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Larry Fitzgerald Happy To Be Back After COVID Battle

Veteran said retirement/future wasn't on mind; 'You appreciate the health you have'

Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald smiles after a catch during Thursday's practice.
Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald smiles after a catch during Thursday's practice.

Larry Fitzgerald chuckled, but the smile didn't last.

The veteran wide receiver, speaking for the first time Thursday since spending almost two weeks on the Reserve/COVID list, has returned to practice, is feeling good and is planning on playing Sunday in New York against the Giants.

But there were a number of days "I didn't feel great," he acknowledged, and it was difficult not to be faced with the sometimes grim reality of the coronavirus.

"I got my estate planning all done up again, I revised my will," Fitzgerald said. "I did a lot of stuff. When you're sitting at home and you're watching how many people are dying every day, you really kind of reevaluate things. It makes you appreciate the health that you have."

Fitzgerald's test came back positive on Thanksgiving morning. He said he felt OK until about Saturday that week, and then wasn't doing well the next few days. The scariest part was the inability for anyone to really give him answers, given how the virus impacts people so differently.

"Your mind kind of wanders," Fitzgerald said. "You're sitting at home and you're watching TV and you see the cases and you see the deaths across the nation and all these things are running through your mind. You worry. Fortunately, I was able to get through it. I feel much better. I still can't taste or smell anything but that's much better than what a lot of people are dealing with."

Quarantine gave Fitzgerald time to not only do his estate planning but allowed him to read a lot. He ran a couple of times and went heavy on Peloton workouts.

He also said if he had any doubts he was loved and appreciated, those were wiped away by the hundreds of text messages and phone calls he received, checking on his well-being.

"Those things put life in perspective," Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald, 37, said right now, "I feel the best I ever felt," at least when it comes to an in-season body check. He had a couple of nagging bumps and bruises prior to the time off. Those are gone. He lost nine pounds, because he lost his appetite.

"He might be a little faster because he's had a couple of weeks off," safety Budda Baker quipped.

Fitzgerald said his Peloton regiment isn't enough to prepare him to play, not at the level and urgency NFL games require. But he did take part in practice Wednesday – a day he normally sits out – as he ramps back up. He also brings with him a cachet that will be important in the locker room, especially one dealing with a three-game losing streak.

"First of all, I think it's huge to have him back out there – that feeling of comfort knowing he's out there, obviously, the leadership he brings," quarterback Kyler Murray said. "I think everybody else feels a lot more comfortable when he's out there too."

With four games left in the regular season and even Fitzgerald contemplating his mortality, the potential of Fitzgerald's football retirement or decision to play an 18th season was inevitable to come up. Coach Kliff Kingsbury said it continues to be an honor to be around the future Hall of Famer and "I hope he plays five more years."

Fitz, however, said his isolation stint didn't lend itself to such subjects.

"I didn't really look at it like that," Fitzgerald said. "It was more the immediate future like staying alive and things of that nature. Football, and how long I'll play football, didn't really cross my mind."

Now that he's back on the field, football is the job. The Giants are next up. Assuming he plays, he will again try and extend his still-alive streak of 253 straight games with a catch. He will try and get the Cardinals back into the win column, and back into the playoff chase.

"I hope I'll be able to play," Fitzgerald said. "That's why I've been here the last 17 years, not to be watching from the sidelines or especially not watching from home."

Images from practice at the Dignity Health Training Center, presented by Hyundai.