With the spotlight square in his direction, Larry Fitzgerald deflects it in the direction of his team

Photo: AP/L.G. Patterson)

Photo: AP/L.G. Patterson


TEMPE, Ariz. – Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has had some memorable moments over the years at the Edward Jones Dome. He caught his first career pass there on Sept. 12, 2004.

Fitzgerald remembers that catch like it happened yesterday.

“Oh yeah,” Fitzgerald said. “Every time I see Aeneas (Williams) I always tease him about it. It was a flea-flicker from Josh McCown down the middle (37-yard gain). I remember it with the baby dreads.”

11-plus years later, it all came full circle for Fitzgerald, as he hit 1,000 twice on Sunday at the Dome, crossing over 1,000 receiving yards on the season for the seventh time in his illustrious career, and getting his 1,000th career catch in Arizona’s 27-3 win over St. Louis.

Fitzgerald is as humble a superstar as there is out there. He’s pretty quiet when he does work on the field, he deflects any and all attention away from himself when he’s surrounded by the media, and he chose to make it all about the team when asked to share his feelings about catch No. 1,000.

“It’s nice, it’s nice, but it’s even better to have had three consecutive seasons with 10 wins,” Fitzgerald said. “Coming here in 2004, I mean it’s something really special to be here that long and see a complete transformation. It makes you feel proud and special to be a part of it. It was a great day.”

At 32 years, 97 days old, Fitzgerald is the youngest player in NFL history to reach 1,000 career receptions, besting former Texans and current Colts wide receiver Andre Johnson, who got to 1,000 at 33 years, 163 days old.

“I came in at 20 years old so it’s like, look at (Lakers guard) Kobe Bryant. I think he’s 35 years old and he still seems young, but when you start playing at 17 years old, it’s different,” Fitzgerald said. “I came in pretty early and had a head start. Jerry (Rice) went to school for four years at Mississippi Valley State and didn’t have his first season until he was 23 or 22 and I’d already had two full seasons by that time. I just got a quick jump on him.”

Things have to be crazy on the football field for a player. A guy like Fitzgerald has so many things to focus on when he’s out there other than reaching 1,000 yards on the season, or hitting 1,000 career catches. He’s got to focus on the route he’s supposed to run, or the block he’s supposed to make to free a running back.

Fitzgerald isn’t your average athlete. This is a man that can process many more things than that average athlete can during the course of a game, like doubling up on 1,000.

Fitzgerald’s head coach did a great job of keeping him updated too.

“You know what’s going on,” Fitzgerald said. “I think it was the third quarter and (Arizona head) coach (Bruce) Arians said that we were going to get those two for me. I think it makes you work hard for your teammates. The things they say to you, makes it really special for you and that’s what it’s about and the camaraderie you have with your guys and doing it in a victorious fashion.”

“The personal stuff is all good, but I’ve done all of that personal stuff,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s great but when your team is having success, the only thing I really need personally for me to feel my career is fulfilled is a championship. Each win gets us a step closer and that’s what it’s all about.”

NOTE: Fitzgerald’s quotes are courtesy of the Cardinals and Rams Media Relations Departments.