Arizona Cardinals Training Facility The entrance to the Arizona Cardinals Training Facility is shown on Monday, Jan. 9, 2023. Cardinals Locker Room Cleanout

Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim was suspended for five weeks and $200,000 in 2018 following a DUI arrest.

However, according to an arbitration claim filed Tuesday by former Cardinals executive Terry McDonough, that punishment was essentially a PR move while Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill instructed McDonough and former head coach Steve Wilks to communicate with Keim via burner phones during the suspension.

McDonough told ESPN that he still has the phone and says that it contains evidence of the cheating scandal and other documentation.

The Cardinals organization sent a lengthy reply to ESPN about the claim, which was presented to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

“We are reluctantly obliged to provide a public response along with broader context for some disappointing and irresponsible actions by Terry McDonough,” said Jim McCarthy, external public relations adviser to the Cardinals. “Claims he has made in an arbitration filing are wildly false, reckless, and an opportunistic ploy for financial gain.

“Our position was consistent with many efforts we’ve made to accommodate Terry during his time with the team, despite difficulties in his personal life and his often volatile demeanor toward colleagues,” the statement from McCarthy said. “That’s why we are saddened to see that Terry is now lashing out at our organization with disparagements and threats that are absurdly at odds with the facts. This unnecessary and vindictive action by Terry was intended to malign his co-workers, our owner Michael Bidwill, and our team with outlandish accusations.”

As part of the filing, McDonough says that he and Wilks “objected to and sought to avoid participation in a scheme hatched by Bidwill to utilize burner phones to communicate with general manager Steve Keim — in violation of the terms of Keim’s suspension for extreme DUI — during a critical period of the Cardinals training camp in the summer of 2018.

“In response to McDonough’s objection to the illicit burner phone scheme, Bidwill cursed at, berated, and formally reprimanded McDonough, and ultimately demoted him — irrevocably damaging the trajectory of McDonough’s 34-year career in the National Football League. Bidwill also subjected McDonough to bullying, mocking, harassing, and abusive behavior.”

McDonough also accused Bidwill of sabotaging Wilks’ tenure as an NFL head coach. Wilks was fired after one season as head coach, one of many instances where a Black head coach has been fired after a season or two in the NFL.

The Cardinals have 20 days to respond to McDonough’s claims, at which time Goodell “shall determine whether the dispute is football-oriented … or not football-oriented” and whether or not the dispute heads to arbitration.

The NFL told ESPN on Tuesday “we can confirm receipt of the claim which will be handled under the league’s arbitration procedures.”


About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to