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GOAT vs. GOAT: Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Phelps face-off on pickleball court

The Cardinals GOAT and the Greatest Olympian of All Time took on a new sport. 12 Sports caught up with them after their match.

PHOENIX — Arizona Cardinals fans may have gotten as close as they will ever get to an official retirement announcement from Larry Fitzgerald late last week when he listed his title as "Investor. Philanthropist. Former-Athlete." 

But it was only fitting that on the day Fitz announces he is a "Former-Athlete" he goes out and does something athletic.  

Both Fitz and the greatest Olympian of all time, Michael Phelps were at the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa to take part in a new sport: the pickleball pro-am at the Carvana PPA Desert Ridge Open.  

"Uh, no, no! I know what I'm doing in the pool," Phelps answered when asked if this was easier than swimming. "I'm out here trying to float." 

"It's much different," Fitzgerald said. "And the pain's a little different too. But it's still great. It's competition, it's what it's all about." 

More than 1,000 people packed around the pickleball court at the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge to watch the battle of GOAT vs. GOAT.  

"It's great to be able to come out here with the greatest of all time and compete, man, it's awesome," Fitzgerald said. 

This was all part of the pro pickleball tour's first stop of the season. 

"All my kids play," Fitzgerald said. "They play 3-on-1 in the backyard and I beat up on them but they're getting better every day. It's one of the few sports where everybody can pick up a paddle and (in) 20 minutes, as long as you know the rules and you're the same level, you'll have a great time." 

Phelps hit the deck a few times during the match, while Fitz looked like he could still be out on the gridiron catching touchdowns. 

"This guy's got game," Phelps said about Fitz. "We saw that. I need to learn a few tricks. These men and women out here that compete at the highest level, it's ridiculous. I mean it is so impressive watching them." 

To ramp up the evening, Fitz was spotted a 9-0 lead to the No. 1 player in the world, 15-year-old Anna Leigh Waters.  

However, Fitz never stood a chance and didn't score a point on Waters. 

"She's a professional," Fitzgerald said. "I mean, if you got in the pool with (Phelps), you know what's going to happen. If you try to guard me, you know what's going to happen." 

"He's pretty good," Waters said about Fitz. "I didn't know what I was expecting, but he came out here and he showed that he could actually play some pickleball."  

So, when did the future Hall of Famer pick up the new sport? It all started back when he was playing. He and teammate Christian Kirk would pick up some paddles and play after practice.  

"(Fitz) moved pretty well," Kirk said. "I think the fact that he couldn't catch his breath after the game was a little concerning, but we'll work on that." 

Besides playing with his kids, Fitz has a new job these days, being the Executive Chair of the Arizona Super Bowl host committee. 

"I love it here, I'll live here the rest of my life, Michael's made this his home as well and you can't ask for a better place, so I'm looking forward to not only hosting the Super Bowl in this state but the Arizona Cardinals playing in it next year," Fitzgerald said. 

But will Phelps join Fitz on the Super Bowl host committee? 

"If he wants to do it, I can make a call," Fitz said. 

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