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Scottsdale, Ariz. – Life after the NFL has been a steady adjustment for Larry Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald, who played 17 seasons for the Arizona Cardinals and is in second place all-time in receiving yards and receptions, first said he wanted to see matches, see plays being made and longed to get out there. Now, after a year away, the future Hall of Fame recipient of the first ballot has fallen into a routine he is familiar with. He is very busy doing “father-things” 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 imagined “at times.”
“You learn a lot about yourself when you have free time, and I do better with structure,” Fitzgerald said. “I do not like structure, but you do better with it, you know? And then you have to find structure in your life because you just sit at home, watch Netflix and TV shows or do something like that. … So you must make sure to get into a good routine. “
Besides being the father of his two sons, that routine includes a lot. He was part of a radio program on SiriusXM NFL Radio with Jim Gray and Tom Brady, he is a minority owner of the Phoenix Suns, he took a four-day course at Harvard Business School on entertainment, media and sports, and he has been busy with his company, Larry Fitzgerald Enterprises, and made investments worldwide.
Going away from football was not 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 are told, ‘Your career is over.’ You do not have much time to prepare, you have not set up anything outside the game that can really help bridge that gap, and that is when you see guys fighting.
“You have to think, I played 17 years, I got a million connections, I was able to do everything I would ever do in terms of preparing to be able to make a smooth transition.”
Fitzgerald has not formally announced his retirement yet, and most likely will not, because in his eyes he is too young to retire.
“I’m 38 years old,” he said. “I’m far from retired. Yes, a long way.”
Fitzgerald, who is in sixth place all time in touchdowns, has tried to stay connected to the game. He and the Cardinals receiving Christian Kirk speak frequently. He hangs out with former teammates like offensive lineman Kelvin Beachum.
Watching games, however, can lead to him longing to play someone else down.
“I mean, there are days when you watch the fight and you watch D-Hop [DeAndre Hopkins] make a fantastic catch or see [tight end Zach] Ertz is doing something special or you see [left tackle] dj [Humphries] pancake a gold pine [linebacker] Chandler [Jones] get a sack of gold [safety] Buddha [Baker] get a choice and you get really excited and you wish you could be there and participate with them, “he said.
But Fitzgerald is not coming back – and he’s at peace with that.
“I had a good race. It was fun. I did not want to 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.”