Larry Fitzgerald is still performing at a high level as he enters his 17th NFL season, already establishing himself as one of the greatest wide receivers to ever play the game. An 11-time Pro Bowl selection, Fitzgerald ranks second on the all-time receptions list (1,378), 172 catches behind Jerry Rice for the all-time mark. Fitzgerald is also second on the all-time list in receiving yards (17,083) and sixth in receiving touchdowns (120), needing just nine scores to surpass Marvin Harrison for fifth.
Fitzgerald decided to return for the 2020 campaign, which is expected to be the Cardinals' best season in years. Arizona has one of the most exciting offenses in the NFL, with franchise quarterback Kyler Murray entering his second year as Fitzgerald is part of a receiving corps that added DeAndre Hopkins this offseason and has a rising star in Christian Kirk. Kenyan Drake also added a spark to the Arizona offense after the running back was acquired at midseason last year, averaging 5.2 yards per carry in Kliff Kingsbury's explosive system.
Arizona revamped its defense with the signings of De'Vondre Campbell, Devon Kennard, and Jordan Phillips -- along with the first-round pick of Isaiah Simmons -- highlighting the moves. The Cardinals are no longer an afterthought in the NFC West, but can play spoiler in the division. The young team is a dark horse playoff candidate.
Fitzgerald is doing his best to mentor the upsurging Cardinals, as he reinvented his game to become one of the most consistent slot receivers in the league. The future Hall of Fame wide receiver sat down with CBSSports.com and explained why he continues to keep playing at age 37 and why he continues to perform at a high level. He also previews the Cardinals' 2020 season and talks about the hydration drink RECOVER 180.
I know you are taking things year-to-year, but what ultimately will determine when you decide to retire from the NFL? What was your reasoning for returning in 2020?
Fitzgerald: "Most guys that retire always say 'you know when it's time,' and I don't think I will be any different when that time comes for me. Your body will let you know. If your body doesn't let you know, the team will let you know. I have always had a desire to be part of something that is bigger than me. I enjoy the challenge of improving daily, and I enjoy being in a position where I can help mentor players and be able to compete for a championship and push myself to greater heights."
Not every wide receiver makes the Pro Bowl 11 times. How did you stay so potent in your 17-year career?
Fitzgerald: "The biggest factor for me is that you can never allow complacency to set in. You have to understand that what you've done is what you've done, and there's always work to be done. As an athlete, as a father, as a citizen in your community when you serve people, you have to always look to ways to improve on what you've already done. Take Warren Buffet or Bill Gates. You see them constantly improving and seeking to expand, excel, and give back to their communities. There are no bounds to greatness."
How long have you been drinking RECOVER 180?
Fitzgerald: "I drank this product for the first time 3-4 years ago, when I was traveling, and after I had just finished a highly intense workout. I needed something to replenish my energy, and I picked up a bottle of RECOVER 180. After drinking it, I was surprised how much better I felt and good it tasted. I've been drinking RECOVER 180 after workouts ever since."
Don't know if you're aware, but you are less than 200 catches away from breaking Jerry Rice's all-time receptions record. What would it mean for you to take that record?
Fitzgerald: "I've never been big on individual accomplishments in a team setting. I'm aware of what I need to do to break the record, but that's not why I play the game. Not only does Jerry Rice hold the record, but he has three Super Bowl rings. If you ask him what's important, it wouldn't be the individual records and accolades but those moments winning the championship with the team."
When you got to the Cardinals in 2004, the franchise had one playoff appearance in 20 years. What helped this team transform to an NFC champion four years later?
Fitzgerald: "We had a significant influx of talented players through the draft and via free agency, coupled with a coaching staff who had extensive experience in getting to the playoffs and an owner who was committed to doing what is required to put the team in a position to be successful."
What has been different with the Cardinals over the past two years. It seems your team just has a different vibe than years past?
Fitzgerald: "With the new head coach, he has a youthful exuberance about him: coming from college and loving competition and competing with the guys. Then we drafted a really talented quarterback, and as he gains more experience, it will be better for all of us."
What have you seen in Kyler Murray from Year One to Year Two? You two formed a strong connection in Year One.
Fitzgerald: "He's engaging with his teammates a lot more and the relationships are getting great depth to it. His ability to know and decipher what the competitors are doing to him and his increased sense of his surroundings allows him to continue to improve and he's already doing well."
You played with Anquan Boldin for many years, but this wide receiver group has the potential to be even more dynamic. Can you elaborate on why this Cardinals WR group has that potential? Is it the system?
Fitzgerald: "I had the great pleasure to play with Anquan Boldin, and if every football player has his tenacity and character, you'd see the greatest players of all time. Our Cardinals WR group is unique because we have several key players that, together, form a formidable group. From Christian Kirk, who's going into his third year and constantly displaying greatness, to DeAndre Hopkins that is best in the league, and everyone in this group improving daily, together, we can achieve the goals set out for us."