The 8 Best And 7 Worst Arizona Cardinals Players Since 2000

The 8 Best And 7 Worst Arizona Cardinals Players Since 2000





When most NFL fans think of the Arizona Cardinals, they often think of the the many years of losing seasons and the dry desert heat, but there is much more to the Cardinals franchise than meets the eye. Over the past decade, the Cardinals franchise has transformed itself from a perennial bottom feeder into a consistent playoff contender. The franchise has competed in a Super Bowl and two NFC Championship games in the past eight years. It’s a franchise that received very little fanfare in their first 15+ years in Arizona, mostly because of Arizona being a melting pot of transplants from other major cities (there are tons of Chicago and Green Bay fans everywhere in Arizona). However, since moving into their new stadium (University of Phoenix Stadium) in 2006, the Cardinals have sold out every single home game. In fact, there have been more false starts by opposing teams at the Cardinals’ stadium than any other stadium in the league since it opened (take that Seattle and Kansas City fans).

Regardless, the Cardinals have always been a very under the radar franchise in the NFL and it has caused some causal football fans to miss out on discovering truly great players that have played in Cardinal red and white. Like every franchise, however, there have been a handful of terrible players as well. This list looks at the 8 greatest and 7 worst Cardinals players since the year 2000. Some of these players make this list because of their on-field performance (or lack thereof), while others make the list because of the lasting impact they had on creating a winning franchise in the Arizona desert. (Note: David Johnson was considered for this list, but it’s still far too early to declare him one of the greatest players). Rise up, Red Sea and feel free to comment with your own suggestions of the 8 best and 7 worst Cardinals since 2000.  Enjoy.


It’s nearly impossible to have a discussion about the history of the Cardinals without paying homage to Pat Tillman. Although Tillman only played in the NFL from 1998 to 2001, he left a lasting impression and has become a beacon of pride for the franchise.  Tillman was a standout collegiate player at Arizona State University and continued his strong play at Sun Devil Stadium for the Cardinals, ultimately having his best season in 2000 when he finished with 144 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and an interception.

But Tillman brought way more to the table than stats could ever begin to show. He was the heart and soul of the defense. He was loyal, once turning down a multi-million dollar contract from the St. Louis Rams in order to stay in Arizona and play for the Cardinals. The terrorist attacks of 9/11 had a dramatic affect on Tillman and compelled him to turn down a $4 million contract extension from the Cardinals, to instead enlist in the Army Rangers. Sadly, Tillman was killed by friendly fire while serving in Afghanistan, but he will live on in Cardinals lore forever. In fact, he is enshrined in the team’s Ring of Honor and has a statue outside of the University of Phoenix Stadium.


Levi Brown’s legacy in the desert is best described as “that guy the Cardinals drafted instead of Adrian Peterson.” Yes, the Cardinals passed on Adrian Peterson, one of the greatest running backs of all-time, to instead draft Levi Brown, a highly touted offensive tackle out of Penn State, with the #5 overall pick in the 2007 draft. To his credit, Brown was named the starter as a rookie, but it was immediately apparent that he was not the future franchise left tackle the Cardinals thought he was. Tasked with protecting the quarterback’s blindside, Brown often just looked blind as opposing defensive linemen would frequently rush right past him in route to the quarterback.

Brown constantly drew the ire of Cardinal fans and the front-office nearly gave up on him in 2012 when they released him and forced him to resign for less money. Injuries and more unsteady play were enough for the Cardinals to finally move-on from their former top pick. In 2013, he was traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers for a late round draft pick. A change of scenery did nothing to revive Brown’s career and he hasn’t played since being released by the Steelers in 2014. “Big, Bad Levi Brown, the worst left tackle in the whole damn town.”


One of the most outspoken and entertaining personalities to ever play for the franchise, Darnell Dockett was also able to make a name for himself with his stellar play on the field.  After being drafted in the third round of the 2004 NFL Draft, Dockett remained relatively unknown until his breakout 2007 season, in which he recorded an eye-popping 9 sacks as the starting defensive tackle. Dockett finished his career with 40.5 sacks in his 10 healthy seasons. That’s supreme production from a middle of the pocket pass rusher.

What made Dockett so special was his ability to blow-up an offensive line and collapse the middle of the pocket. He was quick and played with aggression that often inspired his teammates to elevate their own games. Although Dockett was named to three Pro Bowls in his career, his shining moment as a Cardinal was his three sack performance in Super Bowl XLIII. He did sign a contract with the rival San Francisco 49ers, but never played a down for the team. Dockett eventually signed a one-day contract to retire as a Cardinal in 2016. It’s okay Darnell, you’re forgiven for your sin of signing with the 49ers.


Perhaps one of the most forgotten stars of the early 2000s, David Boston left his mark on the Cardinals franchise in more ways than one. Boston was a physical freak and his uber-athleticism and strength allowed him to dominant smaller cornerbacks in the NFL. In 2000, Boston’s second year in the league, he recorded his first 1,000 yard receiving season. He followed that up with 1,600 yards, 8 touchdowns, and a Pro Bowl selection in 2001. But Boston continued to cause headaches for the coaching staff with his antics on and off the field.

When his rookie contract expired after the 2002 season, the Cardinals tried desperately to re-sign their young star but Boston instead signed with the San Diego Chargers, stating that he wanted to play for a contender and that the Cardinals didn’t deserve a player of his caliber. Well, bye Felicia. After leaving the Cardinals, Boston was suspended by the NFL for multiple DUIs, assault charges, and failed drug test including cocaine, marijuana, and steroids. Let’s be honest though, the fact he was on steroids shouldn’t shock anybody; just look at Boston’s arms. Between he and Michael Pittman, the Cardinals looked more like a WWE tag-team pairing than an NFL offense.