ARIZONA CARDINALS

Larry Fitzgerald: Saturday HoF festivities a top-five experience

Aug 6, 2017, 2:21 PM | Updated: Aug 7, 2017, 4:48 pm
Former St. Louis Rams and Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner, left, greets Cardinals wide re...

Former St. Louis Rams and Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner, left, greets Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald before the Pro Football Hall of Fame NFL preseason game in Canton, Ohio, Thursday, Aug. 3, 2017. Warner is to be inducted into the Hall of Fame later this month. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

(AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Sunday morning following his team’s walk-through, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said he had not had a chance to watch Kurt Warner’s Hall of Fame speech.

“We were in meetings,” he said.

Larry Fitzgerald, on the other hand, was in Canton for the ceremony, being on hand to support a quarterback whom he played with from 2005 to 2009 and together helped change what it meant to be an Arizona Cardinal.

The receiver stayed in Ohio following Thursday’s Hall of Fame Game, missing practice Saturday so he could be present for Warner’s induction.

“It was great to be there and be able to support a good friend and mentor,” Fitzgerald said Sunday. “And the overall experience I had yesterday was top-five I’ve ever had.”

Fitzgerald said the chance to rub shoulders with other Hall of Famers, people who helped pave the way for today’s players, as well as get a more in-depth look at some of the game’s history was special.

Asked if there was any player he was hoping to meet, he said former Steelers great John Stallworth.

“Going to the University of Pittsburgh and hearing about him, the kind of man he is, getting a chance to finally meet him was really cool,” he said, noting he had previous opportunities to meet most of the rest of the greats who were in attendance.

Of course, Fitzgerald was there for a different reason, and that was to celebrate Warner, who was joined in induction by Jason Taylor, LaDanian Tomlinson, Terrell Davis, Morten Anderson, Kenny Easley and Jerry Jones.

Warner, whose 39 touchdown passes to Fitzgerald are the most of any quarterback to the receiver in franchise history, is someone Fitzgerald credits for helping him become the player he is today.

Fitzgerald said he did not spend too much time with Warner Saturday, though, because the quarterback had plenty going on and he did not want to get in the way. He did get a chance to catch up with him at a party Thursday night after the preseason game, and there had a chance to not only catch up with Warner, but his wife, Brenda, as well as many other family members he hadn’t seen in a while.

It was all courtesy of a story Fitzgerald said has never been seen before.

“His story is, I would say, one of the more unique I’ve ever heard, football players, anything in general,” he said of Warner’s bumpy road to Canton. “His road to get to where he was at was unbelievable.”

After graduating from Northern Iowa in 1994 Warner’s path saw him struggle to stick in the NFL, which led to him bagging groceries before heading to the Arena Football League and NFL Europe before finally lasting the 1998 campaign with the St. Louis Rams as their third quarterback.

He was slated to be the backup to free agent pickup Trent Green in 1999, but a knee injury suffered by Green in the preseason opened the door for Warner, with the rest being history.

Three trips to the Super Bowl, one Super Bowl title, two league MVPs and a host of other accomplishments later, Warner was immortalized Sunday as one of the best football players of all time.

His career just needed a bit more time than usual to get going.

“I remember asking the guys on the podium with him, the Hall of Famers, ‘Who never started in four years?’ and I remember them guys looking around like, ‘I started all four’ so I got a good kick out of that,” Fitzgerald said.

A self-proclaimed historian of the game, Fitzgerald said he has a great affinity for what the Hall of Fame represents. It’s not just about the NFL, remember, but rather professional football as a whole.

He is unsure of whether or not his understanding of the game’s history has helped him in his career, other than that he believes it probably gives him a greater appreciation of what he and his peers have accomplished.

“Because I know how difficult it is and how lucky you have to be to not only make it to the NFL, but to be able to stick,” he said. “A lot of things have to go your way and especially to be immortalized as one of the greatest to ever do it.”

In time, Fitzgerald will join the players he saw on stage Saturday.

At this point in his career, Fitzgerald is a virtual lock for Canton, with the only question being when his bust will be unveiled. He is about to enter his 14th NFL season and is already third all-time in receptions, ninth in history for receiving yards and eighth in receiving touchdowns.

Fitzgerald will first become eligible for the Hall of Fame five years after he retires, though he said Sunday even while watching others get inducted, he never really thought about what it would be like for him.

“I don’t ever think about that,” he said. “Obviously you hope and dream if the opportunity presents itself at some point, but it was more so just happy for the guys that you know.

“T.D. waited a long time, and obviously I’ve known LaDanian for a really long time and Jason Taylor and guys like that I’ve gotten to know over the years; so you’re just happy for them and their families. To be recognized as one of the greatest to ever do it is something special.”

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NFL team owner Jerry Jones poses with a bust of himself during an induction ceremony at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017, in Canton, Ohio. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar) Former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner delivers his speech during inductions at the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017, in Canton, Ohio. (AP Photo/David Richard) Former NFL quarter Kurt Warner, left, watches as his wife and presenter, Brenda Warner, kisses a bust of him before his speech during inductions at the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017, in Canton, Ohio. (AP Photo/David Richard) Former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner speaks next to a bust of him during inductions at the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017, in Canton, Ohio. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane) Former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner speaks next to a bust of him during inductions at the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017, in Canton, Ohio. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane) Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones wears custom shoes during inductions at the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017, in Canton, Ohio. The shoes were given to him by Phil Knight. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane) Former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner speaks next to a bust of him during inductions at the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017, in Canton, Ohio. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane) Former NFL player Morten Andersen delivers his speech during an induction ceremony at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017, in Canton, Ohio. (AP Photo/David Richard) Former NFL player Morten Andersen delivers his speech during an induction ceremony at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017, in Canton, Ohio. (AP Photo/David Richard) Jason Taylor, right, laughs with his presenter, former coach Jimmy Johnson, as they pose with Taylor's bust during inductions the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017,in Canton, Ohio. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar) Former NFL player Morten Andersen poses with his bust during inductions at the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017, in Canton, Ohio. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar) Former NFL player Morten Andersen, right, poses with a bust of himself and presenter and son Sebastian Andersen during an induction ceremony at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Saturday, August 5, 2017 in Canton, Ohio. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar) Former NFL placekicker Morten Andersen poses with his bust during inductions at the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017, in Canton, Ohio. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar) Former NFL player Terrell Davis speaks near a bust of himself during an induction ceremony at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017, in Canton, Ohio. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane) Terrell Davis kisses a bust of him before his speech during inductions at the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017, in Canton, Ohio. (AP Photo/David Richard) Former NFL player Terrell Davis salutes as he delivers his speech during an induction ceremony at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017, in Canton, Ohio. (AP Photo/David Richard) Terrell Davis poses with a bust of him during inductions at the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017, in Canton, Ohio. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar) Terrell Davis, right, poses with his bust and with presenter and agent Neil Schwartz, during inductions at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017, in Canton, Ohio. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar) Terrell Davis salutes his bust during inductions at the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017, in Canton, Ohio. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar) Terrell Davis kisses a bust of him during inductions at the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017, in Canton, Ohio. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar) LaDainian Tomlinson speaks next to a bust of him at the Pro Football Hall of Fame inductions Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017, in Canton, Ohio. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane) Terrell Davis, center, poses with a bust of himself and former Denver Bronco teammates, from left, John Elway, Willie Brown, Shannon Sharpe, andGary Zimmerman, during inductions at the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017, in Canton, Ohio. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar) LaDainian Tomlinson delivers his speech during inductions at the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017, in Canton, Ohio. (AP Photo/David Richard) LaDainian Tomlinson delivers his speech during inductions at the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017, in Canton, Ohio. (AP Photo/David Richard) LaDainian Tomlinson delivers his speech at the Pro Football Hall of Fame inductions Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017, in Canton, Ohio. (AP Photo/David Richard) Former NFL player LaDainian Tomlinson poses with a bust of himself during an induction ceremony at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017, in Canton, Ohio. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar) LaDainian Tomlinson, right, and presenter and former teammate Lorenzo Neal pose with a bust of Tomlinson during inductions at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017, in Canton, Ohio. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar) Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones speaks next to his bust during inductions at the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017, in Canton, Ohio. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar) Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones delivers his speech during inductions at the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017, in Canton, Ohio. (AP Photo/David Richard) Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones delivers his speech during inductions at the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017, in Canton, Ohio. (AP Photo/David Richard) Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones delivers his speech during inductions at the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017, in Canton, Ohio. (AP Photo/David Richard) Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones speaks next to a bust of him during inductions at the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017, in Canton, Ohio. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar) Former NFL player Kenny Easley speaks next a bust of himself during an induction ceremony at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017, in Canton, Ohio. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane) Kenny Easley delivers his speech during his induction at the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017, in Canton, Ohio. (AP Photo/David Richard) Kenny Easley delivers his speech during his induction at the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017, in Canton, Ohio. (AP Photo/David Richard) Kenny Easley poses with his but during an induction ceremony at the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017, in Canton, Ohio. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane) Former NFL player Kenny Easley, right, poses with his bust and his presenter and high school coach, Tommy Rhodes, during his induction at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017, in Canton, Ohio. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar) Kenny Easley, left, unveils his bust with his presenter. Tommy Rhodes. during inductions at the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, Aug.5, 2017, in Canton, Ohio. (AP Photo/David Richard) Jason Taylor speaks during his induction at the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017, in Canton, Ohio. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar) Former NFL player Kenny Easley poses with a bust of himself during an induction ceremony at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017, in Canton, Ohio. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane) Jason Taylor delivers his speech as he inducted  at the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017, in Canton, Ohio. (AP Photo/David Richard) Jason Taylor wipes a tear from his eye as he delivers his speech at his induction, at the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017, in Canton, Ohio. (AP Photo/David Richard) Former NFL player Jason Taylor poses with a bust of himself during an induction ceremony at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017, in Canton, Ohio. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar) Jason Taylor poses with his bust, during his induction at the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017, in Canton, Ohio. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar) Jason Taylor, right, poses with his bust and his presenter, former coach Jimmy Johnson, during inductions at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017 in Canton, Ohio. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar) Jason Taylor kisses a bust of him during inductions at the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017, in Canton, Ohio. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar) Paul Anka, front left, and Warren Buffet sing a parody of "I Did it My Way" to recently elected members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Kurt Warner, Terrell Davis, Morten Andersen, Jason Taylor, Jerry Jones, Kenny Easley and LaDainian Tomlinson, Friday, Aug. 4, 2017 in Canton, Ohio. (Bob Rossiter/The Canton Repository via AP) The 2017 Class of the Pro Football Hall of Fame pose during the Enshrinee's Gold Jacket Dinner, Friday, Aug. 4, 2017, in Canton, Ohio. From left to right, are: Kurt Warner, Terrell Davis, Jason Taylor, Jerry Jones, LaDainian Tomlinson, Morten Andersen and Kenny Easley. (Bob Rossiter/The Canton Repository via AP) Kenny Easley waves to the crowd after receiving his gold jacket during the Pro Football Hall of Fame dinner at Canton Memorial Civic Center in Canton, Ohio, Friday, Aug. 4, 2017. (Scott Heckel/The Canton Repository via AP) Morten Andersen waves to the crowd after receiving his gold jacket during the Pro Football Hall of Fame dinner at Canton Memorial Civic Center in Canton, Ohio, Friday, Aug. 4, 2017. (Scott Heckel/The Canton Repository via AP) Jason Taylor waves to the crowd after receiving his gold jacket during the Pro Football Hall of Fame Festival Enshrinees' Gold Jacket Dinner at the Canton Memorial Civic Center in Canton, Ohio, Friday, Aug. 4, 2017. (Scott Heckel/The Canton Repository via AP) Gene Jones helps her husband, Jerry Jones, with his gold jacket during the Pro Football Hall of Fame dinner at Canton Memorial Civic Center in Canton, Ohio, Friday, Aug. 4, 2017. (Scott Heckel/The Canton Repository via AP) Jerry Jones waves to the crowd after receiving his gold jacket during the Pro Football Hall of Fame Festival Enshrinees' Gold Jacket Dinner at the Canton Memorial Civic Center in Canton, Ohio, Friday, Aug. 4, 2017. (Scott Heckel/The Canton Repository via AP) LaDainian Tomlinson waves to the crowd after receiving his gold jacket during the Pro Football Hall of Fame dinner at Canton Memorial Civic Center in Canton, Ohio, Friday, Aug. 4, 2017. (Scott Heckel/The Canton Repository via AP) Terrell Davis waves to the crowd after receiving his gold jacket during the Pro Football Hall of Fame dinner at Canton Memorial Civic Center in Canton, Ohio, Friday, Aug. 4, 2017. (Scott Heckel/The Canton Repository via AP) Tears run down the face of LaDainian Tomlinson as he reacts to the crowd after receiving his gold jacket during the Pro Football Hall of Fame Festival Enshrinees' Gold Jacket Dinner at the Canton Memorial Civic Center in Canton, Ohio, Friday, Aug. 4, 2017. (Scott Heckel/The Canton Repository via AP) Brenda, left, and Kurt Warner wave to the crowd after Kurt received his gold jacket during the Pro Football Hall of Fame Festival Enshrinees' Gold Jacket Dinner at the Canton Memorial Civic Center in Canton, Ohio, Friday, Aug. 4, 2017. (Scott Heckel/The Canton Repository via AP) Mick Fanning, left, speaks to the crowd during his induction ceremony into the Surfers' Hall of Fame in Huntington Beach, Calif., Friday, Aug. 4, 2017. (Nick Agro/The Orange County Register via AP) Bethany Hamilton carves her name into the concrete in front of Huntington Surf and Sport as part of her induction into the Surfers' Hall of Fame in Huntington Beach, Calif., Friday, Aug. 4, 2017.  Hamilton lost her arm in a shark attack in 2003. (Nick Agro/The Orange County Register via AP) Bethany Hamilton prepares to leave her footprints in the concrete in front of Huntington Surf and Sport as part of her induction into the Surfers' Hall of Fame in Huntington Beach, Calif., Friday, Aug. 4, 2017.  Hamilton was bitten by a shark in 2003. (Nick Agro/The Orange County Register via AP) David Baker, president of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, applauds as LaDainian Tomlinson receives his gold jacket from his presenter, Lorenzo Neal, at the Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinees' dinner, Friday, Aug. 4, 2017, in Canton, Ohio. (Bob Rossiter/The Canton Repository via AP) NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, left, and David Baker, president of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, applaud as Kurt Warner receives his gold jacket from his wife and presenter, Brenda Warner, at the Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinees' dinner, Friday, Aug. 4, 2017, in Canton, Ohio. (Bob Rossiter/The Canton Repository via AP) NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, left, and David Baker, president of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, applaud as Terrell Davis receives his gold jacket from his presenter, Neil Schwartz, at the Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinees' dinner, Friday, Aug. 4, 2017, in Canton, Ohio. (Bob Rossiter/The Canton Repository via AP) Bethany Hamilton leaves her handprint in the concrete in front of Huntington Surf and Sport as part of her induction into the Surfers' Hall of Fame in Huntington Beach, Calif., Friday, Aug. 4, 2017. The surfer was bitten by a shark in 2003. (Nick Agro/The Orange County Register via AP) Pastor Sumo Sato helps host the induction ceremony for the Surfers' Hall of Fame in Huntington Beach, Calif., Friday, Aug. 4, 2017.  (Nick Agro/The Orange County Register via AP) NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, left, and David Baker, president of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, applaud as Jason Taylor receives his gold jacket from presenter, Jimmy Johnson, at the Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinees' dinner, Friday, Aug. 4, 2017, in Canton, Ohio. (Bob Rossiter/The Canton Repository via AP) NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, left, and David Baker, president of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, applaud as Morten Andersen receives his gold jacket from his son and presenter, Sebastian Andersen, at the Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinees' dinner, Friday, Aug. 4, 2017, in Canton, Ohio. (Bob Rossiter/The Canton Repository via AP) NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, left, and David Baker, president of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, applaud as Kenny Easley receives his gold jacket from his son Kendrick Easley at the Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinees' dinner, Friday, Aug. 4, 2017, in Canton, Ohio. (Bob Rossiter/The Canton Repository via AP) Surfers' Hall of Fame inductees Bethany Hamilton and Mick Fanning pose in Huntington Beach, Calif., Friday, Aug. 4, 2017. (Nick Agro/The Orange County Register via AP) Mick Fanning mugs to the cameras after leaving handprints at the Surfers' Hall of Fame in Huntington Beach, Calif., Friday, Aug. 4, 2017. (Nick Agro/The Orange County Register via AP)

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