CHARLOTTE NC - DECEMBER 19: Larry Fitzgerald #11 of the Arizona Cardinals watches the scoreboard as he waits to go back in the game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on December 19 2010 in Charlotte North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
When push comes to shove, you know things are spiraling out of control. For the Arizona Cardinals, success feels as though it didn't come the previous two years. The 2010 season has reminded us that experiencing success shouldn't be taken for granite. Witnessing one of the greatest wide receivers in NFL history shouldn't be either.
Larry Fitzgerald has always done the right thing in his seven-year career. He's made the big plays, said the right things, and has put up with many grueling seasons in the desert. It wasn't that long ago when the Cardinals won back to back division titles. Now with a division-worst 4-10 record, the team would be thrilled to get back that illusterous 9-7 record that propelled them to the Super Bowl in 2008.
Heading back to that season, Larry was the MVP of the postseason and was living on cloud nine. He shattered all of Jerry Rice's playoff records as a receiver and nearly did the improbable by leading the Cardinals to their first Lombardi Trophy. The following season he came close again when the Cardinals made it to the divisional round of the playoffs and lost. Fitzgerald talked to the Arizona Republic last week and discussed this thoughts on this season:
"When you're playing on a team that isn't having any success, it isn't a lot of fun," Fitzgerald said. "This year has been physically grueling and psychologically grueling. The toughest year of my career, hands down."
Those are powerful words for a player that strives to be successful. Fitzgerald has molded his game around perfection and winning. It doesn't take an expert to know that. Although most players in the league make it their goal to win, some stand out more than others.
Fitzgerald will play the final year of his contract next season when he earns $7 million. That year is stemming from the contract he received in the 2008 offseason that made him the highest paid receiver in the league at the time. The Cardinals can give him the franchise tag in 2012, but would need to shovel out $23 million to do so. Be that as it may, Fitzgerald doesn't come across as a guy in it for the money. He also talked about his financial situation:
"I've made tons of money," Fitzgerald said. "Money comes and goes. If I don't play another snap, I won't have to work another day in my life. Making another dollar is not that important. I want to be a winner. I have to win."
He's 27-years old and is in the prime of his career. He's experienced five losing seasons out of seven total years in the league. This season is clearly a lost year. It's next season that becomes the most crucial. Larry Fitzgerald will be in the aforementioned final year of his contract and it's the Cardinals time to let him know they mean business. If they want to remain competitive in the contract talks with him following the 2011 season, it will be pivotal for the Cardinals to experience success next season. As we learned this offseason with the players that left the team, no one is guaranteed to stay in Arizona.