SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Life after the NFL has been a steady adjustment for Larry Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald, who played 17 seasons for the Arizona Cardinals and ranks second all-time in receiving yards and receptions, said at first he’d watch games, see plays being made and yearn to get out there. Now, after a year away, the future first-ballot Hall of Fame receiver has fallen into a routine he’s comfortable with. He keeps plenty busy doing “the dad stuff” with his two sons, Devin and Apollo.
“They’re active in so many things,” Fitzgerald said.
Being on their schedules has been as good as he envisioned “at times.”
“You learn a lot about yourself when you have free time and I do better with structure,” Fitzgerald said. “I don’t like structure but you do better with it, you know? And, so, you have to find structure in your life because you’ll just sit around at the house, watch Netflix and TV shows or doing stuff like that …. So you got to make sure you get into a good routine.”
• Rams’ all-in bet nets Super Bowl win
• Bengals’ rebuild not yet complete
• Bengal’s must address the O-line
• Early NFL Power Rankings for 2022
• Kupp credits wife for star turn
Besides being a dad to his two sons, that routine includes quite a bit. He was part of a radio show on SiriusXM NFL Radio with Jim Gray and Tom Brady, he’s a minority owner of the Phoenix Suns, he took a four-day course at the Harvard Business School on the business of entertainment, media and sports, and he’s been busy with his company, Larry Fitzgerald Enterprises, investing all over the world.
Walking away from football wasn’t a sudden decision for Fitzgerald. He knew it was coming and prepared accordingly.
“It’s not like it happened abruptly,” he said. “Unfortunately, most athletes, they’re told, ‘Your career is over.’ 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.”
Fitzgerald hasn’t formally announced his retirement yet, and most likely won’t, because in his eyes, he’s too young to be retired.
“I’m 38 years old,” he said. “I’m a long way from retirement. Yeah, a long way.”
Fitzgerald, who ranks sixth all-time in touchdowns, has tried to stay connected to the game. He and Cardinals receiver Christian Kirk talk often. He hangs out with former teammates such as offensive lineman Kelvin Beachum.
Watching games, however, can lead to him yearning to play another down.
“I mean there’s days that you watch the game and you see D-Hop [DeAndre Hopkins] make a great catch or you see [tight end Zach) Ertz do something special or you see [left tackle] DJ [Humphries] pancake a guy or [linebacker] Chandler [Jones] get a sack or [safety] budda [Baker] get a pick and you get really excited and you wish you could be there and participating with them,” he said.
But Fitzgerald isn’t coming back — and he’s at peace with that.
“I had a great run. It was fun. I wouldn’t change anything,” Fitzgerald said. “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.”