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For A 17th Time, Larry Fitzgerald Continues The Chase

When it ends, it ends.

So said Larry Fitzgerald in December of his own career, insisting that he stays in the moment. His current moments will remain wearing a Cardinals uniform, now that he has re-signed for 2020 and committed to at least one more season. Nothing is over yet. The chase continues, because there are still things left to chase.

Fitz doesn't have to track down a path to Canton. That's a given.

He's still chasing a ring. No matter how improbable it may sound at the moment, with the installation of Kyler Murray at quarterback, quick turnarounds are certainly not unheard of -- the 49ers were drafting second overall just nine months ago.

He's still chasing Jerry Rice. He's 5,812 yards shy of Rice for tops on the NFL's all-time receiving yards list, so that feels pretty impossible. But he's only 171 receptions shy of Rice's NFL mark of 1,549. As my cohort Kyle Odegard pointed out, averaging 86 catches -- his average per season over his career -- for two more seasons would top Rice by one catch. It should be noted that Fitz had 75 receptions this year and 69 the season before, so averaging 86 certainly isn't a lock. But for all his talk about how he doesn't look at numbers, make no mistake -- Fitz looks at numbers.

He's chasing a paycheck. Even though he has many millions in the bank, I'd chase $11 million for a season too.

He's chasing fun. Not that Fitz can't have fun in retirement, and I'm guessing he will. But he's after that certain kind of fun that money cannot buy, that only a small number of people can enjoy in the world -- being a professional athlete, playing a game, living a dream. Bonding with teammates in a way that few men want to give up voluntarily, a life that can make someone who is going to be 37 feel like he's still 21.

The conversations about Fitz retiring have been around for a while. I remember after his huge playoff game against Green Bay during the 2015 season, the all-time catches and yards totals were brought up and Fitz insisted he wouldn't be around long enough to catch Tony Gonzalez or Terrell Owens in second place in those categories. Yet here we are.

His potential retirement has been a topic going into 2016 and after each season since. That's not going away, and that's fine. Every year, Fitz checks himself and figures it out. He has perspective. And he still has the joy.

"It's good for you to realize you're just a guy catching a ball. A pigskin ball," Fitzgerald said back in May of 2016. "It's a great living, good work if you can get it, but I'm not making the world a better place. There are doctors and teachers … but I am very thankful for the job I have."

WR Larry Fitzgerald slaps the hand of a young fan as he comes out of the tunnel in his final home game 2019