Nice guy Larry Fitzgerald says he respects opponents, the game
Larry Fitzgerald has been an Arizona Cardinal since 2004, and in the nearly 12 years since he was selected third overall in the draft out of Pittsburgh, has become not only one of the league’s best receivers, but an incredible ambassador for the team.
A nine-time Pro Bowler, one-time first-team All-Pro and the team’s career leader in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns, Fitzgerald will no doubt go down as one of the best players in franchise history.
He will also go down as one of its best people, though in an article by the Wall Street Journal’s Kevin Clark, it seems as though there is a perception around the league that Fitzgerald’s kindness, at least on the field, comes with ulterior motives.
Minnesota’s Captain Munnerlyn, sees the challenge in covering Fitzgerald having to do with more than just the receiver’s Hall-of-Fame level talent and great size.
“I cannot take the bait,” Munnerlyn said. “I’ve got to yell and get angry, I’ve got to get on him. I can’t let him be so nice that I can’t get into game mode.”
Clark also talked with Washington’s Will Blackmon on the subject of Fitzgerald’s niceness.
“He’s asking how your family is,” said Washington Redskins cornerback Will Blackmon. “And then he’s trying to bomb you for 70 yards right after.”
Atlanta’s Desmond Trufant has also felt victimized by Fitz.
“He played against my brothers for years, he knew my whole family, so he asked about that,” said Trufant. “There was all this casual talk. I was thrown off. I’m trying to focus and he’s being a real good dude.”
There are more quotes in the article, which was really well done, including some from retired corner Ike Taylor who pointed out that Fitzgerald has a knack for remembering details about everyone he meets and is one of the more respected players in the league.
However, in a sport where players are always looking for an edge, players like Blackmon believe part of Fitzgerald’s goal is to get his opponent to relax some and “then he’ll run and try to slam you.”
Is that true? Has his on-field personality aided him in collecting 1,018 receptions, 12,366 yards and 98 touchdowns in 186 regular season games, along with another 45 catches, 736 yards and nine scores in seven playoff matchups?
Maybe, but according to the 32-year-old, there is nothing sinister about how he approaches his opponents.
“You’ve known me a long time — I’m just one of the guys, honestly,” he said Wednesday. “Guys talk crazy to me; I don’t usually say anything. We’re just talking regular. I’m not trying to lure anybody to sleep. He’s got a job to do, I’ve got a job to do. I’m just professional about my job.
“I’m not trying to hurt anybody or do anything malicious, but at the end of the day, I’ve got a family to feed, just like he does, and we’re going to go out there and we’re going to give it our best, and the best man’s going to win. But, I think there’s a professionalism you can take to it, and I just try to be respectful of the game and be respectful of the players that play it, because this game was great before I got here and it’s going to be great after I leave. I just want to make sure I’m respectful of the game.”