As the clock continues to tick toward the deadline for 2012 franchise players to complete long-term deals, a franchise player who never found himself restricted by the franchise tag is feeling the pressure of his career biological clock.
Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald knows that he’s running out of chances to be a champion.
“Michael Irvin is at my house right now,” Fitzgerald tells Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic. “And I’ve had long conversations with Jerry Rice. I see the rings these guys have, and what they mean.
“When it’s all said and done, I don’t want people to say, ‘Yeah, he was a talented guy who put up numbers, but he was never able to win the ultimate prize.’ That’s where my mind-set is at.”
Fitzgerald, who turns 29 next month, has spent eight seasons in the NFL, with one Super Bowl loss to show for it.
“I don’t have another eight, nine years to play,” Fitzgerald said. “I would love to, but realistically, that’s not going to happen. So the window of opportunity is short.”
That’s why he called out rookie Michael Floyd this week for missing three straight workouts this week. “I probably wouldn’t have done that to anyone else,” Fitzgerald said. “But I’ve known Michael for years. We come from the same place. We drank the same water. I have a lot of pride seeing him in the NFL. And we have a personal relationship that allows me to talk to him candidly.”
Fitzgerald also talked candidly about the fact that he nearly chose to be a linebacker at Penn State. “I was heavily recruited as a defensive player,” Fitzgerald said. “I had about 25 to 30 offers coming out, and probably 70 percent of them were defensive offers. I grew up watching Penn State, and was really enamored by the defense at Linebacker U.”
He’s now enamored by the thought of winning. And he knows time is running out.
“I tell [the young players], ‘Before you know it, you’re going to look down and find gray hair in your beard. You’re going to be sore in parts that were never sore before. It changes that fast, and I never realized that before. So I need your best right now.'”
If Fitzgerald wants to win sooner rather than later, he definitely needs the very best from one of the team’s quarterbacks. Even then, that may not be enough.