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In this Cardinals version of 'he said, he said,' only one thing is clear: It's ugly

Howard Balzer Avatar
April 19, 2023

Terry McDonough isn’t going away. That much is obvious.

Two weeks after the former personnel executive’s grievance against the Cardinals became public, McDonough continued his attack on owner Michael Bidwill in texts he sent to Doug Franz, the former host of the morning show on ArizonaSports 98.7.

That came one week after ProFootballTalk published a letter from Dec. 18, 2019, written to Bidwill by Ron Minegar, the team’s former executive vice president and COO, that gave credence to McDonough’s claims that Bidwill has lorded over a toxic workplace.

Minegar wrote, “You are not the guy I met back in 2000. You used to smile and laugh a lot. You used to be fun to be around. You were excited about the future and what it would mean for our organization. You worked your ass off and started to see the fruits of your labor.”

It continued, “I acknowledge that you have had to deal with a ton of issues this past year, but you come to work angry every day. You talk down to almost everyone. You’ve become arrogant and condescending. You need to get credit for everything when things are going well and are quick to point the finger at everyone else when we are struggling.”

He later wrote, “Our lack of sustained success combined with your daily anger is extremely frustrating and makes me feel like I’ve squandered 19 years of my career here.”

Part of McDonough’s claims were that Bidwill shut down a confidential employee survey in 2019 after he learned of negative things that were said.

The filing said, “Many of the employees who responded to the survey indicated that they were fearful of Bidwill on a daily basis, as a result of Bidwill’s erratic and often abusive interactions with them.”

In the Cardinals’ vitriolic response, they claimed, “The 2019 employee survey referenced in the complaint was not ignored but in fact formed the basis for significant enhancements to our workplace practices. That included creating a new role for a Chief People Officer along with boosting our Human Resources staff and adding robust employee wellness initiatives.”

However, Minegar’s letter supported McDonough’s version. It said, “Until recently, we didn’t really have a clue how our employees really feel about working here. Have we created an environment that eliminates barriers to success and motivates people to excellence? That changed when we got the first round of results from the employee engagement study. Sadly, we learned that a majority of our employees are working in fear. There are several factors, but much of this was directed at you based on the poor interaction they’ve had with you. … What was your reaction when you saw the preliminary responses? Instead of leaning into it and trying to change things for the better, you shut the study down.”

Since McDonough’s filing, more than one former club employee told me that many people who work for the team constantly “walk on eggshells.”

Minegar also said Bidwill had a vulgar response to an idea for selling season tickets.

He wrote, “You immediately zone in on the trip for two on the team charter as one of the proposed renewal incentives and dismiss it with a ‘We aren’t fucking going to do that.’ It was a preliminary idea that came out of a creative session. Your negativity sucks the life out of the entire process and erodes our collective resolve to work our asses off for you and this franchise. It’s not just me — everyone in this building is impacted by your constant negativity.”

He concluded, “I am sad for you and worried about you. You deserve to be happy, but you are miserable. You know it. The people around you feel it daily and it impacts them more than you understand.”

The Cardinals were asked to comment by ProFootballTalk and they sent a statement from external public relations advisor Jim McCarthy, who wrote, “The concerns you are describing from Mr. Minegar were later characterized by Mr. Minegar himself as misguided and were pulled back in a note of apology that he volunteered to our team’s owner. In that subsequent September 2022 note expressing regret Mr. Minegar wrote, ‘I’m way overdue … to express my sincere apologies for my attitude and behavior the last several years we worked together.’ He continued, ‘I am starting to understand what an angry, bitter man I had become. I sincerely regret how my actions and attitude impacted our relationship.’ The note continued that he had come to ‘realize how misguided I was’ and that ‘I am proud of the work we did together.’”

In response to that, Minegar wrote to ProFootballTalk, “I am disappointed that my private notes to Michael Bidwill have been pulled into the dispute between Michael and Terry. Moreover, I am saddened to learn that portions of the September 2022 correspondence have been used by the Cardinals to erroneously signal I was retracting the statements I made in my 2019 resignation letter. This is blatantly false and must be interpreted as an attempt to deflect criticism. I stand by the statements I made in my December 2019 letter and am willing to discuss with the involved parties as part of the NFL’s Arbitration Process.”

Minegar also told ProFootball Talk he recently had contact from Bidwill: “After not speaking to him since January of 2020, Michael Bidwill called me to discuss the private dispute between the Team and Terry McDonough. Michael indicated the arbitration claim filed with the NFL included one page of a three-page letter I handed to him in December of 2019 in which I outlined reasons why I felt we needed to discuss my resignation.

“During the call, Michael asked if I would allow the team to use portions of an e-mail I sent in September of 2022 in which I congratulated him on the halftime tribute they conducted in honor of his father. I also took the opportunity to apologize for my role in the deterioration of our relationship over the last several years of my employment. I wrote this very private note to Michael to ‘Make Amends’ as part of my program of sobriety which I have undertaken for the past 1000+ days.

“I told Michael that I would consider his request, but I would want the entire note to be utilized as opposed to just selecting snippets. I also requested that my entire resignation letter be used instead of just one page to provide proper context. Unfortunately, they opted to pick and choose segments of the letter in an attempt to put their position in a favorable light.”

Whew. Talk about a lot to unpack, which brings us back to McDonough’s texts to Franz, who is now the host of the Doug Franz Unplugged podcast.

There were several texts sent Monday and McDonough said he has 29 pages of factual evidence that detail how Bidwill treated employees:

“Bidwill’s days of owning the Cardinals will soon be coming to an end, and he has NOBODY to blame but himself and his horrific behavior toward so many people. And that is ON the record.”

“This was never about me. Someone had to put a stop to Bidwill’s cruel treatment of people. When I saw how he was trying to treat me, I knew it was time to speak up against him and for all the people he thought he could bully because he owned the team.”

“Do you have any idea of how heinous Michael Bidwill’s actions were toward Steve Wilks in 2018? Bidwill loved me right up until that point.”

“From (general manager Steve) Keim’s suspension on, everything changed. The only thing I did was let Bidwill know that I was going to expose him for his atrocious treatment of Steve Wilks. That’s why I suddenly disappeared. He couldn’t fire me because he knew I had him dead in his tracks, and that’s why he came out with all that BS about me last week.”

“His biggest mistake is this — he never thought he was going to be held accountable for his cruel and uncivilized behavior towards many people. His time of owning an NFL team is going to come to a quick and abrupt end whenever I speak and ESPECIALLY when Steve Wilks talks.”

On Tuesday, McDonough sent another text to Franz, repeating some of what he wrote Monday. Franz read it on his podcast, and this is the complete 568-word text:

“Unlike all the made-up BS (that he made up about me), I have the proof about him raging at pregnant ladies, other minorities, etc. Doug, if anyone knows my honor, it’s you. Look at how many times you tried to get me to speak over the years and wouldn’t. That’s called honoring your commitment to your team. I stayed in my lane and I did my job. All of you, or anyone, has to do is follow the evidence. 2014 to 2017, I was the VP of player personnel. In 2017, Keim sent an email to his best friend, Mike Bidwill. In that email, Keim said to his partner in crime Bidwill that I want to give Terry McDonough a four-year contract extension because he is a great leader and a huge asset to the team. Bidwill agreed with him and gave me a four-year contract extension in 2017.

“Then, in the summer of 2018, everything changed. None of this was ever even about me. What it is about is what Bidwill and Keim put Coach Wilks through for that entire season. The only way I can describe it is as cruel and inhumane. It started with Michael Bidwill so eloquently saying in his July of 2018 press conference we cannot speak to Steve Keim but we can think like him. Fake narrative. All the way to the last day of the 2018 calendar year when at Steve Wilks’ firing press conference, Bidwill said I just had to admit my mistake and move on. How profound a statement that was. At the time, he didn’t realize that he was actually speaking about himself with all the incredibly evil and racists truth come out about what Bidwill thought he could do to a tremendous person in Steve Wilks. When that happens, America is going to act in such a hostile way that the only thing that will be left for Michael Bidwill to do is simple. Admit his mistake and move on.

“It would have been tragic if Steve Wilks didn’t have a witness for that season. But I have had the distinct honor of working in the NFL for 30 years. Steve Wilks is as impressive a person, coach and leader as I have ever been around. Bidwill thought he could end Steve Wilks’ dreams before they ever got started. Bidwill is about to learn a valuable lesson about life that someone should have taught him a long time ago. In life, it’s not about what you are, it’s about who you are.

“On behalf of Steve Wilks and all the other people that Bidwill has screamed at in such a vicious manner, this is when the pregnant females and other minorities come in. I had to take a stand and I did. I stood up for a great man in Steve Wilks because he needed someone to step up against what Bidwill did to him and I did. Bidwill should have listened a lot closer to the voice text that I sent to him in April of 2019. Because unlike him, I like to tell the truth.

“I said to Bidwill if you think that you are going to ruin my career, I am going to expose you for the liar and the cheat that you are. All I’m about to do soon is honor my commitment that I made to him back in April of 2019.”

Amid all this, the Cardinals are hosting an “invite-only” special event Thursday that features an exclusive “First Look Into the 2023 Season” that is expected to include an unveiling of new uniforms.

Yes, it is on 4/20, so perhaps they hope enough people will be buzzed enough to briefly forget the swirling controversy as well as the team signing another two players to minimum-salary contracts. Or that Budda Baker surely won’t be one of the players showcasing the new look.

Don’t hesitate to comment or ask questions on Twitter @hbalzer721 or email me: howard@gophnx.com

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