BY Doug Farrar 08:29PM 03/11/2011

Larry Fitzgerald

SPNW’s NFL writer Doug Farrar catches up with Arizona’s elite receiver and Seahawks nemesis

With this being the time of year for the combine and pro days, I was wondering if this is something you still follow. Do you watch a guy like Julio Jones, who just tore the combine up, with any interest?

Not really — I don’t pay much attention to the draft process and all that. I know the players when I watch them on Saturdays, but in terms of really breaking them down, I don’t get to that level.

Coach Whisenhunt was obviously at Cam Newton’s pro day.  Quarterback is obviously a point of concern for the Cardinals going forward. I know you take a lot of responsibility for the decline in offensive production in the wake of Kurt Warner’s retirement, but what was it like going from that great quarterback to a cast of many, where everyone was trying to figure it out at the same time?

Well, when you lose a Hall of Famer like Kurt, our most valuable player over the last couple of years, and then you lose Anquan Boldin, Antrel Rolle and Karlos Dansby, that’s a lot of firepower and a lot of guys that have been together for a while. They were difficult to replace, but that’s what we have to do.

This is the last year of your current contract — labor issues notwithstanding, do you see the Cardinals as the type of organization that can come back from all those personnel losses and succeed long-term with you on the roster for a number of years in the future?

Coach Whisenhunt and his staff have a really good grasp of what’s right in terms of winning, and I really like playing for them and in that city. Hopefully, we’ll reach an agreement, and I’ll be able to end my career there. That’s what I would like to do.

There’s been a lot of talk about whether you were consulted about the quarterback situation and whether the Cards should go after this and that quarterback. Can you clarify whether Whisenhunt or Rod Graves ever came to you and asked for your take on that?

Absolutely not — that’s not how it works in the NFL. I’m just a number on the roster at the end of the day. There were 11s before me, and there will be 11s after me. I have a job to do, and that’s not part of it, so I don’t think they’d ever ask for my input.

It’d be nice if they gave me a title like ‘Player Personnel/GM’ or something like that — probably a sweet little gig [laughs]. But I won’t see it in this lifetime.

So, in the same way there were player-coaches in the old days, you could be, “Larry Fitzgerald, Wide Receiver/Assistant General Manager’!

Oh, man — that would be awesome. I’d probably make more money, too!

Especially this year, when the executives might get paid in the event of a lockout. And speaking of that — I know there’s a lot you can’t say with the labor mess going on, but what’s your take in a nutshell about how things are going and how the players are represented by DeMaurice Smith and the current group in charge of the NFLPA?

No question. De’s been doing a great job from day one, educating us on what’s to come, giving us ways to save our money in the event that we’re not playing, and that’s important. Right now, we just want to see the books, and I don’t think that’s too much to ask for. If [the owners] are going to ask for [an additional] billion dollars back, just show us why. We just want some understanding and verification. Players want to play; it’s the game we all love, we know the fans love it, and we want to keep growing the game.

Okay — Larry, you have the podium, and you’re talking to all the fans out there who do not care about what they perceive to be “millionaires versus billionaires” — they just want to see football. What would you like to tell them so that they’ll understand the players’ perspective?

We’re working hard, and we want to play. This is not our idea for a work stoppage. It’s out of our hands, because the owners opted out of the last deal. We want to get out there and put on the great show for the fans that we’ve been putting on for years, and that’s what I think I’d really like to get across.


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