It has not been the best couple of seasons, statistically, for Larry Fitzgerald.
He fell short of the 1,000-yard mark both year and has been well behind the league leaders. But last year, even with less than 800 yards, he was named a Pro Bowl alternate by coaches and players because of the respect and goodwill Fitzgerald has built in the NFL through the years. That happened again this year despite missing gaudy numbers (82 catches, 954 yards, although a Pro Bowl-worthy 10 touchdowns.)
So the Broncos' advancement to the Super Bowl Sunday -- which means Denver wideout Demaryius Thomas will now not be going to the Pro Bowl -- means Fitz yet again gets a Pro Bowl nod to replace the departed Thomas. It is Fitzgerald's eighth Pro Bowl in 10 seasons, including the last seven in a row.
"I am blessed and fortunate to be able to represent my community and organization and play with good friends Justin (Bethel) and Patrick (Peterson)," Fitzgerald said in a text message sent while vacationing overseas.
The original Pro Bowl receiver list included Thomas, Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown, Dallas’ Dez Bryant, Cleveland’s Josh
Calvin Johnson was already replaced by Chicago’s Alshon Jeffery and Philadelphia’s DeSean Jackson took the place of Andre Johnson. Both Johnsons are out because of injuries.
Fitzgerald joins three other Cardinals teammates in the Pro Bowl, with cornerback Peterson, special teamer/cornerback Bethel and linebacker
Fitzgerald did lead the Cardinals in receptions, although
Fitzgerald’s eight Pro Bowls tie him with Hall of Fame safety Larry Wilson for the most in franchise history. His seven straight appearances are a club record. Fitzgerald also has a chance to add to his Pro Bowl record of eight receiving touchdowns in the all-star game.
The Pro Bowl is “unconferenced” this year, with players from both conferences put into one pool where Hall of Famers Deion Sanders and Jerry Rice will choose up teams during an NFL Network-televised draft Jan. 22. The Pro Bowl will be played Jan. 26 in Hawaii.