Fitzgerald delivers important message, then meals to pros in coronavirus fight

Apr 30, 2020, 8:42 AM
Larry Fitzgerald poses with Banner University Medical Center health care workers after delivering m...
Larry Fitzgerald poses with Banner University Medical Center health care workers after delivering meals from Ocean 44, Steak 44 and Dominick's Steakhouse to them on Wednesday, April 29, 2020. (Photo courtesy Banner University Medical Center)
(Photo courtesy Banner University Medical Center)

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Strapped with a face mask, Larry Fitzgerald arrived at Ocean 44 in a relatively barren Old Town. The Arizona Cardinals receiver was happy to get out of the house for a good cause.

He met with reporters before loading his Tesla with meals from Ocean 44, plus sister establishments Steak 44 and Dominick’s Steakhouse. The 11-time Pro Bowler planned to deliver meals to health care workers at seven different stops Wednesday afternoon. Fitzgerald wanted to give back to those fighting coronavirus and putting their own health at risk while doing so.

As usual, Fitzgerald talked about his teammates — this time his friends in the restaurant business — for the idea and execution.

“When they talked to me about taking meals to some of our first responders and nurses and doctors and people who are on the front lines keeping our state safe, I thought it was a brilliant idea and I wanted to be a part of it,” Fitzgerald said, unsurprisingly deflecting any credit.

But this time, he gave a good reason to not take all the credit. More about that in a second.

Fitzgerald, like most people, has been staying at home with his kids, reading and helping them with homework.

The Cardinals began Zoom meetings on Monday, but the receiver was missing the in-person interactions with his teammates.

So he was excited to serve the community. By the end of the afternoon, he’d visit Honor Health Shea, Banner University Medical Center and the Mayo Clinic, plus several health care workers’ own homes.

“All we have is time, to be honest with you,” he said. “I felt like this is a much better use of time than sitting at home like I would be. I’m really happy that they came up with this idea, I’m really happy they included me in this.”

Jeff Mastro, co-owner of the three restaurants cooking up meals for the health care workers, said the hospitals chose which workers who went above and beyond would receive the meals. Among them was Lauren Leander, an RN who had volunteered to take 12-hour shifts in Banner’s COVID-19 unit.

Leander, the daughter of Suns TV host Tom Leander, was put under the spotlight this month for a different reason. She stood up for health care workers during a protest at the state capitol, which was calling for Arizona to re-open businesses despite the potential spread of the virus.

It was another example that people in all walks of life can make a difference in different ways.

“These guys at the hospitals are putting their lives on the line every day,” said Mastro of doing what he could to serve the community. “I mean, the amount of these first responders who have actually died from this is crazy around the country.”

Just minutes after Fitzgerald’s press conference with reporters, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey would extend but modify his “Stay Home, Stay Healthy, Stay Connected” executive order until May 15.

Fitzgerald loaded his car and headed off to make a few deserving peoples’ day. But not before speaking about how, during such unprecedented times, everyone’s role in the stopping the spread of the virus was as important as his.

This time, unlike the times when he scored the game-winning touchdown or made the momentum-swinging catch, he was right to deflect the credit.

“We all have a social responsibility to take care of each other,” he said. “Is it inconvenient? Absolutely, but is it for the better good? Absolutely. I think we all have to respect that and make sure we’re aware just of the impact each individual can have.”

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Fitzgerald delivers important message, then meals to pros in coronavirus fight