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Outside the Game: Larry Fitzgerald uses world travel to impact many lives

Doug Farrar
Shutdown Corner

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Many NFL players are somewhat unhappy when the league's scheduling department takes them to London for the odd regular-season game. And if there's ever a real initiative to play more games overseas as has been "threatened," you can bet that there will be a lot of howling over it.

But if there's one NFL player who would adjust perfectly to a true World Football League, it would be receiver Larry Fitzgerald of the Arizona Cardinals. As his means have improved through his career, Fitzgerald has taken every possible opportunity to trot to different places around the globe.

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His most recent trip was to Southeast Asia, and per his own estimation, the only continent he hasn't seen yet is Antarctica. On a Tuesday media tour promoting EAS' Recovery Protein Powder, Fitzgerald quipped that he hopes to visit Antarctica in February.

"Last year, I was in South America, and I was in Africa three different times," he told Shutdown Corner. "I went to Europe for a little; went to Australia. I'm really passionate about traveling -- for leisure experience and for charitable work. I really enjoy going out and seeing all that God has created; to immerse myself in different cultures. I really enjoy that."

From a charitable perspective, the most important trips are the ones Fitzgerald has taken to Africa, sometimes in conjunction with longtime friend and former Cardinals teammate Anquan Boldin.

The two receivers went to help provide relief with a organization called Oxfam, and released this statement about their travels:

Last Spring we visited communities in Ethiopia devastated by the drought in East Africa. In many ways the people we met are stronger than us. They are living through, and surviving, some of the toughest conditions anyone can imagine.

We're back home getting ready to start the season, but Oxfam is still there. They're helping people rebuild their villages with wells, livestock, farming tools, and other much needed resources. We need you, our fans, to help make sure this life-saving work continues.

By joining us you will not only be helping others, but you will also be entered into a chance to win an autographed football and other great prizes.

We are all blessed to be in a position to help those who are less fortunate.  Let's work together to give back and create positive, long-lasting change in the lives of others.

Your friends,
Anquan and Larry

"Everybody talks about Larry's travels but what people don't know about is him going into depressed communities and working with kids and trying to make a life better for people all over the world," Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt recently told the Associated Press. "That's a responsibility when you're in the NFL -- giving back. Larry has the forum, because of his notoriety, to do that. I think that's why he's so beloved all over the country and certainly the world, because of doing those kinds of things."

"Me and Anquan went to Ethiopia -- some different areas around there, and we're actually going back in March," Fitzgerald told us. "We  have been close for a very long time, and we still have a great relationship. We do a lot with each other, to support each other's causes.

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"Africa is one of those places that's hard to describe," he said. "It's just a beautiful, beautiful place. So many natural resources -- the most beautiful sunsets and sunrises you could ever imagine. The wildlife, the food -- overall, it's just a beautiful place. But there are some very impoverished areas, and those people need a little bit of extra help. I think it's important that we, being in the richest country in the world and having the most resources, go out there and help people in need."

"Just imagine this," Fitzgerald said. "You have a son and a daughter and you don't have enough money to feed them. You have to make a decision that `I'll take my daughter to a big city or take my son to a big city and just leave them and hopefully they will find their way, or they're going to die here on the farm with me.' Can you imagine making decisions like that? That's crazy, man. I can't even wrap my mind around stuff like that."

Fitzgerald found it easier to wrap his mind around Europe -- especially Italy, which he also recently visited.

"After I left Africa, I went to Rome, Florence, Pisa, and Pompeii," he said. "So, I was around there for a little bit. It was my third time [in Italy], and I really like the history there."

Then, it was off to Australia, though not the Outback. "Not this time, I didn't go. I went to a place called Hamilton Island, off the coast of Brisbane. Went scuba diving and snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef, and I just had some fun in the sun."

Asked what he gets out of travel, Fitzgerald said that it's the best way to transcend his own world view.

"It gives me perspective on how people are living, and their experiences. It's an amazing world, and I want to go out there and see all I can. I'm really blessed and fortunate to do these things I really want to do. It's great to take advantage of the free time you have."

No surprise that the next generation of Fitzgeralds seem to have a similar case of wanderlust. "It's funny because my son, who's 4 years old -- I show him where I've gone on the map, and he says, "Daddy, I want to go there!" Fitzgerald said. "He's been bitten by the travel bug himself. I have to tell him, 'You're only 4, man -- you gotta wait a couple years!'"

"Just wait a little bit, and I'll take you everywhere."

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