TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) _ Larry Fitzgerald has been an Arizona Cardinal all 12 of his NFL seasons, breaking every franchise receiving record along the way.
Now, he enters the final year of a two-year, $22 million contract, and he said Tuesday that he doesn’t even think about whether he will play football beyond this season, with the Cardinals or anyone else.
“We’re just in OTAs right now, man,” he said. “We’ve got training camp and minicamp and the regular season. We’ve got a long ways to go before that’s even a point of discussion. So I’m enjoying this. I’m trying to make it the best year yet.”
Fitzgerald will turn 33 before next season begins. And last season proved he remains one of the most prolific receivers in the NFL.
“I think Larry has a lot of tread left on the tire,” Cardinals offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin said. “Obviously he’s in the last year of his deal. That’s out of my pay scale. But obviously I think he’s still got juice in the system.”
Fitzgerald has been on what he called “a roller coaster” ride in his time with the Cardinals.
From those awful early teams, to the 2008 Super Bowl season, then to more losing and now to elite status again.
“Most guys don’t ever get the chance to see that kind of change,” Fitzgerald said. “Most guys get run out of town before then. But I’ve been very fortunate. It’s a two-way street. I wanted to be here and (Cardinals president) Michael Bidwill wanted me to be here. That’s something you don’t see happen very often, but I’m very thankful.”
Last season, Fitzgerald’s 109 receptions broke the franchise record he set a decade earlier. He topped 1,000 yards receiving in a season for the seventh time and was voted to his ninth Pro Bowl. Along the way, he became the youngest player (at 32 years, 97 days) to reach 1,000 career receptions.
Fitzgerald is the only active player _ and just the 10th player ever _ with 90-plus receiving touchdowns and 13,000-plus yards receiving in his career. In NFL career stats, he ranks 11th in TD catches (98), 11th in receptions (1,018) and 15th in yards receiving (13,366).
And he made the Cardinals’ biggest play of last season, an evasive, tackle-busting 75-yard catch-and-run that set up his five-yard TD catch _ on a shovel pass from Carson Palmer_ to beat Green Bay in the divisional playoffs.
It was part of an eight-catch, 176-yard day. Only Jerry Rice and Michael Irvin have had more 100-yard receiving games in the playoffs than Fitzgerald’s five.
But he said numbers don’t mean much at this point in his career.
“When you’re younger, you’re like `Man, I want to make it to the Pro Bowl,”’ Fitzgerald said. “Then you make it to the Pro Bowl and you say, `Now I just want to get a new deal.’ … As you get older, more mature, you start to accomplish more, your goals become more lofty. Now I really just want to win a championship and I want to get two rings _ get a Super Bowl and a Hall of Fame ring.”
Fitzgerald is a world-class traveler. He said several years ago that he’d stopped counting after visiting 95 countries.
But he cut back this offseason.
A long-awaited trip to Iran was called off because the flight would have gone through Brussels at the time of the terrorist bombing there. He had a couple of other trips booked, he said, but his 8-year-old son Devin talked him into staying.
“He said, `Dad you know what? You always travel right after the season and you miss so many of my (Little League) games. And I really like when you’re there,”’ Fitzgerald said. “When your kids lay it on thick like that, I was like `Man, I’m going to slow it down.”’
It was the least amount of travel he’s done in years, he said.
“Yeah, but my son the other day, he had two inside-the-park home runs and he turned a double play,” Fitzgerald said. “He caught a ball and doubled up the runner on second. He played his tail off and he’s looking at me the whole time. So I’m like, `I’m so happy I don’t miss these type of moments, because they grow so fast.”’
Notes: Coach Bruce Arians missed the practice because of the death of his mother-in-law. … The Cardinals will hold joint practices with the Chargers in San Diego in late August.