If ever there was a player currently playing for or has played for the Arizona Cardinals that deserves the title of “Legend” then I believe that this guy is definitely a top candidate.
Drafted as the 3rd overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft after playing his college football at Pittsburgh, Larry Fitzgerald has, and will probably only ever have, played for the Arizona Cardinals in his professional career. Then Arizona head coach, Dennis Green, is said to have known the receiver from the days when he was a ball boy for the Minnesota Vikings.
It only took until his 2nd season, 2005, in the pro’s for him to be leading the way amongst the league’s wide receivers. He had 103 receptions for 1409 yards and 10TD’s that year and was named to his first Pro Bowl. After that great 2005 season, he had an injury hindered 2006 but still managed to record good numbers in receptions, yards and TD’s during his reduced playing time. He returned to outstanding form and the Pro Bowl in 2007 with nearly identical numbers to his first Pro Bowl season of 2005.
One of his best ever seasons came when he teamed up with a resurgent Kurt Warner in 2008 when the team went all the way to the Super Bowl, only to lose in a close scoring game, 27-23, to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
By now Larry Fitzgerald had the nickname, “Sticky Fingers” due to his ability to catch and this proved an apt nickname as he tied the NFL postseason record with 3TD’s in a single game and his 546 receiving yards on 30 receptions for 7TD’s is an NFL record for a single postseason during the Cardinals’ run to Super Bowl XLIII. During that Super Bowl game, he caught two touchdown passes as the team played well but went down 27-23. He again went to the Pro Bowl and would be named MVP of that game in this productive 2008 season.
His 2008 record-breaking postseason was revealed to be all the more impressive as it was made known afterwards that he had played through it with a broken thumb and torn cartilage in his left hand!
Post Super Bowl
After the Super Bowl season, he continued to impress through the 2009 season by catching more TD’s than he had in a regular season before with 13 and added 2 more in the NFC Wildcard game against the Green Bay Packers. They would go on to play the New Orleans Saints in the Divisional round of the 2009 playoffs (the game in which Kurt Warner was targeted and injured, ending his career) but lose and be eliminated from the running for that year.
His consistently high performances continued to earn him Pro Bowl selections throughout his career – 10 selections in 13 seasons, at time of writing – and before the 2011 season, he signed a whopping 8-year deal with the Cardinals worth $120million, making him the joint 5th highest paid player in the NFL.
He has managed to continue playing the Wide Receiver position at an exceptionally high level throughout his career and is a constant fixture at that position for the Pro Bowl games. He also manages to keep helping the Cardinals get to or be touted as an NFC playoff contender because with such a weapon on your offense you can never really be written off.
Despite the talk about him retiring, Larry Fitzgerald will be playing again during the 2017 NFL season.
This is good news for us UK and European-based NFL fans as we should get to see him play at Twickenham stadium against the LA Rams in their regular-season encounter.