Larry Fitzgerald is an All-Pro with his name in the top-10 of the NFL’s wide receiver statistical categories.
The Arizona Cardinals superstar continues to hang around, padding those stats, and serving as great leadership in the locker room.
Someone should have let ESPN’s Max Kellerman in on the not-so-secret info before he delivered a “First Take” spiel that has fans using all the question marks.
Kellerman doesn’t see Fitzgerald as MVP caliber
The guys on “First Take” were discussing free agent Dez Bryant on Tuesday when Kellerman brought up Fitzgerald. He compared him to NBA guard Vince Carter, who is still with the Atlanta Hawks after 21 seasons in the league.
The comparison wasn’t kind to either’s chances at the Hall of Fame in the co-host’s mind.
@LarryFitzgerald might make the Hall of Fame?!?!???
Larry #2 ALL TIME IN
RECEIVING YARDS &
MADE 11 PRO BOWLS WITH 19 DIFFERENT QUARTERBACKS !!
Wow @maxkellerman !
( @FirstTake @stephenasmith ) pic.twitter.com/qQZciyxDFY
— Will Blackmon (@WillBlackmon) May 7, 2019
“Larry Fitzgerald is like a Vince Carter. He might make the Hall of Fame and the way he was willing to keep playing without being an MVP-kind-of-level guy anymore.”
Stephen A. Smith, king of oddball hot takes, nodded in agreement.
Fitzgerald’s resume screams HOF
For years now the 35-year-old’s position in the Pro Football Hall of Fame has been viewed as a lock. It doesn’t matter if the 11-time Pro Bowl selection plays five more years or if he retires tomorrow (he signed a one-year contract extension in January). What he has done on the field is nothing short of Hall quality.
Fitzgerald is second in all-time receiving yards with 16,279, third in career receptions (1,303) and sixth in receiving touchdowns (116). He is the youngest player to reach 11,000 career receiving yards as well as 700 receptions, both of which he did at 29.
His season-by-season numbers have been up and down since his first season in 2004, yet it hasn’t been a downward trend as his career winds down. Fitzgerald’s numbers from 2015-2017 rivaled those of the 2007-2011.
And as Will Blackmon noted, Fitzgerald did it without the luxury of a fellow Hall of Fame quarterback throughout his career. He played with Kurt Warner for five seasons from 2005 through 2009 but otherwise was left with a rotating influx of new quarterbacks to get him the ball.
Fitzgerald’s longevity certainly helps pad his statistics but it takes nothing away from the Hall of Fame worthy player he is and will become five years after his retirement. Almost guaranteed.
The fault in the stats
If Kellerman wants to double down on this take, he should consider a look at Jerry Rice, the all-time leader in receiving yards with 22,895. He played for a whopping 20 years, from 1985 through 2004.
His averages: 1,145 yards per season | 9.85 TDs per season | 75.6 yards per game
Fitzgerald’s: 1,085 yards per season | 7.73 TDs per season | 69.6 yards per game
Rice won three Super Bowls with the San Francisco 49ers during their dynasty years.
His numbers dipped late in his career with the exception of the 2001-02 seasons with the Oakland Raiders — a bump that’s similar to Fitzgerald — yet he was rightfully inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2010.
It’s not a perfect comparison, but few player comparisons are perfect. If Kellerman sees Fitzgerald, one of the greatest wide receivers the league has even seen, as a “might” then who exactly is in his small Hall?
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