Perhaps it was the way he dominated the 2008 postseason, a signature series of performances that any of the best players of all-time can put on the resumé.
Perhaps it was his move up the all-time lists, making him second in NFL history in both receptions and yards – and he's still playing.
But there can't be much surprise that Larry Fitzgerald – a lock as a future Hall of Famer, whenever he starts that five-year waiting period upon retirement – was named officially named Friday night as one of the greatest 10 wide receivers in NFL history on the league's all-time team, as the league celebrates its 100th season.
"It's kind of a gut punch, honestly," Fitzgerald said about the honor on the “Big Red Rage.”The hair on my arms is standing up. To be mentioned in the same breath with some of the names ... legends, some of the guys who essentially paved the way for myself and guys who are playing now to be able to play the game that we love. For the last 100 years, it's amazing to think how many guys have played in the game and to be mentioned in that (top-10) group."
Fitzgerald is the only active wide receiver on the all-time team. The nine others:
- Lance Alworth
- Raymond Berry
- Marvin Harrison
- Elroy "Crazylegs" Hirsch
- Don Hutson
- Randy Moss
- Steve Largent
- Jerry Rice
- Paul Warfield
Safety Larry Wilson and cornerback Dick "Night Train" Lane are the other former Cardinals with a spot on the NFL all-time team, with only the quarterbacks remaining to be named.
Fitzgerald is heading into the final two games of the season – including Sunday's in Seattle – with a team-leading 67 catches and 711 yards, along with three touchdowns. He is 10 yards shy of 17,000 for his career on his 1,370 receptions.
Rice finished with 1,549 receptions and 22,895 yards in his career, the only player with more than Fitzgerald in either category.
Fitzgerald also remade himself into a slot receiver and one of the best blocking receivers in the game when Bruce Arians arrived in Arizona in 2013.
The idea of retirement has been floated with Fitzgerald, who is finishing his 16th season and will be a free agent in March. But the veteran, in the context of his all-time honor, doesn't sound like a player looking to walk away.
"When you say things like (the all-time team) when you're the person, you don't view yourself as that person," Fitzgerald said. "I feel like I'm still that kid in Mankato, Minnesota, in Vikings training camp with Randy Moss and Cris Carter and watching (defensive tackle) John Randle.
"I feel like I'm a kid still (as a player). I get to go out there with 25-year-olds and it keeps you young, being a part of something that is bigger than yourself. Being a part of that camaraderie and playing on Sundays, there's nothing like it. I never take it for granted."
Enjoy images of Larry Fitzgerald throughout his Cardinals career.