The game of football is arguably the most violent sport one can play. The emotions of the game run high and players are focused on the task at hand. Over the course of a 60-minute game, there will be highs and lows, especially in a tightly contested game. These highs and lows are highlighted even more during the playoffs. One bad play or one mishap can cost a team a season. Players take accountability if they are the ones to mess up. When most players succeed, they praise their teammates and coaching staff, which is the right thing to do. Superstar athletes aren’t always humble after a game in which they had a large impact. Larry Fitzgerald of the Arizona Cardinals is an elite talent that humbly gives the credit to his success to his teammates.
Saturday night, Fitzgerald and the Cardinals were in a battle with the Green Bay Packers to see who would advance to the NFC Championship game, one step closer to the Super Bowl. The game was filled with twists and turns that Hollywood couldn’t come up with for television shows or movies. A couple weeks back the Cardinals handled the Packers 38-8 and many thought this game would be much of the same. However, Aaron Rodgers and company had other ideas and fought literally to the very end.
After the Cardinals kicked a field goal to take a 20-13 lead with under two minutes left in regulation, one of the craziest endings to a football game occurred. The Packers were facing a 4th and 20 with their season on the line. Rodgers scrambled away from pressure in the end zone and heaved up a Hail Mary caught by wide receiver Jeff Janis for a 58-yard gain. Then with five seconds remaining, the final play of regulation happened when Rodgers yet again launched a ball, this time 42-yards, caught by none other than Janis in the end zone for the game-tying touchdown to force overtime. The Arizona faithful was stunned. The Cardinals won the coin toss in overtime, but not without a bit of controversy. The coin was flipped twice due to the first flip not rotating. Arizona won the second toss and made quick work of the overtime session. On the first play, quarterback Carson Palmer managed to escape the Green Bay Pressure, looked left and found Fitzgerald, who zigged and zagged his way 75-yards down the field to the Green Bay 5-yard line. Two plays later Palmer tossed a shovel pass to Fitzgerald for the game-winning touchdown, sending the Cardinals to the NFC Championship game against either the Seattle Seahawks or Carolina Panthers.
Fitzgerald had himself quite the game, catching eight passes for 176 yards and the game-winning touchdown. Highly impressive considering he only had one catch for six yards in the first half. He came up big in the second half and when his team needed him the most. He played the role of hero on Saturday night, but he was extremely humble after the game. In a post-game interview with ESPN’s Josina Anderson, he said “I just wanted to make a play for my team.” He then went on to say how happy and his teammates were for Palmer, who got his first career postseason victory a year after suffering a torn ACL. He then went on to praise his teammates for the job they did to help set up the sequence of plays that led to the victory. He then turned his attention to ESPN senior NFL Analyst Chris Mortensen, who announced Friday that he was diagnosed with stage IV throat cancer and would be taking a sabbatical. Fitzgerald had the following message to Mortensen,
“Mort, I want to tell you man, we’re thinking about you and fight baby. Love you, Mort.”
Now after such an exhilarating game that featured Fitzgerald as the hero of the night, he turned his attention away from the game and the success of the victory and showed his support for Mortensen. The presence of mind Fitzgerald had after a game of such high magnitude to acknowledge Mortensen and show his support says a lot about him as a man. It was such a selfless act and something that is very admirable. He exemplifies the true definition of what a role model should be.
His father is a sports writer for the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, so Fitzgerald knows first-hand how much hard work goes into being in the field of sports journalism. Fitzgerald established the “Carol Fitzgerald Memorial Fund” in honor of his late mother, who died in 2003 to breast cancer. This fund offers support to educating the urban youth about HIV/AIDS and breast cancer issues. Fitzgerald makes donations each October to various cancer organizations based on his production of touchdowns and receptions during the month. He also established the “Larry Fitzgerald First Down Fund” to help kids and their families by organizing and funding positive activities during the summer and throughout the year. It also helps kids and their families with medical assistance.
Fitzgerald is one of the most talented wide receivers to ever play in the NFL and is also one of the most selfless guys you will ever see. He has had a ton of success over his illustrious career, but he would rather praise others and show support of others going through rough or troubling times opposed to him talking about himself. For every young athlete out there or even any person out there, Larry Fitzgerald is someone you should aspire to be like as you get older.