GLENDALE, Ariz. — The perspective of a veteran will generally be significantly different than that of a younger player.
So when Darnell Dockett talks about his longevity in the NFL, it’s worth listening to.
Especially when he’s incredibly entertaining and (jokingly) calls out teammate Larry Fitzgerald. Both are entering their 11th season in the NFL, all with the Cardinals.
Given how long careers last in the NFL, it would appear the window would be closing for each player. Dockett, though, said the window is always closing in the NFL, especially when you’re a defensive tackle.
Whenever he gets through a game or a practice without injury, he looks at it as a win.
“I take real advantage of that, I don’t take it for granted because I also understand anything can happen,” he said Friday. “I don’t look at it so far as the years-wise, I look at it as the opportunities. Every play is a play you can go down, especially at that position.
“Larry, different position, he plays wide receiver. I mean s*** you could play that s*** as long as you damn want. Jerry Rice played what, 18 years and s***? And Larry’s always in shape. Larry will probably be 20 years in the f****** league and go out there. He’ll never get hit, always falls down, and never gets tackled.”
Rice played 20 NFL seasons, but the point that it is easier to survive in the NFL as a receiver than a defensive lineman is valid.
Of course, it also helps that Fitzgerald hasn’t really made any enemies during his career, which is a claim Dockett cannot make for himself.
“Of course, you know that,” he said. “Get Pro Bowl votes and 600 receiving yards, be the starting wide receiver in the Pro Bowl. He’s the friendliest guy I’ve ever met in my life.”
Fitzgerald was asked about Dockett’s comments Saturday.
“He’s right though. Playing in the trenches where he is, it’s a true testament to him and his ability and work ethic the way he’s been able to play over these years,” Fitzgerald said. “Those trenches, it’s tough in there. Getting blocked, double-teamed, guy rolling around your legs; it’s tough in there.”
It’s a good point.
Since being selected out of Florida State in the third round of the 2004 NFL Draft, Dockett has played in all but two possible games. He’s accumulated 349 total tackles and 40.5 sacks, and while his production has waned a bit in recent years, he’s still one of the more important players on the team’s defense.
A three-time Pro Bowl selection, he has been one of the best defensive linemen in the NFL nearly from the start.
But the same can be said about Fitzgerald, who has caught 846 passes for 11,367 yards and 87 touchdowns. The receiver has been to the Pro Bowl eight times, including each of the last seven seasons.
“Outside, playing receiver it’s a little bit different,” he said with a smile. “My jersey doesn’t get as dirty, but he doesn’t have to do the running that I have to do, either.”
Fitzgerald said there’s no chance he’ll play 20 seasons, as Dockett suggested, but no matter how long either of them play, each player has had a profound impact on the franchise.
“Dockett is a big part of what we’ve been able to accomplish here, and still being able to play with him and playing at a high level, it feels good,” Fitzgerald said.