TEMPE, Ariz. — Larry Fitzgerald is going to field questions about his future all season. It’s nobody’s fault. Fitzgerald is in the last year of his contract, he’s about to turn 33 and he has already compiled Hall of Fame credentials.
It is a reporter’s job to ask the question on the off chance that Fitzgerald has come to an epiphany. On the flip side, it’s no surprise that he isn’t ready to commit.
“I have no idea,” Fitzgerald said Tuesday. “I really don’t look at it like that. I look at it day to day. I feel good every day waking up and going to practice and working. Last year, I was able to stay healthy and that just puts you in a different state of mind when you can get up and do everything that you’re capable of doing.
“We’re just in OTAs right now. We’ve got training camp, mini-camp, regular season. We’ve got a long way to go until that even has to be a point of discussion.”
Maybe you think Fitzgerald is playing coy. He is a savvy professional in his financial negotiations and he is sometimes crafted in his dealings with the media. I don’t think that’s the case here, however. I think Fitzgerald’s response is a product of the maturity and big-picture approach he takes to life.
Fitzgerald has traveled the world. He has listened to hundreds of alternate perspectives. He had helped distribute hearing aids in impoverished nations, and he will do it again in July when he travels to The Congo.
It’s not hyperbole to suggest those experiences change a man. It would be naïve to believe those experiences have not changed Fitzgerald.
“I don’t take myself that seriously,” he said. “It’s good for you to realize that you’re just a guy catching a ball — a pigskin ball. It’s a great living and good work if you can get it, but I’m not making the world a better place. There’s doctors out there and there’s teachers that are making far less that are making a much greater impact in our society.”
Fatherhood may also be changing Fitzgerald. His oldest son, Devin, just turned 8, and Apollo is 3. When Fitzgerald was planning his annual summer globetrotting, Devin took exception.
“He said ‘dad, you always travel after the season and you miss so many of my (baseball) games. I really like when you’re there,'” Fitzgerald said. “When your kids lay it on you thick like that… I was like, ‘man, you know what? I’m going to slow it down.'”
Instead of planned trips to Iran and other exotic venues, Fitzgerald took a couple quick trips to Mexico and one to Hawaii. That meant he was there when Devin cracked a pair of inside-the-park home runs and turned a double play.
“He’s looking at me the whole time so I’m so happy that I don’t miss these type of moments,” Fitzgerald told a throng of reporters. “They grow so fast. You guys all have kids. It’s like you blink. My 3-year-old now is having conversations with me. I’m looking at him and I’m like, ‘I remember I used to change your diaper and you’d pee on me.'”
With that wide-angle lens for perspective, and a 1,215-yard, 2015 season to buoy him, it’s no wonder that Fitzgerald is living in the now. There is enough there to draw his complete focus, including his football career.
“Motivation changes as you grow,” he said. “When you’re younger you’re like ‘man, I want to make it to the Pro Bowl.’ Then you make it to the Pro Bowl and you say ‘man I just want to get a new deal’ and then you’re like ‘man I want to get to the playoffs.’
“As you get older and more mature and you start to accomplish more, your goals become more lofty. I just want to win a championship and get two rings; get a Super Bowl ring and a Hall of Fame ring. That would be like getting your ice cream, cake and being able to eat it, too.”
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