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Larry Fitzgerald says he won't shed tears when retirement decision comes

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald may retire after this season. Then again, he may not.

All he knows for certain is that when he hangs up his cleats, he'd rather retire than be retired.

During his first news conference of training camp Sunday, Fitzgerald ducked the question of whether 2017 will be his final season.

"I feel good right now," Fitzgerald said. "When that changes, I'll let you know."

Fitzgerald explained that if he does retire this year, it won't be announced behind a lectern and he won't shed any tears.

"That's not how I am," he said. "I'm just one player out of 1,600 in the National Football League, and it's a lot bigger than me. It's never going to be like that."

Fitzgerald, who sits third on the NFL's career receptions list heading into the 2017 season, said the one thing that has kept him coming back year after year is the quest for that elusive Super Bowl ring. It has become his main priority.

"That's huge," Fitzgerald said. "That's the only reason I'm playing at this point. From a personal standpoint and the things I've accomplished, they're fine. But the thing that you will say is out of your control because you're in a team sport is a championship."

Fitzgerald has played in one Super Bowl (XLIII in 2009) and most recently played in the NFC Championship Game in 2016. He is entering his 14th season in the NFL coming off a second straight 1,000-yard season in which he led the NFL with 107 receptions at 33 years old.

Playing at a high level while being able to decide when he walks away is a priority for Fitzgerald, who said this summer he will address his future once during training camp.

"The end is never really pretty for elite athletes," Fitzgerald said. "It never looks good for the most part. You watch Michael Jordan in a Washington Wizards uniform or see Tony Dorsett playing for the Denver Broncos or Shaquille O'Neal playing for the Boston Celtics. It's weird because you're used to seeing them when they're at their most dominant, or Willie Mays running around with bad knees 20 years in. It's not pretty, but for me, I really want to be able to play and do things at a high level and be able to walk away and still be someone who can play at a high level."

Another title run this season will hinge on Fitzgerald playing at a high level. Beyond this season, his quest for a championship will also depend on whether coach Bruce Arians and quarterback Carson Palmer will return. Arians has said his health will dictate whether he coaches beyond 2017. Palmer has said he hasn't put a number on how many years he wants to play. But Fitzgerald said Sunday he won't let Arians' and Palmer's decisions influence him.

"I don't really make any decisions based on anybody else," Fitzgerald said. "I never really have. I don't know what the future holds. That's why this year is so much more important because we don't have to think about what we're doing after Feb. 4. It doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is the days until then and how we can improve and get better and do what we need to do to give ourselves an opportunity to just get into the playoffs and possibly win the division and try to win the NFC Championship Game and get to the Super Bowl.

"That's really what's important. The long term doesn't mean anything at this point."