SEATTLE – If this is truly it for Larry Fitzgerald, he will not leave the NFL like the superstars who finished as shells of their previous selves.
On Sunday afternoon at CenturyLink Field, the Cardinals’ future Hall of Fame receiver did what he’s always done: he made the difficult look routine and stood out as one of the best players on the field. Fitzgerald had four catches for 36 yards and a beautiful one-handed touchdown reception in the 27-24 loss.
Fitzgerald did not hint postgame about his future plans, which conjured up memories of last season when he was similarly vague in Seattle.
“I feel like we’ve done this dance before,” Fitzgerald said. “Same song, same dance.”
Fitzgerald, of course, eventually decided on returning in 2018. He is unsure how long it will take to decide on his 2019 status but is not currently focused on making a decision.
“I’m going to go play golf tomorrow,” Fitzgerald said. “I know that. I’m looking forward to it.”
If Fitzgerald hangs it up, the lasting memory of his final game will be the left-handed scoring snag in the end zone. He feigned a block on play-action and shot toward the goal-line without a defender in the vicinity.
However, quarterback Josh Rosen’s pass was a bit high, forcing Fitzgerald to stretch out his hand to corral the tip of the football. He never bothered to use his right hand to secure it, as the ball stuck in place like there was a magnetic force hidden within his glove.
“I was smiling at him when he came to the sidelines,” coach Steve Wilks said. “He caught it with his fingertips. It was unbelievable.”
This was a difficult season for the Cardinals, but if Fitzgerald is done, it would be hard to draw up two more fitting final games. In the home finale last week against the Rams, he threw a 32-yard touchdown pass to David Johnson.
The touchdown reception against the Seahawks was a thing of beauty, as was a catch over the middle later in the game that no other player on the roster likely would have made. Fitzgerald even seemed to have an unbelievable sideline toe-tap catch in the third quarter, but it was ruled incomplete and not overturned on review.
While Fitzgerald can clearly still play, he has been openly mulling retirement the past three seasons. He has grown tired of the questions, but they are only natural considering he has not made a concrete decision.
Fitzgerald tied Jim Bakken for the most games played in Cardinals history with 234 on Sunday, and it’s unknown if that’s where it will end. Fitzgerald acknowledged he could stop the speculation with affirmation one way or the other, but said that’s not yet possible.
“If I knew,” Fitzgerald said, “I would.”
Images from the regular season finale in Seattle