FORT WORTH, Texas – Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald is polished, articulate and someone who appreciates all facets of football. I came away impressed after speaking with him this morning, as he is here at the Super Bowl as part of Target’s “School Library Makeover” program.
The topic of discussion was his view on the Patriots.
“I think it all starts with the head coach [Bill Belichick]. He does a fantastic job, week in and week out, keeping his guys mentally prepared to go out there and play,” he said. “He’s the only coach in history to have four seasons with 14 wins, and that alone, speaks volumes of what he’s able to accomplish, especially in that [AFC East] division. I think you’re looking at the NFL’s strongest division, from top to bottom. If Buffalo played in the NFC West, they’d probably win the NFC West. That’s a strong, strong division and he’s found a way to win it [eight] times. It’s astonishing.
“Obviously, Tom Brady, he’s the [soon-to-be] MVP this year in the NFL. He has a nice leader of his team. He has a young squad, which you see when you’re starting four guys on defense who are rookies. And he has a 1,000 [draft] picks next season, so the future is going to be really bright.”
Fitzgerald was asked what he saw from the team’s playoff loss to the Jets.
“I thought the Jets did a good job scheming and they were able to get to Tom and hit him early,” he said. “It made him aware of the pass rush. Then you had other things over the course of the game, like the fake punt, that you usually don’t see happen. But it’s football and that happens sometimes. The Jets played better than them that day. But that wasn’t the case earlier in the season, when the Patriots jumped on them on Monday Night Football and beat them up pretty good, it wasn’t even close. So that’s football.”
Fitzgerald recalled meeting Belichick at the NFL combine, as well as then Patriots assistants Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel, when he was coming out of Pittsburgh in 2004. He said he admires how Belichick has persevered through tough times, saying, “I’m a fan of his.”
“I could understand why they’ve had so much success because they deal with a cerebral kind of football player,” he said, reflecting on his draft meetings with the Patriots. “Guys come in, they’re young and intelligent, able to grasp the concepts, and they can go out there and play fast.”
As for Fitzgerald himself, he was asked about his own future.
“I’m under contract with Arizona for another season, and I would love to be there winning a championship,” he said. “That’s where I started and I love it out there. But my goal, of course, is to win. I want to win at all costs.”