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Arizona Cardinals

Updated Apr 19, 2011 - 4:45 pm

Larry Fitzgerald is a different kind of leader

Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman, left, and Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald shake hands before an NFL preseason football game Saturday, Aug. 28, 2010, in Chicago.

We haven't yet really felt the impact of the NFL lockout.

Sure, free agency has not happened. And yes, any statement about the 2011 season is followed with the qualifier "if there is a 2011 season." But really, truly, we haven't yet really missed anything.

That will soon change.

Once the draft is over we will all start to see what we're missing, and like the fans, players will be missing things too - most specifically, paychecks.

Larry Fitzgerald, on Sports 620 KTAR's Gambo and Ash Tuesday, said he hopes the player's union will stand strong during this time, though he understands that lesser-compensated players may struggle more than a well-paid five-time Pro Bowler.

"For my young guys," Fitz said, mentioning Stephen Williams and Max Hall, "all the guys on my team, they know if they need anything all they've gotta do is pick up the phone, I'm going to be there for them to support them any way I can."

Talk about being there when you need him.

Sure, the general perception is that this NFL labor issue is about millionaires vs. billionaires, but truth is the majority of players don't fall into either category. While even the lowest-paid players make more than many of us, not having any income at any point can be a difficult situation to deal with.

Enter Fitzgerald, who says he feels any player who has the ability to help out the less-fortunate players almost has an obligation to do so.

"If you find it in your heart to help guys that are maybe behind the 8-ball," he said, "I mean, if you have the financial wherewithal to be able to do that, I think you should.

"I definitely would, that's just who I am though."

Granted, nobody should make Fitzgerald out to be a saint because of a willingness to help teammates out financially. He's banked a lot of money early in his career and is on the cusp of another deal, one that could make him the highest paid receiver in the game. Still, it would be easy for the guy to only think of himself, which is just the type of attitude the owners are hoping for in order to end this impasse on their terms.

If there are more Larry Fitzgeralds, though, that may not happen. Confident and taken care of, the players are more likely to hold out as long as they can, prolonging the lockout and delaying football.

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