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Culture clash: Fitz to trade pads for baton

Larry Fitzgerald further diversifies personal portfolio with stint conducting Phoenix Symphony.

TEMPE, Ariz. -- If the Cardinals are looking for a new marketing campaign, they might consider a spoof on the immensely popular Dos Equis campaign: "The Most Interesting Man in the World."


They could cast wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald in the lead role and call it: "The Most Interesting Man in the NFL."


You already know Fitz as one of the NFL's greatest receivers. You already know about Fitz's global charity efforts. You already know about his photography passion. Now Sticky Fingers is trying his hand at another venture: classical music.


The Cardinals icon will conduct the National Anthem on Sept. 20 in what the Phoenix Symphony is calling "a once-in-a-lifetime performance, showcasing the best of sports and music" on opening night of its season.


"I'm definitely going to go out there and give it my best shot," Fitzgerald said. "I've been watching YouTube videos of conductors late into the night to see what they actually do. I don't want to make a fool of myself."


Fitz said he hasn't done any practicing with the Symphony, but a rehearsal is scheduled for Tuesday morning. He doesn't really know what his role will be yet, but he is no stranger to high culture.


"I've been to a lot of symphonies and operas, so I know the gist of it," he said. "But that's not the same as doing it. It's my first time. I want to make sure I know what I'm doing."


Fitzgerald said the Phoenix Symphony approached team president Michael Bidwill with the idea, and Bidwill came to Fitz.


"Everybody knows the Phoenix Symphony is one of the best in the country," Fitzgerald said. "It's a tremendous honor that they'd want me to be a part of it."


The feeling is mutual.


"We are grateful to have such a talented athlete and respected member of the community both on and off the field join us as we open our exciting season," said Jim Ward, CEO and President of The Phoenix Symphony. "Like many of us, Larry Fitzgerald realizes the importance of supporting all the great entertainment options Arizona has to offer from sports to the performing arts."


Following Fitzgerald's guest appearance on the podium, Opening Night continues with guest conductor Sarah Hicks and award-winning violinist Elena Urioste in a program that includes symphonic dances from "West Side Story", "The Overture to Candide" and Beethoven's "Violin Concerto".


As for his own part, Fitzgerald promised no theatrics.


"I don't want to be dramatic, because I don't want the attention on me," Fitzgerald said. "I want the focus to be on them. They're the professionals, and they're amazing at what they do. I'm lucky they'd want someone like me."