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Former Cardinals executive Terry McDonough accuses owner Michael Bidwill of cheating

After Terry McDonough accused Michael Bidwill of cheating, discrimination and harassment, Mike Florio and Chris Simms explain why the Cardinals’ attack on McDonough’s character in response feels “vindictive.”

His team has been accused of being cheap. He’s now accused of being a cheat, among other things.

Via, former Cardinals executive Terry McDonough has accused Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill of “gross misconduct, including cheating, discrimination, and harassment” in an arbitration proceeding filed Tuesday with Commissioner Roger Goodell.

McDonough contends that he and former Cardinals coach Steve Wilks were instructed to use burner phones to communicate with former Cardinals G.M. Steve Keim during Keim’s five-week suspension in 2018 for extreme DUI.

McDonough contends that he still has the phone that was used. He says he objected to using the burner phone, but that his objection was overruled.

“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,” the arbitration filing contends. “Bidwill also subjected McDonough to bullying, mocking, harassing and abusive behavior.”

McDonough claims that Bidwill “created an environment of fear for minority employees.”

The Cardinals responded strongly to the accusations.

“We are reluctantly obliged to provide a public response along with broader context for some disappointing and irresponsible actions by Terry McDonough,” Jim McCarthy, an external public relations adviser to the Cardinals, told “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. 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.”

The team admits burner phones were used, but contend that Bidwill took “swift action” when becoming aware of it, directing that the phones be collected and the communications ceased.

McDonough claims his opportunities for advancement disappeared after he refused to go along with the burner-phone scam.

That could be the most that’s ever learned about the arbitration, until it ends. Goodell, or whoever he assigns to handle the arbitration, will likely require the parties to cease public commentary. The grievance will then play out secretly in a forum that is necessarily rigged in favor of the teams, since the teams employ and compensate the person ultimately responsible for the decision.

UPDATE 3:29 p.m. ET: The Cardinals have forwarded to PFT their full response to the allegations. It can be seen here.