For the first time in 18 years, Larry Fitzgerald spent the opening weekend of the NFL season watching the games on TV as a fan.
And he loved every minute of it.
“There was a lot of great games (in Week 1),” he said, “and it was fun to be able to see some of my friends perform at a very high level.”
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“I was elated to see them playing that well, to jump out to that big lead,” he said. “It was a decisive victory and a great team victory. I was happy to see them get it done.”
A few of those friends Fitzgerald mentioned by name:
- Chandler Jones, who dominated in his return to action after missing the final 11 games of 2020 with a biceps injury. The pass rusher had a career-high five sacks — including three in the first quarter — to go along with two forced fumbles. It’s a performance that Fitzgerald said makes Jones the early front-runner for Defensive Player of the Year.
- And Kyler Murray, who had a five-touchdown day (four passing, one rushing) and “beat (the Titans) with his feet and his arm,” Fitzgerald said.
Fitzgerald also picked the Cardinals (1-0) to win again in Week 2 when the Minnesota Vikings (0-1) visit State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, on Sunday, September 19. It’s a matchup of his NFL home as a player against the team he grew up watching and working for as a ballboy.
Clock Is Ticking on the Hall of Fame
ESPN reporter Josh Weinfuss pointed out that the countdown to Fitzgerald’s induction to the Pro Football Hall of Fame got underway with the kickoff of the Cardinals’ season-opener in Nashville, Tennessee. Weinfuss wrote:
As long as Fitzgerald doesn’t play a snap this season, he will remain on track for induction in 2026. If he signs somewhere and plays just one snap this season, his Hall of Fame wait will restart. If he signs with a team but doesn’t play, his clock will remain ticking.
Fitzgerald, who ranks second all time in receptions (1,378) and receiving yards (17,083) behind Jerry Rice, is expected to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer when he becomes eligible for the honor. He also has the sixth-most touchdown catches (120) in NFL history.
Arizona used the No. 3 overall pick of the 2004 NFL Draft to select Fitzgerald, and the receiver played 17 seasons with the Cardinals before deciding to step away from the game (at least temporarily) following the 2020 season.
Fitzgerald, 38, announced in August that he doesn’t “have the urge to play right now,” though he left the door open for a possible return at some point this season or beyond. “I don’t know how I’ll feel in September, October, November moving forward, but as of today, I just don’t have the urge,” he said.
For now, Fitzgerald said he’s content to be a spectator and share his insights to the games each Monday on “Let’s Go,” which also features Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady and is hosted by Emmy Award-winning broadcaster Jim Gray.
Fitzgerald is still listed on the Cardinals’ website as an unrestricted free agent and hasn’t officially retired, but that doesn’t factor into the Hall of Fame’s clock, Weinfuss reported.
Humphries Not Convinced Fitz Is Finished
Arizona offensive lineman D.J. Humphries said Fitzgerald’s absence is “still weird to me,” and he isn’t convinced Fitzgerald’s football career is over.
“I don’t believe any of it until the season’s over,” Humphries told reporters Friday, September 10. “I feel like Larry has enough pull that he can come back Week 17 before the playoffs and hang out with us for the playoff run and go to the Super Bowl.”
Humphries, who played six seasons with Fitzgerald, says he won’t believe the receiver is done playing football until the 2021 season is over.
“And even then, I wouldn’t be surprised if he comes back the next year,” he said.