Cardinals’ Larry Fitzgerald to speak at Phoenix tribute of John McCain

Aug 27, 2018, 11:32 AM | Updated: 10:18 pm

Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald will join other dignitaries to speak at late Arizona Senator John McCain’s Phoenix service on Thursday, McCain’s former campaign manager Rick Davis said Monday.

In his nearly decade-and-a-half of playing pro football in Arizona, Fitzgerald built a deep relationship with McCain, the long-time politician and Vietnam-era war icon who died at the age of 81 years old Saturday.

Just before Christmas of 2017, after McCain’s cancer diagnosis, Fitzgerald penned a letter about his admiration of the senator in Sports Illustrated. In it, he spoke of McCain’s heroism and how much it influenced his own travels and pursuit of learning history.

We should be a nation of fairness and equality. We should be a country with justice for all. One of the reasons I admire Senator McCain is that he doesn’t always just vote his party. He votes his conscience, and that can seem like a rare quality these days.

The Cardinals receiver wrote of visiting the lake where McCain, a Vietnam War pilot, was shot down. He said he thought of McCain’s years as a prisoner of war when he visited Vietnam, or World War II camps Dachau or Auschwitz.

I saw the very jail cell where he was held as a POW and I tried to imagine what it must have been like to be him. I took a photo of myself next to his flight suit, the suit he was wearing when he got shot down. So powerful. So meaningful. Those images will never leave my mind.

In recent years, McCain invited Fitzgerald to serve as a guest panelist at his global summit in Sedona, Ariz., near the senator’s home. Now, the receiver will again brush shoulders with respected acquaintances of McCain before Fitzgerald joins the Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium for his team’s preseason finale on Thursday against the Denver Broncos.

Former United States Vice President Joe Biden is also among those expected to honor McCain at North Phoenix Baptist Church at 10 a.m. Thursday.

Former Coyotes captain Shane Doan and former Diamondbacks outfielder Luis Gonzalez will be pallbearers at the service as well.

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