On one hand, it feels like a lifetime ago that Larry Fitzgerald was dazzling Pitt football fans at Heinz Field.
On the other, can you believe he may be retiring already?!
That could be true. Larry Fitz has been gone for a dozen years. And he has spent them all in the brutally violent National Football League. And his 13th may be his last.
His lack of commitment towards playing beyond this year (with the Cardinals, or anywhere) has raised eyebrows in Arizona.
“Honestly, I have no idea,” Fitzgerald said (via ESPN.com) when asked if this season could be his last in pro football. “I really don’t look at it like that. I look at it just as day-to-day. I feel good every day waking up, going to practice, working. Last year, I was able to stay healthy, so that just puts you in a different state of mind that you can get up and do everything you’re capable of doing.”
Fitzgerald’s head coach, former Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, suggested that 2016 would likely be the receiver’s last if the Cardinals manage to win the Super Bowl. This is the last year of his contract after all. So in theory, if the Cards were to finally win the big game in February, he could go out on a Jerome Bettis-esque high
The numbers infer that Fitzgerald has a lot left in the tank. He exceeded 1200 yards receiving and tallied a career high 109 catches last season. But here’s a quote I found alarming, also from that same ESPN.com piece written by Josh Weinfuss.
Current offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin (another former Steelers assistant) called Fitzgerald “just as fast as Hines Ward” in his 13th year.
For the record…THAT WASN’T REALLY FAST! In fact it was really slow. We all saw it. We remember don’t we?
That year (2010) Ward posted career worst yardage, targets, and reception totals in his time as a starter. That is, of course, until he came back for year 14. Then they got even worse by far.
Ward was a tremendous player. But athletically on his best day Ward never could’ve held a candle to to Larry Fitz. That leads me to believe Goodwin’s comp is off a bit based on what Fitzgerald showed us last year. But if he is right, this should be Fitzgerald’s swan song.
It’s not often an elite talent like that comes through your town very often. So even when standouts like Tyler Boyd are here, you compare those players to the memories of guys like Fitzgerald on a daily basis, so his presence never really leaves.
For us in Pittsburgh, Fitzgerald’s two years here streaked through the sky like a comet. They went by really fast. But you remember it so clearly, it feels like you saw it yesterday.
Keep those Saturday afternoon memories vivid. Because, sadly, you may not have many more Sunday afternoon images to build on from Fitz moving forward.
// Header image: Larry Fitzgerald catches TD at 2009 Pro Bowl |
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael A. Lantron/RELEASED) | Public Domain