1 down, 11 to go for Fitz?

Posted by Darren Urban on July 2, 2013 – 11:04 am

The University of Pittsburgh announced yesterday that it would be retiring the No. 1 jersey in honor of Larry Fitzgerald’s tenure as a Panther, a pretty remarkable achievement when you consider Fitz played just two seasons in college. (Because Fitz went to prep school for a year after high school to improve his grades, he was able to go to the NFL after his true sophomore season.) Fitzgerald was a beast in college. In his final Pitt season in 2003, despite playing for a Pitt team with limited weapons and drawing all the attention of every opponent, Fitz had 92 catches for 1,672 yards (for an 18.2 avg.) and 22 touchdowns. Guess being the No. 3 pick overall was kind of a no-brainer, even if it meant passing on some quarterbacks that turned out to be pretty good themselves.

No word in the announcement, by the way, when the jersey retiring will take place. (And, as a side note, when talking to Larry Fitzgerald Sr. last year for a Fitz story I was working on, he said his son thought about not going to Pitt but Michigan State. “He thought real hard,” Fitzgerald Sr. said, “because his girlfriend was there.”)

Anyway, Fitz’s number being retired usually brings up the secondary question: Would, somewhere down the road, the Cardinals retire No. 11? The answer is probably not. And it doesn’t have anything to do with how great Fitzgerald’s career ends up.

The Cardinals simply don’t retire many numbers. They put players in the Ring of Honor, which doesn’t take their jersey number off the market. Hall of Famers like Dan Dierdorf and Roger Wehrli are in the Ring of Honor yet their Nos. 72 and 22, respectively, have been worn often (of late, Brandon Keith and currently DE Everrette Thompson have had 72 and 22 has been worn by Duane Starks, Emmitt Smith and, today, CB Bryan McCann.)

The Cardinals have retired five jersey numbers since the organization started in 1898. Hall of Fame safety Larry Wilson (8), all-around star back and war hero Marshall Goldberg (99), safety/war hero Pat Tillman (40), and two players who died while on the roster, tight end J.V. Cain (88) and tackle Stan Mauldin (77). There are 13 people in the team’s Ring of Honor, including Wilson, Tillman and Goldberg but not Cain or Mauldin. That RoH number will rise when safety Adrian Wilson goes in, and I’d expect Fitz to be there someday as well. He just might not be able to take 11 with him, at least not permanently.


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Posted in Blog | 6 Comments »

6 Responses to “1 down, 11 to go for Fitz?”

  1. By tbru on Jul 2, 2013 | Reply

    The NFL simply does not have the flexibility that other sports have in regards to retiring numbers. With 53 men on active rosters and 90 bodies in camp, there simply are not enough numbers to go around. Unless a player completely changes an organization’s fate I can’t see too many players getting numbers retired, short of multiple Super Bowl wins. The Ring is a great way to honor players, without jerseys going into triple digits.

  2. By John The Draft Guy on Jul 2, 2013 | Reply

    With 29 football players being arrested from the end of the superbowl to now, it would be easy to get down on players.

    But Bidwill and the cards deserve credit for donating to the firefighters who lost their lives in the Yarnell fire. Such a tragic situation. It is good to see players and owners being people and part of a community. Great job to the players who went up and Great job Mr Bidwill for the 100K donation.

    I know Darren, you put out a lot of stories of guys doing the right thing. But that story is a little more touching for us in Az.

  3. By scott023 on Jul 2, 2013 | Reply

    This is the hardest part of life to go through, the loss of these great gaint protecters . These men gave it all to protect someone elses life. This fire was the most horrible that I can remember. I am so proud of Mr. Bidwell, Nicole and the cardinals that came to help in every way. I am proud to say that the cardinals stand by their community. I am sorry for the loss of all these firefighters, and I am sorry to families that have lost their homes. God Bless You All.

  4. By Cards4ever on Jul 2, 2013 | Reply

    Fitz tweeted a video of the Jersey retirement today. He said he wished his mother and father were there while choking up. I know his mother had passed but I wonder why his dad wasn’t there.

  5. By jakeplummersghost on Jul 3, 2013 | Reply

    Sorry Darren, but IMO Fitz will retire as possibly THE greatest Cardinal ever. They might not retire a lot of numbers, but Larry may end up the greatest player they’ve ever had. No one will end up wearing number 11 in Cardinal Red again, if he (hopefully) finishes his career here.

  6. By Eazy E on Jul 6, 2013 | Reply

    Are you kidding me? Fitz will easily be the greatest Cardinal ever and he better get #11 retired! #I don’t give a damn about that other crap

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