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At age 37, Larry Fitzgerald is placing the ending touches on one of many nice WR careers in NFL historical past

Larry Fitzgerald’s enduring finishing spot might be second place. He’s second to Jerry Rice in a number of receiving records. He lost in a Super Bowl. He finished second in Heisman Trophy balloting.

The thing is, those are all phenomenal things to finish second place in. Now in his 17th season with the Cardinals, Fitzgerald hasn’t played in the most marquee games. But when you start comparing his overall accomplishments to every other wide receiver to play in the NFL, ever, it becomes clear very quickly: Fitzgerald is one of the best.

Fitzgerald likely won’t conclude his career with any major highlights, although having Kyler Murray as his quarterback gives him a chance to go out in style. That’s OK, though, because Fitzgerald has already accomplished plenty.

MORE: Jerry Rice believes Larry Fitzgerald could pass him on receptions list

How old is Larry Fitzgerald?

Fitzgerald was born on Aug. 31, 1983, making him 37 years old. He was taken third overall all the way back in the 2004 NFL Draft out of Pittsburgh, two picks behind Eli Manning and one ahead of Philip Rivers. That came after Fitzgerald finished second in the 2003 Heisman Trophy voting to Oklahoma quarterback Jason White.

In 2019, Fitzgerald caught 75 passes. That ranks fifth all-time among receivers 36 or older, behind one Tim Brown season and three separate Rice seasons. He’s been one of the league’s best route runners for more than a decade and a half, and his decline in overall athleticism and speed hasn’t stopped him from having some of the best hands in football.

Just watch this highlight reel of Fitzgerald in the 2019 season opener. Most 36-year olds on the planet aren’t doing what Fitzgerald was doing last season.

Will Larry Fitzgerald make the Hall of Fame?

This is a short, easy answer: Yes.

Fitzgerald has the second-most receptions in NFL history, 1,396 entering 2020 Week 6. That’s behind only Rice (1,549). The six players in the top-eight of that list who are already retired are in the Hall of Fame. Fitzgerald is also second all-time in receiving yards, with more than 17,000 — although he’s more than 5,000 yards behind Rice. The other six players in the top-seven on that list (besides Fitzgerald) are all in the Hall of Fame. Fitzgerald is also sixth all-time in receiving touchdowns (120), behind five Hall of Famers: Rice, Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Cris Carter and Marvin Harrison. 

Spending his whole career with the Cardinals can only help Fitzgerald’s cause from a branding perspective. He’s gone to 11 Pro Bowls and even won the 2016 Walter Payton Man of the Year award. It’s likely 2020 will be the first truly underwhelming year of his career, and that’s because he’s ceding most of the top duties to the new receiver in town with dreadlocks, DeAndre Hopkins.

Fitzgerald rarely missed games — in 13 of his 16 completed seasons, he played all 16 games, and he never played fewer than 13 in a season. In every year of his career prior to 2020, he saw more than 100 targets, always Arizona’s first or second option. 

The Cardinals didn’t always have great teams with Fitzgerald, but he even showed up when it counted in the playoffs. Following the 2008 season, when Arizona made a run to the Super Bowl before losing to Pittsburgh, Fitzgerald was absurd. He caught six passes for 101 yards and a score to open the postseason. Then he went for eight catches, 166 yards and another touchdown. In the conference championship, he caught nine for 152 and three touchdowns. Then in the Super Bowl, he had seven catches for for 127 yards and two TDs. 

That Super Bowl included Fitzgerald’s famous 64-yard touchdown from Kurt Warner, where Fitzgerald could be seen checking the video board in front of him to ensure he wasn’t caught. His trip to Canton and the Pro Football Hall of Fame won’t be nearly as stressful — they can start carving Fitzgerald’s bust right now.

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