- Associated Press - Monday, December 31, 2012

TEMPE, Ariz. — The Arizona Cardinals have fired coach Ken Whisenhunt after six seasons that included the long-suffering franchise’s only Super Bowl appearance.

The team also ousted general manager Rod Graves, who had been with the franchise for 16 years. He’d been general manager since 2007.

The housecleaning by Cardinals President Michael Bidwill, son of team owner Bill Bidwill, followed a season that saw the team start 4-0 but lose 11 of its last 12 to finish 5-11.

The 50-year-old Whisenhunt had more wins than any other coach in Cardinals history, going 45-51, 4-2 in the playoffs. He had a year worth about $5.5 million left on his contract.


Of the team’s three winning seasons the past 28 years, two came with Whisenhunt as coach.

The termination was announced in a brief midday news release, with Michael Bidwill scheduling a 3:30 p.m. MST news conference.

Those dismissed included assistant head coach/offensive line coach Russ Grimm, offensive coordinator Mike Miller, offensive quality control coach Chad Grimm, quarterbacks coach John McNulty, wide receivers coach Frank Reich and running backs coach Tommie Robinson. Tight ends coach Freddie Kitchens was the only coach on the offensive staff not fired.

None of the defensive coaches were dismissed.

Defensive coordinator Ray Horton is expected to interview for some of the many NFL head coaching vacancies. Despite its overall lack of success, the team finished among the league leaders in several defensive categories.

In a statement released by the team, Whisenhunt thanked the Bidwills for the opportunity.

“I’m very proud of what we as a team and as an organization achieved during that time,” he said. “Collectively we accomplished some very special and unprecedented things. That’s a testament to the dedication, hard work and talent of so many coaches, players and people throughout the organization.

“But we all understand this business and when you don’t win enough games changes are made. That doesn’t mean it’s easy but you definitely don’t have to look far to find people that have it much worse.”

Whisenhunt’s six seasons were tied for the longest tenure for a coach in the Cardinals‘ long, largely unsuccessful history

In his second year with the team, the Cardinals finished the regular season 9-7, then mounted a stunning run to the Super Bowl, beating Atlanta, Carolina and Philadelphia along the way. They lost a thriller to Pittsburgh 27-23 in the Super Bowl in Tampa.

The following season, Arizona won a franchise-record 10 games in the regular season and defeated Green Bay 51-45 in overtime in one of the most exciting playoff games of all time. But the New Orleans Saints pounded the Cardinals 45-14 the following week, and quarterback Kurt Warner decided to retire.

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