No hit may resonate more to Adrian Wilson than the one Monday afternoon.
The hard-hitting, long-time leader of the secondary, addressed the media for the final time as an NFL player at the Arizona Cardinals team headquarters in Tempe.
“My whole life, all I’ve wanted to do was matter,” the five-time Pro Bowler tearfully explained after signing a one-day contract one day before the 14th anniversary of the team drafting him. “I will always be here as an Arizona Cardinal.”
I wouldn’t make sense any other way for a player who stayed true to the Cards when it wasn’t necessarily the “cool” thing to do during a long streak of mediocrity on the field.
He will be entering the Cardinals Ring of Honor at some point this season and may soon join the organization in some coaching capacity.
“A-Dub” as he’s affectionately called, finishes his NFL career with 987 tackles (716 solos), 25.5 sacks, 27 interceptions, 106 passes defensed, 15 forced fumbles, eight fumble recoveries and four touchdowns in 181 regular season games (162 starts).
“What he did for our organization as a teammate, as a player…brought so much,” President Michael Bidwill said. “Today is a great day. We couldn’t be more excited.”
The chiseled 6’3, 230-pounder, a third-round selection from North Carolina State, was first noticed by general manager Steve Keim when he was a staff member with the Wolf Pack and Wilson a raw, but developing player.
“He set the bar for this organization,” Keim explained. “When we send scouts out we say, ‘let’s find the next Adrian Wilson.’ He changed the culture here to where losing was not acceptable.”
Wilson and Hall of Famer Larry Wilson are the only two players in franchise history to appear in five Pro Bowls.
“Every single offensive coordinator in the NFL is off the hook today,” Wilson quipped. “#24 will not be destroying any more game plans.”