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NFL Team Gave Ex-Head Coach a Burner Phone to Communicate With Suspended GM

Photo: Garrett Ellwood

Former Arizona Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks corroborated a claim that he was given a burner phone to communicate with then-general manager Steve Keim during Keim's suspension.

Wilks, who has his own lawsuit against the Cardinals alleging racial bias in his termination, testified in relation to a lawsuit filed by former vice president of personnel Terry McDonough against team owner Michael Bidwill and the NFL franchise last Friday (August 25) and claimed that he was ordered to use a burner phone to communicate with Keim and Bidwill while the former general manager was suspended for drunk driving. McDonough had previous made the same accusation against Bidwilll and Keim as part of his lawsuit, which also accuses the franchise of cheating, discrimination and harassment.

"It was a directive from Keim as well as Bidwill," Wilks said in the deposition obtained by ESPN on Wednesday (August 30).

The alleged communication took place as the Cardinals negotiated a three-year, $39 million contract extension with running back David Johnson in 2018. Bidwill had previously denounced the accusations as "outlandish" prior to Wilks' testimony and an attorney representing the team claimed that Wilks' attorney prohibited cross-examination during the deposition.

"As much as we would like to share the truth of what transpired, the confidentiality order in place prohibits us from doing so," the Cardinals said in a statement to ESPN.

The deposition was not admitted into the record as Wilks had not yet been cross-examined by the Cardinals' attorneys, according to identical statements shared with ESPN by both the franchise and an attorney representing McDonough.

Wilks, who was named defensive coordinator of the San Francisco 49ers this offseason, was fired by the Cardinals after just one season as head coach in 2018. The 54-year-old went 3-13 during his lone season with the franchise and 6-6 as an interim head coach for the Carolina Panthers last season.

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