When Larry Fitzgerald was asked last month during mini-camp if he thought about playing beyond the upcoming 2018 season, the Cardinals star wide receiver offered one of his standard pat answers:
“I’m just trying to get through February in one piece,” he told us.
Well, it seems watching some other older athletes dominate their respective sports lately might be making Fitzgerald think twice about any possible retirement plans.
During interviews on Monday with Minnesota reporters, Fitzgerald said he’s been inspired by 36-year-old tennis superstar Serena Williams, who just missed out on winning a record-tying 24th career Grand Slam title at Wimbledon, and 33-year-old LeBron James, who has made it to eight consecutive NBA Finals and is still considered to be the best in the game.
“It doesn’t matter about the age, it’s about what you put into it and your mindset,” Fitzgerald said during a break in his youth football camp in Richfield, Minn. “Everybody kind of takes numbers and assume this is when it’s supposed to end. As an athlete, fortunately, you write your own script.
“If you still produce and you play at a high level, you kind of determine how long you want to play. If I can stay at a high level, I still keep destiny in my own hands.”
Fitzgerald has enjoyed his three finest seasons to date over the past three years, averaging 108 receptions and 1,131 yards over that stretch, and is within reach of moving into second place all-time in career receptions and receiving yards. He is 92 catches away from surpassing Tony Gonzalez (1,325) and just 389 yards shy of Terrell Owens (15,934).
Cardinals coach Steve Wilks said last month that he would “love to have him back,” adding of Fitzgerald, “As I’ve said earlier, next year and maybe even a year after that.”
Asked by Minnesota reporters how long he might continue to play, Fitzgerald couldn’t say.
“I just take it year by year,” he said. “Honestly, I feel good. I really, really enjoy the competition still. I love being around the guy and being able to do something that’s bigger with me.”
Arizona is the only place Fitzgerald said he will play, ruling out any thought of him possibly ending his career in his home state of Minnesota and playing for the Vikings.
“If I’m not playing in Arizona,” Fitzgerald said. “I won’t be playing anywhere. I’ve built a good life for myself down there. Playing in the same place for 15 years is a true blessing.”
While discussing new Cardinals quarterback Sam Bradford, who spent the previous two seasons with the Vikings, Fitzgerald did note that Minnesota is a Super Bowl contender.
“You can’t go wrong with the Vikings,” he said. “They’re knocking on the door last year and they’re pretty much returning all of their offensive weapons. Most of their defensive players are coming back. They have a franchise quarterback (Kirk Cousins), got (running back) Dalvin Cook coming back healthy again. They’re going to be a real force to be reckoned with.”