When the Arizona Cardinals played in the Hall of Fame game in Canton a week ago, it was a special moment for wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.
At age 33 as he begins his 14th season in the NFL, Fitzgerald has already punched his ticket to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
This past weekend won’t be his last visit.
Fitzgerald already is third all-time in catches with 1,125 and ninth in yards with 14,389, so there won’t be much debate about his qualifications.
His induction will likely happen five years after he retires because he figures to be a first-ballot selection.
The honor is a culmination for any player’s career, but it will be a special moment because he appreciates the history of the HOF more than most players.
It’s not a secret that many of the younger players aren’t into the history of pro football. Many aren’t even fans of the game. They just play.
By contrast, Fitzgerald, the son of a sportswriter (Larry Fitzgerald, Sr.) is steeped in the history of the game.
He told ESPN that when his father brought home media guides, he would read them from cover to cover.
“I know all the players who have come before me and have great respect for them,’’ Fitzgerald said.
Fitzgerald knows many younger players aren’t into the history.
“I don’t know if the younger generation really knows or cares that much,’’ he said. “It’s a completely different generation. You can take a young guy in there (Hall of Fame), they probably wouldn’t know 70 percent of the guys through there. I know everybody from sight.
“That’s just how I am,’’ he added. “My appreciation might be a little different than most.’’
John Madden likes to say the busts talk to night after everybody has left and the Hall is closed.
Fitzgerald would love to be a part of that conversation.