Larry Fitzgerald has never been one for fanfare, uninterested in a farewell tour like the ones Derek Jeter, Kobe Bryant and David Ortiz experienced.
Even so, Cardinals fans have made it a point over the past few years to shower him in adulation at the home finale, just in case it was the end of the road for the Hall of Fame-bound wide receiver.
That won't be possible this season, as COVID-19 will keep all but a select few patrons from attending Saturday's matchup against the 49ers at State Farm Stadium.
"We've become accustomed – this is our 15th game of the season – with few fans in the stadium," said Fitzgerald, who will ponder his playing future after the season like usual. "We kind of understand what it is. It's just part of the deal. I haven't really given it much thought, to be honest with you, but it will be nice to have fans back when it's safer."
Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury doesn't see the lack of in-person connection as a major drawback, as fans have been able to cherish Fitzgerald's greatness for nearly two decades.
"He's such a legendary player, that he's been appreciated for 17 years at the highest level, and he should have," Kingsbury said. "I don't see any sort of negativity in this, if this were his last year. I want him to play three more, four more years. I think he has that ability. If this is the last run, all of us as sports fans and Arizona Cardinals fans have gotten to see one of the greatest athletes of all-time."
Fitzgerald clearly does not have retirement on the front of his mind. He spent the open portion of practice on Thursday teasing the media for getting on DeAndre Hopkins’ case about his lack of practice reps.
If this were a normal year, and Fitzgerald heard the question posed to Hopkins in the locker room, he would have joined the fray.
"If I heard it in real time, I would've had to get in there, man," Fitzgerald said. "I would've had a couple follow-up questions. I would've been doing my best A.I. impersonation. 'Practice? Are we talkin' 'bout practice? I lead the league in catches and yards and we're talking 'bout practice.' I would've had to jump in there with a little sauce on there.
"In the virtual (press conference setup), I don't know what's going on, but I thought it was funny. We gave Hop a bad time about it. It always makes for great comic relief as you get this late in the season."
MASON COLE WILL PLAY AGAINST 49ERS
Center Mason Cole missed practice this week after he had a baby, but he will return in time to play against San Francisco, Kingsbury said. Backup center Lamont Gaillard, who also recently had a baby, won't be available.
Fitzgerald (groin), running back Chase Edmonds (ankle/knee), tight end Dan Arnold (back), cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick (hamstring/calf), guard Justin Pugh (calf), outside linebacker Haason Reddick (shoulder), safety Jalen Thompson (ankle), tight end Maxx Williams (ankle), tight end Darrell Daniels (hamstring) and outside linebacker Kylie Fitts (hamstring) are all questionable for the contest.
Outside linebacker Dennis Gardeck is done for the year with his knee injury.
For the 49ers, cornerback Richard Sherman (calf), safety Jimmie Ward (concussion), running back Raheem Mostert (ankle), quarterback Nick Mullens (elbow) and wide receiver Deebo Samuel (hamstring) are out.
Defensive end Dion Jordan (knee) is doubtful, while defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw (knee), safety Tarvarius Moore (knee), cornerback Emmanuel Moseley (hamstring) and center Hroniss Grasu (knee) are questionable.
VANCE JOSEPH WANTS TO BE HEAD COACH AGAIN, BUT IN RIGHT SITUATION
Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph has done a superb job with his group this year.
It remains to be seen if that means there will be interest from teams with head coaching vacancies, but Joseph would like to ascend back to that role eventually.
However, after leading the Broncos in 2017 and 2018, Joseph said it wouldn't be as simple as accepting any offer that comes his way.
"I do want to be a head coach again, but I'm not over-ambitious about it," Joseph said. "I've done it before. I think for your second time around, you're really cautious about which job you want to take. There are only 32. They're all good jobs, but some are not great fits.
"Having a great job here, having a great head coach to work with, great owner (Michael Bidwill) and great GM (Steve Keim), I'm in no hurry to move on."
Images from the Dignity Health Training Center, presented by Hyundai.