In the offseason of nothing, NFL Network has presented the player-voted list of the top 100 players in the NFL. Previously, one Arizona Cardinals player was featured -- Adrian Wilson, who was ranked 89th by his player peers. In the penultimate episode of the series, receiver Larry Fitzgerald was featured as they presented players 20-11 in the countdown. Larry was ranked 14th and his video feature was presented by former coach Todd Haley, now the head coach for the Kansas City Chiefs.
As Cardinals fans, we are familiar with the Haley-Fitzgerald connection. Haler was a receivers coach for the Dallas Cowboys when Fitz was coming out from the draft. Haley was already very familiar with Fitz, as he and his family follow the Pitt Panthers, where Larry went to school. While he was in college, Fitz was described by Haley as "a guy who could be real good."
Haley graded him very highly going into the draft, but made an indelible mark on Fitz because he pointed out flaws in his game after Fitzgerald declared his desire to be the best ever. "You don't block like it. I don't ever see you open," stated Haley, and this stuck with Fitz.
The one thing that Haley used to describe Fitz was that he has "ball skills," putting him in the same conversation as the great Lynn Swann, explaining that Larry's "ball skills set him apart from anyone (Haley) has ever been around."
Perhaps one of the more humorous statements was the audio clip of Ron Wolfley saying that Fitz "could catch a bee with chopsticks."
Haley was proud to have seen Larry go from being good to entering "the land of great" and revealed a certainty I had not previously heard about the stinging Super Bowl loss that the Cardinals had two season ago. Haley remembers the catch that Fitz made to give the Cards the lead with 2:37 left in the game, but the one play he remembers most was the last play of the game, when Kurt Warner was hit and fumbled on a jump ball throw that was drawn up. "Had that ball been thrown," says Haley, "I have no doubt that Larry was catching it."
This was confirmed by Pittsburgh star Troy Polamalu, who revealed that Fitzgerald had position and he (Polamalu) would not have been able to do anything about it. Sadly, that is painful to hear. If only that could have happened.
While Fitz is not the highest rated receiver (Andre Johnson still has not bee presented and we can assume he will be in the top 10), he is definitely one of the greatest players in the game, even after the season of suck that was 2010.
We know how good he is. We have seen him lift up the team. He inspires his teammates to be better and is never satisfied with his performance. He is likely going to go down as the greatest Arizona Cardinals player ever and, if he continues his play for several more years, will be a lock for the Hall of Fame.
You catch watch the video in its entirety at NFL.com.