. Whisenhunt and fellow Pittsburgh assistant Russ Grimm had been considered leading candidates to replace Bill Cowher with the Steelers.
Whisenhunt’s second interview with Arizona began Friday and stretched into Saturday.
“It became apparent to us, particularly when we got into the second phase of our interview process, that Ken began to separate himself from the other candidates,” Graves said.
The new coach inherits plenty of young talent, including quarterback Matt Leinart and a pair of the top receivers in the NFL, Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald. However, he also joins a franchise with a legacy of losing unprecedented in this era of NFL parity.
The Cardinals have had one winning season — and one playoff appearance — since 1984. They have one playoff victory since winning the NFL championship in 1947.