Although he didn’t play in the NFL last season and never formally announced his retirement from the league, Larry Fitzgerald isn’t playing games about his football future.
Fitzgerald, who primarily played out of the slot for the Arizona Cardinals during the 2020 season and posted a 54/409/1 line on 72 targets, hasn’t filed his paperwork with the NFL but is already referring to his football career in the past tense.
“I had a great run. It was fun. I wouldn’t change anything,” Fitzgerald recently told ESPN. “I wish I could have delivered more for the Valley in terms of winning a championship, but that’s water under the bridge at this point.”
Turning 39 in August, Fitzgerald ranks second all-time in receiving yards and receptions to go along with more than 120 receiving touchdowns. A player for 17 seasons, all with the Cardinals, the future first-ballot Hall of Fame receiver left the NFL on his own terms when he still had something left in the tank.
“It’s not like it happened abruptly,” he said. “Unfortunately, most athletes, they’re told, ‘Your career is over.’ You don’t have much time to prepare. You don’t have anything set up outside of the game to really help bridge that gap, and that’s when you see guys struggle. You got to think, I played 17 years, I made a million connections, I was able to do everything that I ever wanted to do in terms of preparing to be able to make a smooth transition.”
That transition won’t include a return to the NFL, but it also may not feature a formal retirement announcement. “I’m 38 years old,” he said. “I’m a long way from retirement. Yeah, a long way.”
It’d be great if Fitzgerald could get in touch with Tom Brady and give the 44-year-old quarterback some advice about how to handle retirement announcements.