UPDATE: Larry Fitzgerald, Jr. and New York Giants Quarterback Eli Manning were selected as co-winners of the”Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year” award.
When things don’t go your way you simply hope for the best. The Arizona Cardinals were pre-season 8-1 favorites to reach Super Bowl LI. So were the Green Bay Packers after winning eight in a row. Sunday the Falcons sent the Packers home 44-21.
Arizona started the season at home against another pre-season 8-1 Super Bowl pick, the New England Patriots. The Patriots did not have the great Tom Brady, who was out serving a four-game suspension. No problem: Patriots 23-Cardinals 21.
What a difference a game makes, right? The Cardinals finished 7-8-1 and missed the playoffs in what could be Larry Fitzgerald, Jr.’s final season. Fitzgerald was selected to his 10th career Pro Bowl this week in Orlando. Only Hall-of-Famer Jerry Rice among receivers has been selected to more — 13.
Fitzgerald is third all-time in receptions behind only Jerry Rice and Tony Gonzalez. In fact, he has more receptions in his first 201 games — 1,125 — than any other player in NFL history. Fitzgerald has 14,389 yards receiving, which is ninth all-time, and has 104 career touchdown receptions, which is eighth all-time.
Fitzgerald also led the NFL in receptions in 2016 with 107. Sunday Fitzgerald, along with Eli Manning of New York and Greg Olson of Carolina, was named a finalist for the NFL Walter Payton Man of the year. This is the second time in his career (first in 2012) he has been named a finalist. The winner will be announced at NFL Honors on FOX during Super Bowl week on Saturday, February 4 in Houston, Texas.
The award recognizes a player’s off-the-field community service as well as his playing excellence. Fitzgerald has already received $10,000 provided by Nationwide for being named the Arizona Cardinals/Walter Payton Man of the Year. He will receive a $50,000 donation to the charity of his choice and an additional $50,000 donation in his name to implement the Character Playbook program in Arizona.
Through two foundations — the Larry Fitzgerald, Jr. First Down Fund, which he started, and the Carol Fitzgerald Memorial Fund, which was founded in 2003 by his father, Larry Fitzgerald, Sr. — Larry has helped thousands across the country by providing funds for positive activities for kids.
Fitzgerald has done charity work around the globe with the Starkey Hearing Foundation, all over Africa, and with Oxfam America in Ethiopia. He has been honored for furthering awareness for breast cancer research and for his longtime support of men and women serving the Armed Forces.
The overall winner of the Walter Payton Man of the Year award will receive a $500,000 donation to the charity of his choice and a $500,000 donation to expand Character Playbook across all NFL markets. Fitzgerald and family will be in Minneapolis on Friday, April 7 for the 13th Annual Carol Fitzgerald Memorial Fund Benefit.
Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.