PHOENIX — It’s been nearly two years since Larry Fitzgerald last suited up for an NFL game.
Some would call that retirement.
Not Larry. He’s never said goodbye to the fans and he says he has no plans to do so.
“I’m never going to say goodbye to the community. It’s not a goodbye, it’s I’ll see you later,” he said.
Whether you call it retirement or not, Fitzgerald said he knew during the 2020 season his playing days were coming to an end.
“I was banged up," he said. "I could have played but I knew I wouldn’t have been as effective as I needed to be.”
A bout with COVID-19 during that season didn’t help. He said it was the sickest he’s ever been.
“You kinda grapple with your humanity. It’s the first time you feel you are susceptible," he said. "You play football and you feel like you are a gladiator and can overcome everything and that was the first time I ever felt like, wow I’m vulnerable just like everybody else is.”
He has no regrets about deciding to step away from the game.
“It was the unselfish thing to do. A younger Larry would have tried to play through it but I knew I just didn’t have the juice.”
With his playing days behind him, Fitzgerald said he is now in a new phase of his life, one that keeps him just as connected to the fans and community.
“I came to Arizona because I was brought here for work but I live here. My children were born here. This is home for me now," he said. "When you are able to stay in one place for that long it is your responsibility to really dive into the community.”
He has gotten more involved with charities across the valley, something he loves now that he has more time.
“If anything I’m more present than I’ve ever been. I don’t like to look at it as a goodbye," he said. "I’m not retired. I’m busier now today than I’ve ever been.”
Through “The Larry Fitzgerald Foundation," Fitzgerald works on various causes. One of them is raising cancer awareness, which has special significance in his life.
“It took my mother’s life," he said. "It affected two of my mother’s sisters. It has touched my life in a way I wish it hadn’t but it’s opened my eyes to how devastating it can be and it’s made me more aware and made me more proactive.”
Fitzgerald and his foundation are teaming up with the American Cancer Society for the inaugural American Cancer Society’s Arizona Golf Classic. The event starts with a kickoff dinner on Thursday, Nov.17 at the Westin Kierland Hotel followed by the golf event on Friday, Nov. 18 at the Kierland Golf Course.
He also launched his “Breast Believe” campaign to encourage cancer screenings.
“We’re going to provide mobile mammograms and things of that nature for people who are in need,” he said.
He said the campaign is aimed at not only women but also men, who can be affected by breast cancer.
It’s a new passion in this new phase of his life.
“My hands are firmly on the wheel of doing everything I can to eradicate this disease,” he said.
If you would like information about the American Cancer Society’s Arizona Golf Classic visit the event website.
Watch the full extended interview below.
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