Fitzgerald during the 2015 season
|No. 11 Arizona Cardinals|
|Date of birth:||August 31, 1983|
|Place of birth:||Minneapolis, Minnesota|
|Height:||6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)|
|Weight:||218 lb (99 kg)|
|High school:||Richfield (MN) Academy of Holy Angels|
|NFL Draft:||2004 / Round: 1 / Pick: 3|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics as of Week 17, 2016|
Larry Darnell Fitzgerald Jr. (born August 31, 1983) is an American football wide receiver for the Arizona Cardinals of the National Football League (NFL). He was drafted by the Cardinals third overall in the 2004 NFL Draft. He played college football at Pittsburgh, where he earned unanimous All-American honors.
Fitzgerald has been selected for the Pro Bowl ten times, and was named First-team All-Pro in 2008 and Second-team All-Pro twice in 2009 and 2011. As of 2016, he is third all-time in receptions, ninth in receiving yards (leading all active players in those two categories), and eighth in receiving touchdowns.
Larry Fitzgerald attended the Academy of Holy Angels in Richfield, Minnesota during his teenage years. Fitzgerald attended the University of Pittsburgh, where he played for the Pittsburgh Panthers football team under Head Football Coach Walt Harris. He was widely considered one of the best wide receivers in college football from 2002 to 2003. After his sophomore season, Fitzgerald was recognized as the best player in the NCAA with the 2003 Walter Camp Award and the Touchdown Club of Columbus's Chic Harley Award, and as the best wide receiver in college football with the 2003 Biletnikoff Award and the Touchdown Club's Paul Warfield Award. He was also a unanimous 2003 All-America selection and a runner-up for the prestigious Heisman Trophy, given to the most outstanding player in college football; Oklahoma's Jason White won the award that year by a relatively slim margin.
In just 26 games with the Panthers, Fitzgerald caught 161 passes for 2,677 yards and set a new Pitt record with 34 receiving touchdowns. He was the first player in school history with back-to-back 1,000-yard receiving seasons, and his 14 games with at least 100 yards receiving broke Antonio Bryant's previous all-time Panthers record of 13. Fitzgerald also holds an NCAA record with at least one touchdown catch in 18 straight games.
On July 1, 2013, Fitzgerald's #1 jersey was retired by the University of Pittsburgh. Fitzgerald was the ninth Pittsburgh player to receive this honor.
|Ht||Wt||40-yd dash||10-yd split||20-yd split||20-ss||3-cone||Vert||Broad||BP|
|6 ft 3 in||225 lb||4.48 s|
|All values from Pittsburgh Pro Day|
Although Fitzgerald had played at Pitt for only two years without redshirting, he petitioned the NFL to allow him to enter the 2004 NFL Draft, as he had left his high school, Academy of Holy Angels, during his senior year to attend Valley Forge Military Academy. The NFL granted an exception to allow Fitzgerald to enter the draft, as Fitzgerald had convinced the NFL that the time he spent at the Academy, combined with his time at Pitt, was the minimum three years removed from high school to make him eligible for the draft. Although former Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett was suing the NFL at the time to overturn the rule (a case Clarett initially won, but it was later overturned on appeal), the NFL considered Fitzgerald's case separate from Clarett's.
Fitzgerald left the University of Pittsburgh after a tremendous sophomore year in which he caught 92 passes for 1,672 yards and 22 touchdowns. He was drafted third overall in the 2004 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals, whose then coach, Dennis Green, knew Fitzgerald from his time as a Vikings ball boy.
In 2004, Fitzgerald had 59 receptions for 780 yards and 8 touchdowns in his rookie season. On December 12, 2004, Fitzgerald became the youngest player at 21 years and 110 days, to record at least 2 touchdown receptions in a single game. In 2005, he led the NFL with 103 receptions for 1,409 yards and 10 touchdowns and was named to his first Pro Bowl. Fitzgerald teamed with Anquan Boldin to create one of the most dangerous wide receiver tandems in the NFL. In 2005, they became only the third duo from the same team to each catch over 100 passes and also the third pair of teammates to top the 1,400-yard mark.
In 2006, Fitzgerald was injured and missed part of the season but still produced 69 receptions for 946 yards and 6 touchdowns. As part of his 2007 Pro Bowl season, he caught 100 receptions for 1,409 yards and 10 touchdowns. Following the 2007 season Fitzgerald signed a four-year, $40 million contract extension with Arizona. While still under contract at the time, performance bonuses forced the team's hand into a massive extension. Fitzgerald's numbers earned him the nickname "Sticky Fingers" and "The Best Hands in the NFL" in local media.
During the NFC Championship for the 2008 NFL season, Fitzgerald tied an NFL record with three touchdown receptions in a playoff game. His three touchdown catches occurred in the first half; he became the first player in NFL history to accomplish that feat in a conference championship game. Fitzgerald also set a single postseason record with 546 receiving yards, 30 receptions, and 7 touchdown receptions, surpassing Jerry Rice's records of the 1988–89 NFL playoffs. He and the Cardinals represented the NFC in Super Bowl XLIII. During Super Bowl XLIII, Fitzgerald caught two touchdown passes in the Cardinals 27–23 loss to the Steelers. Fitzgerald followed up this performance by catching two more touchdown passes in the 2009 Pro Bowl, earning him MVP honors. After the Pro Bowl was over it was revealed that Fitzgerald had been playing at least the whole postseason with a broken left thumb as well as torn cartilage in the same hand. It is speculated that Fitzgerald has had this injury since November 5, 2008, when he showed up on the injury report with an injured thumb. After his record-breaking postseason, capped by his Pro Bowl MVP award, many analysts, including NFL Network's Jamie Dukes, regarded Fitzgerald as one of the best receivers in the NFL.
Despite having about 300 yards less than the year before, he set a career-high with 13 touchdowns in 2009. He added two more touchdown catches in the Wild Card game against the Green Bay Packers in a 51–45 win. However, the Cardinals were eliminated the next week, beaten 45–14 by the New Orleans Saints in the Divisional Round.
In 2010, Fitzgerald caught 90 passes for 1,137 yards and six touchdowns. After the season, he was named to his fifth Pro Bowl, and his fourth in a row.
On August 20, 2011, Fitzgerald signed an 8-year $120 million deal with the Arizona Cardinals, tying him with Richard Seymour as the 5th highest paid player in the NFL. Fitzgerald would reward the Cardinals by having another stellar season, catching 80 passes for 1,411 yards and 8 touchdowns and setting a personal record of 17.6 yards per catch. Fitzgerald's accomplishments were recognized by an All-Pro second team selection as well as his 6th Pro Bowl selection.
On February 18, 2015, Fitzgerald was signed to a new multi-year contract worth at least $11 million guaranteed over the next two seasons. In week two against the Chicago Bears, Fitzgerald caught three touchdown passes, the first time he accomplished the feat during the regular season in his career. For the 2015 season, Fitzgerald had 109 catches for 1,215 yards and 9 touchdowns. For his accomplishments during the 2015 season, Fitzgerald was selected to the Pro Bowl for the ninth time. He was ranked 27th on the NFL Top 100 Players of 2016.
On January 16, 2016, Fitzgerald helped his quarterback Carson Palmer record his first playoff win with 8 catches for 176 yards in the NFC Divisional Playoffs against the Green Bay Packers. Fitzgerald was the Cardinals' entire offense in overtime, with a 75-yard reception to open overtime, and a 5-yard touchdown reception from Palmer two plays later, which resulted in a 26-20 win.
On August 5, 2016, Fitzgerald signed a one-year, $11 million contract extension with the Cardinals.
On September 11, 2016, Fitzgerald reached his 100th career touchdown in the season opening loss to the Patriots. He became just the 10th player to accomplish the feat.
Fitzgerald's father, Larry Fitzgerald Sr., is a sportswriter for the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder. When he covered Super Bowl XLIII, he was believed to be the first reporter to cover his own son in a Super Bowl. Fitzgerald's mother, Carol, died of a brain hemorrhage while being treated for breast cancer in 2003. Fitzgerald also has a younger brother, Marcus Fitzgerald, who was a wide receiver for the Sacramento Mountain Lions of the United Football League.
Fitzgerald established the “Larry Fitzgerald First Down Fund” to help kids and their families by funding positive activities for kids during the summer and throughout the year, supporting kids and families in crisis and supporting health-related organizations that work with families. One initiative the “First Down Fund” holds each summer are youth football camps in Arizona and Minnesota. In May 2014, Fitzgerald and Lenovo provided five schools in Minneapolis and four schools in Phoenix Lenovo tablets and equipment to enable the children to gain access to technology. The First Down Fund made a donation to the Minneapolis Park and Recreation to help refurbish a basketball court at Rev Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr Park. The court received new hoops, poles, backboards and benches. He also partnered with Riddell to provide new helmets to 1,000 kids in the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation football program.
Fitzgerald also established the “Carol Fitzgerald Memorial Fund” in honor of his mother who died of breast cancer in 2003. The organization offers support to causes that Fitzgerald’s mother held deep including educating urban youth about HIV/AIDS and breast cancer issues. He has served as an NFL spokesman for the league-wide breast cancer awareness initiative “A Crucial Catch” for three years and every October makes donations to breast cancer organizations based on his touchdowns and receptions during the month.
In 2014, Fitzgerald was selected as the 2014 Henry P. Iba Citizen Athlete Male Recipient, which was created in 1994 by the Rotary Club of Tulsa to recognize an influential male and female premiere athlete for their success in their sport and for being a positive role model who gives back to their communities.
During the 2013 season, Fitzgerald was honored with the NFL Players Association Georgetown Lombardi Award. The award was established to honor a leader in the sports industry whose life and family have been touched by cancer, and who encourages cancer research, prevention and treatment through awareness and philanthropy.
Following the 2012 football season, Fitzgerald was named the “Arizona Cardinals/Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year” and was one of three finalists for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award. In August 2012, he was honored with the 14th annual Pro Football Weekly Arthur S. Arkush Humanitarian Award for his community and charitable contributions.
During the 2011, 2012, and 2014 offseasons, Fitzgerald joined other NFL players partaking in mission trips to Africa, India, Thailand and the Philippines to support economic development projects. He has worked with Starkey Hearing Foundation to provide hearing aids for children and adults in need in eight countries. Fitzgerald has also made five USO tours to visit soldiers overseas and has raised financial support for injured and critically ill members of the U.S. military.
In 2016, Fitzgerald completed his undergraduate degree with the University of Phoenix, fullfilling a promise that he made to his mother to finish his education. Since graduation has become a paid spokesperson for the University of Phoenix.
Fitzgerald was featured on the cover of the EA Sports video game NCAA Football 2005. He was also one of two players (along with Troy Polamalu) featured on the cover of Madden NFL 10, making them the first two players to be featured on a Madden NFL cover together.