MIAMI (Reuters) – The Arizona Cardinals, who play in their first Super Bowl Sunday, are the oldest continuously run football franchise in the United States but their history has largely been one of fruitless failure.
Formed as the Morgan Athletic Club in Chicago's South Side in 1898, 22 years before the first fully-fledged professional league in the country and 69 years before the first Super Bowl, the Cardinals have been the runaways of American football.
Constantly leaving home, their initial move was to Normal Fields in Chicago -- prompting the team's oddest moniker 'The Normals' - and it was to be the first in a series of identity changes.
In 1901, the team became the smoother sounding Racine Cardinals and played in a local Chicago league, eventually becoming founder members of the American Professional Football League, forerunner of the NFL, in 1920.
Just two years later a team from Racine, Wisconsin joined the league and to avoid confusion, the Cardinals adopted the name the Chicago Cardinals and moved ground again, this time to Comiskey which they shared with the White Sox baseball team.
The Cardinals were national champions in 1925, based on their regular season performances as there was as yet no play-off system in place and they repeated the feat in 1947.
Curiously, two years earlier, due to the player shortages caused by the second world war, the team had played as a joint outfit with Sunday's Super Bowl opponents Pittsburgh, under the name 'Card-Pitt' and failing to win a game.
In the 1950's the team performed poorly and faced local competition from the Chicago Bears and at the end of a dismal decade, the franchise's owner, Violet Bidwell, opted to move the team to St.Louis.
For 28 years, the franchise existed as the St.Louis Cardinals but while they put down roots they managed just three post-season appearances, losing their play-off on each occasion.
In 1988, Bidwell's son Bill, who owns the franchise to this day, having failed to persuade the city to build a new stadium moved the team to Phoenix - where the new Phoenix Cardinals set up home at the Sun Devil Stadium on the campus of Arizona State University.
Six years later, the team changed to their current name in order to better reach out to fans across the state and then three years ago they switched home yet again, to their own stadium in Glendale.
The venue, name sponsored by the University of Phoenix, is an ultra-modern facility and Bidwell's son Michael, the team's president, says it has given the franchise the resources to build their current success with coach Ken Whisenhunt and his top-notch assistants.
"We had the resources to go out and spend those dollars. At Sun Devil Stadium, when we were operating there, it was half full, we didn't have naming rights, we only had 50 suites and they were in the upper deck and nobody wanted to buy them," said Bidwell.
"It was a really tough economic deal. We didn't have the revenue that a lot of other teams had and we were the only team in all four professional sports playing in a college stadium. So it was a challenge. It really wasn't about a desire, it was about the ability. It was very frustrating," he said.
Finally the Cardinals have their day in the limelight and their fans will be hoping it won't be 111 years until the next occasion.