In the midst of the media frenzy during Super Bowl XLIII, one thing—and one thing only—resonated with me. It was neither the vaunted defense of the Pittsburg Steelers nor was it the amazing, surreal postseason journey of the Arizona Cardinals. What struck me was the emotional story of Larry Fitzgerald and the untimely death of his mother. Being a momma’s boy, I felt terrible for Larry, especially given the circumstances around his mother’s death. Larry made a mistake when he allowed his relationship with his mother to become strained, however, I admired the way that he has matured since that time and how he acknowledged his fault in the estrangement. I’ve always had a respect for individuals—inside and outside of the sports world—who take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’, and that’s what Mr. Fitzgerald did.
Leading up to Super Bowl XLIII, Fitzgerald definitely had a heavy heart as he thought about his mother watching from heaven, and how special it would be for him to win it for her. As he ran 64-yards to the end zone and pushed the lead to 23-20 with about 2:37 left on the clock in the fourth quarter, I was pulling for the TD reception to be the defining moment in memory of his mother. Instead, in what couldn’t have been a more painful ending, Ben Roethlisberger drove the ball down the field and threw the game winning touchdown to Santonio Holmes as made a miraculous catch in the end zone. My heart sunk as I saw Larry Fitzgerald utter, “no, no, no,” as he watched the replay on the jumbotron.
Three years later, I again feel a degree of sympathy for Mr. Fitzgerald. No longer is there a strong passing attack with Kurt Warner, a formidable run game with Edgerrin James and Tim Hightower, or a stout enough defensive unit with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to lift the Arizona Cardinals back to where they were in 2009. Even though he signed the enormous 8-year, $128.5 (which I strongly opposed because I was not optimistic about the Cardinals’ future), its painful to watch Fitzgerald underperform in his prime because of the card he has been dealt.
As I watched the Cardinals play this past week, I came away with one thought: their offense is abjectly horrible. The offensive line is atrocious and Kevin Kolb, who was paid big money to perform, continues to look lost. John Skelton offers a glimmer of hope, but he is no Kurt Warner. Larry has done an admirable job in remaining professional throughout the search for quarterback consistentcy, but a recent quote has left a slight hint of frustration.
That quote just goes to show that he is indeed longing and often thinking about returning to the winning times that he experienced when Kurt Warner ran the show. Many of his fans also long for him to be a constant fixture in the playoffs, where he can demonstrate his abilities at the highest level.
I honestly don’t think that Larry will amplify his plea because, at the end of the day, he inked his name on the contract, and he has to live up to it. With that being said, I would like to see them eventually deal him to a contender. But that’s just me, and the Cardinals can decide whether or not to address Larry’s silent plea.