Larry Fitzgerald opted not to play the 2021 season, the first step towards retirement after a stellar NFL career. Fitzgerald won't retire from the league yet, but admitted he's not coming back to play football.
"I had a great run. It was fun. I wouldn't change anything," Fitzgerald said, via ESPN's Josh Weinfuss. "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."
Fitzgerald caught 1,432 passes for 17,492 yards and 121 touchdowns in his Hall of Fame career, all with the Arizona Cardinals. He's second only to Jerry Rice in receptions and receiving yards and sixth all-time in receiving touchdowns. Fitzgerald holds 24 NFL records and 40 franchise records, etching himself as one of the greatest players in NFL history.
He spent 17 seasons with the Cardinals, posting nine 1,000-yard seasons and five 100-catch seasons -- and led the NFL in receiving touchdowns and receptions twice. Fitzgerald made 11 Pro Bowl teams, was a First Team All-Pro in 2008 and earned the 2016 Walter Payton Man of the Year award.
Fitzgerald's 2020 campaign may have made his decision not to return easier. He had a career-low 54 catches for 409 yards and a touchdown in 2020 -- as his 7.6 yards per reception was the lowest of his Hall of Fame career. The 13 games Fitzgerald played in last season also tied a career-low.
"It's not like it happened abruptly," Fitzgerald said. "Unfortunately, most athletes, they're told, 'Your career is over.' You don't have much time to prepare. You don't have anything set up outside of the game to really help bridge that gap, and that's when you see guys struggle.
"You got to think, I played 17 years, I made a million connections, I was able to do everything that I ever wanted to do in terms of preparing to be able to make a smooth transition."