Even in the wake of the positive test and suspension, one former teammate of Hopkins wants no part in discrediting him, saying, “He’ll still be a Hall of Famer.”
Larry Fitzgerald, the former Cardinals great and a future Hall of Famer himself, discussed Hopkins when TMZ Sports interviewed him over the weekend at Los Angeles International Airport. Fitzgerald was asked whether the suspension would hurt Hopkins’ legacy as one of the NFL’s best wide receivers.
“I don’t think so,” Fitzgerald said. “He’ll still be a Hall of Famer. He’s talented. He’ll work through it. It’s some adversity and he’s a tough guy, he’s resourceful. He’ll work his way through it.”
Hopkins’ six-game suspension came after a positive test result from an anabolic agent, according to the NFL’s updated PED policy.
In response, Hopkins tweeted a statement, saying: “In my 10-year NFL career, I have never tested positive for using performance-enhancing drugs. To learn that my November test came back with trace elements of a banned substance, I was confused and shocked.”
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Cardinals Legend Speaks on Suspension
Fitzgerald and Hopkins were teammates for one season after the Houston Texans traded Hopkins to the Cardinals prior to the 2020 season. The Cardinals would finish 8-8 that year and miss the playoffs. In that season, Hopkins took over from Fitzgerald as the Cardinals’ No. 1 receiver, hauling in 1,407 yards and six touchdowns.
Last year, when he missed eight games with hamstring and knee injuries, the team went 3-5 — including a 34-11 playoff loss to the Los Angeles Rams — in his absence. Now, he will miss the team’s first six games.
“Obviously, it’s a big blow, but I think they’ll be able to weather the storm,” Fitzgerald said.
He said the Cardinals “have some talented guys” to handle things in the passing game while Hopkins is out, mentioning Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, whom the Cardinals just traded for, and tight end Zach Ertz, who had three touchdowns in 11 games for Arizona last year.
Fitzgerald, who is second in all-time receiving yards, last played in 2020, when he had only 409 receiving yards and a touchdown. He has yet to make an official announcement on his retirement, but it might as well be written in stone. The 38-year-old has gone on the record in the past saying that he isn’t interested in playing football.
Cardinals’ First 6 Opponents
Hopkins is eligible to participate in all preseason practices and games and will be put on the Cardinals’ active roster after the team’s sixth regular-season game on October 16.
Before then, Arizona will face the Kansas City Chiefs, the Las Vegas Raiders, the Los Angeles Rams, the Carolina Panthers, the Philadelphia Eagles and Seahawks before Hopkins can come back in Week 7 against the New Orleans Saints.
Arizona’s strength of schedule is the second most difficult in the league, with their 2022 opponents going 157-132 in 2021. The Rams, whose 2022 opponents posted a 164-125 record last year, have the toughest schedule.
Until Hopkins returns, Brown will likely be given the Cardinals’ No. 1 receiving role. The Cardinals also received a third-round pick, which would end up being edge rusher Myjai Sanders, from the Baltimore Ravens for a first-round pick in the 2022 NFL draft.
In 10 games last season, Hopkins posted 42 catches for 572 yards a team-high eight touchdowns as the Cardinals went 8-2.