Fitzgerald’s growth off the field

Posted by Darren Urban on November 18, 2011 – 8:35 am

Once upon a time, Larry Fitzgerald would run off the field as soon as the final second ticked off the clock. He would race to the locker room and shower before the head coach would even gather up his players for the post-game speech, and most times leave before the head coach was done with his post-game press conference with the media.

“If I did my job, I didn’t really have much to talk about,” Fitzgerald said.

Now, Fitzgerald often meets up with opposing players after the game is over. He is more deliberate in the locker room; he comes to the podium to talk to the media, win or lose, knowing he is — as superstar and a captain — one of the spokesmen for the team. It’s just one example of his transformation over the years, and while that part of it doesn’t necessarily impact on the field, it shows how Fitzgerald has developed as a leader and a teammate and why what once seemed improbable is now important.

Even Fitz will admit he didn’t want to be a leader when he first came into the league.

“The second year with coach Whiz, even late in that first year with him and that coaching staff in ’07, we won those last two games to finish 8-8 and that’s the first time … 8-8 wasn’t successful by any stretch of the imagination but it was better than before,” Fitzgerald said. “It really showed me when a team is playing together and is on the same page, great things can happen.

“The next year and went to the playoffs, and that’s where I really think I made my transformation, where it is bigger than you, what you are able to do week in and week out. If you are a good player and your team isn’t having success, it really doesn’t mean anything.”

Without that transformation, Fitzgerald doesn’t command the ridiculous contract he has now. A player making that kind of money has to bring more to the table than just excellent play, although that doesn’t hurt either — and as coach Ken Whisenhunt pointed out, it carries over in Fitzgerald’s leadership ability.

“I think that other players, when you see the production that he has, when you see the way he works on the field everyday, you have that natural leadership ability (and) Larry has gotten a lot better is bringing the younger guys along and talking to them and taking that type of role,” Whisenhunt said. “That’s an important part of building chemistry and camaraderie.

“When it is clutch time, you have to guys that you can count on, that, as they’d like to say, have each other’s backs. … When you think about those types of things, you can’t let Larry down. He’s made those plays, so we have to carry those standards. It goes a long way.”

Posted in Blog | 23 Comments »

23 Responses to “Fitzgerald’s growth off the field”

  1. By SierraVistaNick on Nov 18, 2011 | Reply

    Not to mention he is by definition a true role model. I think playing with Warner kinda rubbed off on him. Two of the greatest team players and role models I’ve seen in the league.

  2. By jonnyb on Nov 18, 2011 | Reply

    gota love the guy he is a class act go #11

  3. By cardsalltheway on Nov 18, 2011 | Reply

    Keep it up Johnny S, and Fitz, ya’ll can do it!

  4. By cardsalltheway on Nov 18, 2011 | Reply

    Ya’ll = Cards & Co.

  5. By rio on Nov 18, 2011 | Reply


  6. By Chad D. on Nov 18, 2011 | Reply

    Great read Darren, and I really enjoyed the piece on Washington too. Thanks for your efforts and keep it up brother.

  7. By Rugbymuffin on Nov 18, 2011 | Reply

    Good post Darren.

    LOL, I forgot all about those days when Larry would disappear after the game.

  8. By Darren Urban on Nov 18, 2011 | Reply

    Rugby —

    RE: Disappearing

    Ah, we haven’t. 🙂 And Fitz likes to bring it up too — he was dinged with a fine at one point, which he admits helped him see the light.

  9. By Rich on Nov 18, 2011 | Reply

    Fitz for President !

  10. By bob-O on Nov 18, 2011 | Reply

    God Bless that guy. BRING HIM SOME CHICOS TACOS TOO!!! ha ha ha

  11. By MIKE G on Nov 18, 2011 | Reply

    Hey Darren–To me what makes Fitz the best receiver in the NFL is not only his talent but his behavior off the field . He is a true pro. Sometimes these wide receivers have big egos and want the ball and put their personal statistics above the team. Darren–if Fitz is the best wideout — who would you place 2nd if you were to start a team???? Andre Johnson???

  12. By Darren Urban on Nov 18, 2011 | Reply

    Mike G —

    RE: Other good WRs

    I’ll leave that for others to debate. Guys like Andre Johnson and Calvin Johnson are pretty good failsafes, though.

  13. By LUKE on Nov 18, 2011 | Reply

    ive been a lifelong football fan and with the combination of his play and attitude,he is the best all around player i have ever is truly awesome to watch him play week in and week out.

  14. By bob-O on Nov 18, 2011 | Reply

    the fever might be broken. Cards, u CAN bring a veteran menality and energy and when u do u put on one hell of a smashmouth performance. get mean with it!!!!!HOOOOOT HOOOOOOT

  15. By D on Nov 18, 2011 | Reply


    I had a dream last night that the Cards sent this year’s #1 pick and next year’s 4th round pick to Denver for Von Miller.

    Then I woke up, but it would work out for both teams. (Denver will move Tebow to TE or scat back and draft a QB)

  16. By TucsonTim on Nov 18, 2011 | Reply

    Bradley…ribs? Are you kidding me?

  17. By clssylssy on Nov 18, 2011 | Reply

    It’s not too often that you hear sports commentators point out a player who embodies what it means to be elite, and it always give me a lot of pride that I hear this repeatedly with reference to Larry Fitzgerald. He, not only is an amazing athlete with a unique work ethic but humble, a great Captain and role model for our younger players. Throughout controversial times he has managed to be supportive of his fellow teammates without disrespecting his coaches or employers and has become the face of the Arizona Cardinals that everyone wants to hear from. That being said, I have often wondered why they have the QB give the pressor following the game when clearly, Fitz is more qualified. Is this just something that is a tradition? Kevin Kolb, being new to the system doesn’t seem that comfortable nor did Derick Anderson, and in a way, from a PR standpoint it seems like it would be better to let Fitz handle this. Do you know why this format is followed?

  18. By Darren Urban on Nov 18, 2011 | Reply

    Clssylssy –

    RE: QB presser

    Everyone always wants the QB. Hes the most important position. That’s all.

  19. By Eazy E on Nov 20, 2011 | Reply


    What are you talking about? Irish background??

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