Apr 5, 2023 - Sports

Ex-Cardinals VP alleges cheating and misconduct by Bidwill

Arizona Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill in February. Photo: Chris Coduto/Getty Images

Former Arizona Cardinals vice president of player personnel Terry McDonough is accusing team owner Michael Bidwill of ordering him to use "burner" phones in 2018 to communicate with the team's suspended general manager, among other alleged transgressions, ESPN first reported.

  • The team has denied McDonough's allegations.

Details: In an arbitration claim he filed Tuesday with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, McDonough alleged Bidwill ordered him and then-head coach Steve Wilks to maintain communications with general manager Steve Keim using burner cell phones, which they were both uncomfortable with. The filing states that McDonough is seeking damages for breach of contract, illegal retaliation and emotional distress.

  • He said Bidwill "cursed at, berated, and formally reprimanded" him for objecting to the order.
  • Per the filing, McDonough said Bidwill demoted demoted him twice, though his attorney, Michael Caspino, tells Axios Phoenix that he's still employed by the team.
  • McDonough said he still has the phone he used to communicate with Keim, and Caspino says that McDonough recorded many of the calls.

Catch up quick: The Cardinals suspended Keim for five weeks in 2018 after he pleaded guilty to an extreme DUI, which requires a blood-alcohol content of at least 0.15% — nearly twice the legal limit.

  • Under the terms of his suspension, Keim was barred from having contact with the team.

Zoom out: McDonough also accused Bidwill of mistreatment of a Black employee and two pregnant women who worked for the organization.

  • He said Bidwill's "abusive and bullying mistreatment" brought pregnant employees to tears.
  • The claim alleges that Bidwill "berated a young African American employee in a racially charged manner" over the way he parked his car, which Caspino said the employee later recounted for McDonough.

What they're saying: McDonough alleged in his arbitration claim, "Bidwill's widespread workplace misconduct is significantly worse than the misbehavior of former crosstown Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver."

The other side: Jim McCarthy, an outside public relations representative for the Cardinals, issued a statement calling McDonough's claims "wildly false, reckless, and an opportunistic ploy for financial gain" after the team informed him several weeks ago that his contract would not be renewed.

  • McCarthy said the team learned that another, unnamed employee had used burner phones to circumvent the protocols of Keim's suspension, and Bidwill took "swift action."
  • The team accused McDonough of insubordination, combative and inappropriate behavior and of surreptitiously recording interactions with colleagues, and alleged it found allegations of domestic violence in recent days.

Of note: Caspino denied the allegations in the Cardinals' response, telling Axios Phoenix, "The things they're saying are totally untrue and it shows you how desperate they are. We are going to arbitrate this case and the absolute truth will come out."

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