Today I’m featuring the Larry Fitzgerald jersey for two reasons.
1) The man is a shoo-in Hall of Famer.
2) In the age of free agency, Fitz has played for one team (the Arizona Cardinals) in his career.
While Fitz is on the back end of his career and has declared he would be back for 2019, he is by far the most popular player to ever suit up for the Cardinals next to Pat Tillman, who is the undisputed number one in the eyes of many.
Fitzgerald is one of the most accomplished receivers of all time, amassing over 1,300 receptions in his 15+ year career along with 11 Pro Bowls, 3 All-Pros, and as of the end of the 2018 season, is 2nd all time in receiving yards, 3rd in career receptions, and 7th in receiving touchdowns.
Despite his accomplishments, Fitz has never won a Super Bowl and has spent at least half of his career playing with sub par talent both around him and at quarterback.
Fitzgerald played for the University of Pittsburgh for two seasons, both of which he was considered one of the best, if not the best, wide receivers in college football. He became an immediate contributor to the Panthers, leading the then-Big East with 69 receptions, 1,005 yards, and 12 touchdowns.
Despite a hot freshman season, Fitzgerald’s sophomore campaign was something of legend. In 13 games, he had 92 receptions, 1,672 yards, and an astounding 22 touchdowns.
Many felt Fitzgerald would become the first sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy and while he definitely made his case, Jason White became the eventual winner.
This didn’t spoil Fitzgerald’s career, however, as he became the first receiver from the University of Pittsburgh with back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons, collecting 161 receptions for 2,677 receiving yards. He also set a new Pitt record with 34 receiving touchdowns. He broke former Pitt alum Antonio Bryant’s record of 13 games of 100+ receiving yards, and had 18 straight games with at least one touchdown reception.
Fitzgerald also won the Walter Camp Award, and the Biletnikoff Award, as well as a 2003 unanimous All-American.
His #1 jersey was also retired, making him the ninth Pitt Panther to receive such an honor.
Fitzgerald, who never redshirted at Pitt, petitioned the NFL to allow him to enter the 2004 NFL Draft, which he later won, citing a year at the Valley Forge Military Academy before moving on to Pitt to be a third year removed from high school. The Arizona Cardinals selected Fitzgerald with the 3rd overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft and his career took off from the start.
During his rookie season, Fitzgerald became the youngest player with two receiving touchdowns in a single game, a record that has since been broken. He finished the season with 58 receptions for 8 touchdowns.
In his second season, Fitzgerald led the NFL with 103 receptions and made his first Pro Bowl. He and teammate Anquan Boldin became the first receiving duo since Herman Moore and Brett Perriman of the Detroit Lions to collect 100+ receptions each in a single season.
Fitzgerald was also named to his first Pro Bowl in 2005.
After a sub par 2006 season, he rebounded with a 100 reception and 1,400+ yard season in 2007, starting off an annual trip to the Pro Bowl for the next seven seasons.
He repeated his success in 2008 with 96 receptions and a career-high 1,431-yard season in 2008, where his Arizona Cardinals made their first Super Bowl in a losing effort to the Pittsburgh Steelers. He was named Pro Bowl MVP in 2008.
2009 saw Fitzgerald set a career high in touchdown receptions with 13 in a single season breaking his previous record of 12 that he set in 2008. He also totaled 97 receptions in 2009.
While his reception total dropped to 80 in 2011, Fitzgerald set a career-high in Yards Per Reception, with 17.6 on 1,411 receiving yards.
The next three seasons saw Fitzgerald collect 71, 82, and 63 receptions in 2012, 2013, and 2014, the year his Pro Bowl streak snapped. However, he did set a career-high in longest career reception, which went for 80 yards and a touchdown, despite only recording two touchdowns in 2014.
Fitzgerald’s 2014 season led many to speculate that he was on the downside of his career, but that was not so, as he turned around with a career-high in receptions in 2015 with 109, at the age of 32. He tied this record in 2017 after amassing 107 receptions in 2016. In fact, 2015-2017 marked Fitzgerald’s highest reception totals over a three-year span.
In 2018, along with the Cardinals’ struggles on offense, Fitzgerald’s reception total dropped to 69 while recording 6 touchdown grabs for the third straight season, missing out on the Pro Bowl for the fourth time in his career.
You can view Larry Fitzgerald’s career statistics in detail here.
Fitzgerald has set several accomplishments, including:
- Most seasons with 90+ receptions (8).
- Third all-time in seasons with 100+ receptions (5).
- Third all-time in career receptions with 1,303.
- Second all-time in career receiving yards with 16, 279.
- Tied for sixth all-time in touchdown receptions with 116.
- Second all-time in consecutive games with a reception with 213.
- Youngest player to reach 7,000 receiving yards.
- Youngest player to reach 11,000 receiving yards.
- Youngest player to reach 700, 800, 900, and 1,000 receptions.
- First wide receiver in NFL history to record 150+ receptions against three different franchises.
- Oldest player to record three consecutive seasons of 100+ receptions, 5+ touchdowns, and 1,000+ receiving yards.
While it’s true Larry Fitzgerald is nearing the end of his career, his #11 jersey is one of those that will be timeless. Even had Fitzgerald decided to retire, or if he decides to retire before 2019, it’s highly likely I still would’ve featured his jersey when writing about the Arizona Cardinals.
Other than Pat Tillman, Aeneas Williams, and a small handful of others, Fitzgerald is one of very few Cardinals whose jersey represents timelessness. It’ll be a popular feature with the Cardinals fifty years from today.