When you’re one of the greats, you recognize others’ greatness.
That’s exactly what San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman and Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald did after the pair met in their respective teams’ Week 1 NFC West battle in Santa Clara, California.
While Arizona came out with a 24-20 victory in a tightly contested matchup, it was clear that the feeling was mutual from both the winning and losing sides as the pair shouted each other out on Instagram, starting with Larry Fitz’s post.
Love this man like a brother…one of the greatest friends and competitors I’ve been lucky enough to know.
Always an honor, [Richard Sherman]
Sherman responded in turn with a comment, returning the sentiment.
It’s always an honor to line it up with you my brother! Nothing but love and respect!
While Sherman and the 49ers will definitely still be angered by their performance in an opening week loss in their “Revenge Tour” campaign to return to the Super Bowl, it’s always nice to see two legends honor each other.
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After a decently impressive time with the Stanford Cardinal, Sherman became a household name with the “Legion of Boom” secondary group as a Seattle Seahawk, as the team reached a Super Bowl title and became known for their defensive play, led by Sherman.
With three All-Pro selections and four Pro Bowls in seven seasons with Seattle, the now-32-year-old corner established himself as the best corner in the game at the time.
As all great teams do, the Seahawks eventually had to shift and rebuild, which saw Sherman leave Washington state for the 49ers, still getting to see Fitzgerald two times a season as he stayed in the NFC West.
While his 2018 season wasn’t especially notable, Sherman looked like his old self in 2019, being selected to the Pro Bowl and a second-team All-Pro selection in his second year with the 49ers with three picks and 11 passes defended.
Sherman’s greatness needs no introduction, and neither does Fitzgerald’s. Eight-time Pro Bowler with five (!) NFL campaigns with over 100 receptions in a single season, Fitzgerald is a legend that continues to somehow turn back the clock.
The 37-year-old receiver continues to be an integral part of the Cardinals even in his later years, and showed no signs of stopping in Arizona’s win over San Francisco, catching four of his five targets for 34 yards as he now complements one of the game’s top current pass-catchers in DeAndre Hopkins.
After an electrifying career in college with Pitt, Fitzgerald went third overall in the 2004 NFL Draft to the Cardinals, and, to use a cliché, the rest is history.
Fitzgerald still gives teams fits even a decade and a half later, and will likely go down as one of the greatest receivers to ever play, and arguably the best route-runner to ever hit an NFL field.
Evan Reier is a sportswriter covering the San Francisco 49ers for Heavy.com and local sports for the Montana Standard in Butte, Mont. Reach out to him on Twitter at @evanreier and join our 49ers community at Heavy on 49ers on Facebook.