Larry Fitzgerald is awesome. You probably already knew that but I’m telling you anyway.
Just short of 2 weeks ago it was announced the 11 time Pro-Bowler would be back with the Arizona Cardinals for his 15th season and it made me very happy. As a Steelers fan why should I care? Because there are some players in the NFL that are just a pure joy to watch and Larry Fitzgerald is one of them. Just take a minute to look at and appreciate his career statistics:
The average length of an NFL players career is approximately 3 and a half years. How has a man entering his 15th season managed to miss just 6 games out of a possible 224? How did a 34 year old receiver manage to tie his career high in receptions last season – not to mention the fact his last 3 years have seen his 3 highest reception totals? How has a man willing to make catches all over the field managed to stay so consistently brilliant for so long?
The stats alone are more than impressive, but what makes Larry Fitzgerald outstanding is that he has managed to record them when the list of quarterbacks who have thrown to him for multiple games consists of names like John Skelton (17 starts), Kevin Kolb (14), Drew Stanton (13), Ryan Lindley (4) and Max Hall (3 – I literally have no recollection of this man). I’m not taking anything away from these guys – they were starting quarterbacks in the NFL which is the dream for millions around the world – but they aren’t exactly Tom Brady or Peyton Manning or even Philip Rivers or Matt Stafford.
He holds pretty much every franchise receiving record for the Arizona Cardinals including the big 3 – career yards (15,545), receptions (1,234) and receiving TDs (110). He holds the NFL record for number of 90 reception seasons (9) and set post-season records for yards, receptions and TDs in a single season in 2008 (546, 30 and 8 respectively). He is also the only receiver to record 150 catches against 3 different franchises (Seahawks, Rams and 49ers)
It’s not just on the field that Fitz is so great. He has set up the Larry Fitzgerald First Down Fund to help children and families across America, funding positive activities, supporting kids and families in crisis, and supporting health-related organizations that work with families. In 2014 the Fund supplied Lenovo tablets to 5 schools in Minneapolis and 4 schools in Phoenix to help kids get the access to technology they deserve. They also made a donation to the Minneapolis Park and Recreations department to help refurbish a basketball court at Rev Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Park. The court received new hoops, poles, backboards and benches. He also partnered with Riddell to provide new helmets to 1,000 kids in the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation football programme.
He made trips to Africa, India, Thailand and the Philippines during the 2011, 2012 and 2014 off seasons to support economic development projects. He has worked with Starkey Hearing Foundation to provide hearing aids for children and adults in need in eight different countries. He has also made five USO tours to visit American soldiers overseas and has raised money for injured and critically ill members of the U.S. military.
The play that will always stand out for me is his 64 yard receiving TD in Super Bowl XLIII – as mentioned earlier I’m a Pittsburgh Steelers fan so was glad we were able to come away with the victory but the fear Fitz put me under throughout the game was justified in a single play. There aren’t many receivers that can turn a game on one play but this man can. And he can do it at any stage of any game – you can almost guarantee that every week on RedZone you will see a Larry Fitzgerald catch that will take your breath away. And he will do it with the biggest smile on his face.
Thank you, Larry, for constantly reminding me why I love this sport so much.
You can donate to the Larry Fitzgerald First Down Fund here