Ahead in the Count

Larry Legend

NFL receivers catch a lot of flack, most of it rightfully so.  They demand the ball notwithstanding whether it is part of their team’s game plan.  They are sulky and divisive when they don’t get their touches.  They celebrate touchdowns (or even just first downs) with contrived, self-centered dances or gimmicks (although I must admit enjoying some of the more harmless, creative efforts on this front – not that a celebration’s humor makes it any less self-centered).  So while most NFL receivers don’t deserve the attention they so desperately seek, Larry Fitzgerald deserves the attention of all aspiring young athletes. 

For a couple of seasons, I’ve admired Larry Fitzgerald and how he plays the game.  Most receivers celebrate routine catches.  Larry does the opposite: he reacts to making incredible circus catches on a weekly basis with humility and indifference.  Do your job – and act like you’ve been there.  Fitzgerald’s touchdown celebration?  Flip the ball to the ref and either (1) run straight to the sideline (particularly if his team is still losing after the score) or (2) congratulate his teammates. 

Fitzgerald burst on the national scene last week when he scored 3 TDs in the first half of the NFC championship game.   That said, I thought that Larry’s best moments came in the fourth quarter, on two plays in particular where he never touched the ball.  With about four minutes to go and the Cardinals down by two, the Cardinals got a huge first down inside the Eagles twenty yard line.  Larry Fitzgerald was on the field, but they ball did not go his way.  Understanding the significance of the first down, Fitzgerald leaped in the air in a way usually reserved for eight-year-olds who win little league games.  His celebration was even more demonstrative a few plays later when teammate Tim Hightower scored the winning touchdown.  Despite the fact that he did not score, Larry exploded frantically into the air over and over again, jumping up and down with unadulterated excitement at the notion that his team was Super Bowl bound. 

That sort of legitimate, spontaneous excitement on the field was great to see, particularly from a superstar wide receiver.  Simply put, Larry Fitzgerald is a breath of fresh air in professional football.  His talent is now widely celebrated.  His attitude should be as well.

January 25, 2009 - Posted by | Media Commentary, written by John Bramlette

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