LeBron James, meet your opposite: Larry Fitzgerald

Aug 22, 2011, 1:54 AM | Updated: 2:55 am

Unless you live under a rock — or just don’t visit ArizonaSports.com enough — you have probably heard about Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald signing a new contract with the team that will not only lock him up for years to come, but also make him the highest-paid receiver in the NFL.

If you lived under that rock a year ago, you also probably didn’t hear about LeBron James and the Decision.

But I assume you’ve heard about both, so I have this to say: Larry Fitzgerald, thank you for not being LeBron.

Fitz had the opportunity to test his value in the free agency market after this season, much like LeBron did in Cleveland. Fitz had a chance to leave a mediocre team for a shot at a — supposed — dream team and a title, like LeBron. Fitz could have possibly become one of the most sought after free agents in recent memory, like LeBron.

But on Saturday, Fitz proved why he is nothing like LeBron.

He set a deadline to sign a new deal, stuck to it and took it when it was offered. Sure, it ensures that he’s set for life and the highest paid Cardinal in franchise history, but Fitz stuck to his word and ignored the temptation of an even larger paycheck.

Fitz also didn’t make a big deal out of receiving one of the most lucrative contracts in football. He stated how much he dislikes the business side of football during the press conference and, where most players would post a ridiculous blog about how they deserved the deal and it was all them, Fitz stuck to his demure and professional self, posting a mere 43 words.

Thank you to Mr. Michael Bidwell, the Bidwell family, Mr. Rod Graves, and my agent Mr. Eugene Parker, for getting a deal done before the start of the regular season.

Now we can keep focusing on winning games this season!

Faith Focus Finish!

That was all he had to say and that is the conduct of a professional.

This was not the Decision. This was how a professional re-ups with his team and does it with an aura of class that makes the face of a franchise. This was why NFL fans, not just Cardinals fans, respect Fitz.

Respect for a player is not about what happens on the field. It helps for a guy to make the big play and gain some fantasy points, but true respect for an athlete is created by his off-field personality. He kept his word to his team and fans and that will not soon be forgotten.

Yes, Fitz could put in for a trade as we haven’t heard whether or not he has a no-trade clause in the new deal, but I wouldn’t expect him to ask for one. He made a promise to Arizona and I expect him to keep it.

That’s a refreshing, albeit unfamiliar, feeling to have.

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LeBron James, meet your opposite: Larry Fitzgerald