As usual, Fitzgerald has no interest in an farewell tour
TEMPE, Ariz. — If his 15th NFL season is to be his last, don’t expect Larry Fitzgerald to tell anyone.
Not until long after the season is over.
“I told you this a long time ago,” he said after the Arizona Cardinals practiced Thursday. “There’s never going to be a farewell tour. It’s not about me. There’s 53 guys on this roster. There’s 53 guys who are giving their all to compete and make this team better, and coaches. It’s so much bigger than any one individual.”
It’s pretty much the same thing Fitzgerald has said each of the past few years when questions are raised about the inevitable end to one of the greatest careers of any wide receiver in NFL history.
“No game was ever won by one man and no game was ever lost by one man,” he said. “When you start thinking that it’s bigger than that and it’s about you, that’s when you’ve lost touch with what this game is all about and what the spirit of this game is about.”
Make no mistake about it. Fitzgerald knows all about where he stands statistically on the NFL career lists. The numbers do mean a lot to him. But he spends very little time talking about them. Maybe there will come a time, perhaps at that Hall of Fame induction ceremony. But for now, Fitzgerald is insisting he’s just one guy on a team.
When Sam Bradford tosses one in a regular-season game to Fitzgerald, he will become the 18th quarterback to complete a pass to No. 11 in the receiver’s years with Arizona. That is a lot of quarterbacks, to be sure.
“It’s a privilege,” Fitzgerald said. “Most guys don’t get a chance to play long enough to be able to catch the ball from that many quarterbacks. I look at it as a blessing and a testament to my longevity. Hopefully, we can go a whole season and not have to make any changes.”
Some of the quarterbacks are well known — including Hall of Famer Kurt Warner and recently retired Carson Palmer. There also was Brian St. Pierre, Max Hall and John Skelton, among many others.
Injuries led to in-season quarterback changes. So did poor quarterback play. But through it all, Fitzgerald usually catches whatever comes his way. He has caught a pass in 211 consecutive games, the second-longest such streak in NFL history behind Jerry Rice’s 274. Only once in his 218 career games did he not catch a pass.
Fitzgerald, who turns 35 on Aug. 31, is within striking distance of the No. 2 spot on two other significant career lists — receptions and yards receiving. He has 15,545 yards receiving and needs 390 to pass Terrell Owens into second (behind Rice’s 22,895) and, with 1,234 catches, needs 92 to pass Tony Gonzalez into second, behind Rice’s formidable 1,549.
If those numbers seem a stretch, consider that Fitzgerald was second in the NFL last season with 109 catches (tying his franchise record) for 1,156 yards. The past three years, between the ages of 32 and 34, Fitzgerald caught 325 passes.
Five years ago, with the hiring of coach Bruce Arians, Fitzgerald was moved from his customary wideout position to play in the slot, where blocking was a major part of his duties and he was among the best doing so at his position.
Now comes another new offense under coordinator Mike McCoy, an attack that looks to combine power running with a ball control game. In the first preseason game, Fitzgerald’s block was critical in springing David Johnson for a 14-yard gain.
Fitzgerald said he’s excited to see what this new system will do. He just wants to get started. First, there is Sunday night’s preseason game at Dallas.
“I’m ready for the preseason to be over with,” he said.
Like the other starters, Fitzgerald won’t play in the preseason finale against Denver. Now it’s all about staying healthy Sunday.
“I feel great. I just want to keep it that way,” he said. “That’s why I want the preseason to be over and the real season starts coming and the real checks start coming.”
Notes: Rookie QB Josh Rosen slammed the thumb on his throwing hand against a helmet in practice this week but coach Steve Wilks said that he still expects Rosen to play.