Because of his starring overtime performance on Saturday night, in which he set up and scored the winning touchdown in Arizona's victory over Green Bay, Larry Fitzgerald Jr. has taken a spotlight that will only shine brighter if the Cardinals beat Carolina on Sunday and advance to the Super Bowl.
A couple of weeks back, teammate Michael Floyd wrote an essay about Fitzgerald on The Players Tribune web site. Floyd went to Cretin-Derham Hall, Fitzgerald to Holy Angels in Richfield. Both were first-round draft picks with impressive college credentials.. Fitzgerald was an established star by the time Floyd was drafted in 2012.
Floyd wrote: "I couldn’t have landed in a better spot than Arizona. A lot of rookies who get drafted in the first round have a lot of pressure put on them. They’re drafted to be the No. 1 at their position. Not only did I not have that kind of pressure coming out of Notre Dame, I’ve had the privilege of playing with a future Hall of Famer and learning from him. I’ve never seen anybody pay as much attention to detail as Larry. He nitpicks about everything. There are little things he’s shown me when running routes to set a defender up and get him to turn his hips — head movements, shoulder fakes, footwork — and if I do it wrong in practice, he’ll let me know."
Floyd also told the story on himself from the summer before his rookie season, when he blew off a workout that Fitzgerald had organized in the Twin Cities. His mentor called him out on Twitter.
The next day, Floyd was there.
In his four years with the Cardinals, Floyd has developed into a receiver that needs to be watched closely. He scored Arizona's other two touchdowns in the victory over Green Bay. In his Players Tribune piece, Floyd wrote about paying back Fitzgerald -- in a manner that only one talented player can do for another:
"After you make it to the league, it’s usually pretty hard to pay back the veterans who help you along the way. That payback usually comes in the form of passing knowledge down to the next wave of guys coming in, the same way guys before you did. You give back to the game, not the guys who shared that knowledge. But the best part about my situation is that by putting in the work and doing my job — and by using all the tools and knowledge Larry has given me — I’m able to pay him back by making defenses pay attention to the other side of the field. That way, he can go out there and make plays like the future Hall of Famer he is, because they can’t double him or send help if I’m over on the other side of the field doin’ work."
The payback, he added, could be even sweeter if the Cardinals can win two more games, which would make them Super Bowl champions: "I hope my development and success can benefit him by giving him the extra space he needs to make the big plays he’s become known for making, and eventually help get him that Super Bowl ring he’s been chasing since he’s been in the league."