Beyond the End Zone: Larry Fitzgerald


When former NFL extensive receiver Larry Fitzgerald stepped away from soccer after the 2020 season, he had no qualms about what was subsequent. He had been mapping it out for years.

All through his 17 seasons with the Arizona Cardinals — throughout which he set many NFL and franchise information — Fitzgerald discovered time to launch a charitable basis, put money into greater than 40 corporations, discover 108 international locations, begin his personal journey firm, and indulge his ardour for golf and pictures.

The one factor the 11-time Professional Bowler actually worries about is turning into one-dimensional. “There’s a shelf life to being an athlete,” he admits. “It’s very simple to get consumed by being nice at your personal occupation. But when I’m trying to get into advertising, as an example, and all I can write down for my expertise is that I’m actually quick, I can soar actually excessive, I’m actually fast laterally, and I can catch rectangular pigskin balls at excessive velocities . . . all these issues are fabulous, however they’re not going to assist the advertising division.”

Cultivating a well-rounded way of living is one thing ­Fitzgerald has targeted on for years — and advocates for when he visits colleges. “After I ask children what they need to do, about 90 % of them say, ‘I need to be an athlete’ or ‘I would like to be an entertainer,’ particularly in colleges in predominantly African American or Latino communities,” he notes.

There are actual struggles on the market, so I at all times strive to verify I’m holding every little thing in perspective, and that at all times helps. 

“If children aspire to be an expert athlete that could be a objective price striving for. Nonetheless, I would like them to realize it’s OK to pursue one objective whereas having others in thoughts in order to not be singularly targeted on one pursuit. It’s vital for youths to play sports activities, get good grades, and pursue different extracurricular actions to be an general well-rounded particular person.”

Though Fitzgerald is taken into account probably the greatest receivers in NFL historical past — second solely to Jerry Rice in profession receiving yards — he has at all times remained humble. In truth, in 2011, on the peak of his soccer profession, he accomplished an internship with funding financial institution J.P. Morgan. “I’ve by no means been a stranger to beginning on the floor degree,” he mentioned final yr. “I benefit from the journey.”

Most future Corridor of Famers may scoff on the thought of working as an intern, however Fitzgerald believes humility and laborious work are key to lifelong studying.

“I actually respect and admire people who find themselves in a position to have long-term success,” he has mentioned. “Folks usually speak about Warren Buffett and the way he’s slow-grinded for 60, 70 years — nothing particular, no cockamamie schemes, simply consistency each single yr. There’s one thing to be valued and revered about individuals who simply methodically go about their enterprise.”

We talked to Fitzgerald about philanthropy, the significance of mindset, his values and beliefs, and a few of his most significant accomplishments.

Q&A With Larry Fitzgerald

Expertise Life | Who taught you about psychological resilience?   

Larry Fitzgerald | My dad and mom at all times set an important instance for my brother and me. My dad is a sports activities journalist and my mother was on the not-for-profit aspect. I might be on the Vikings sideline as a ball boy on Sunday, after which on Monday, my mother can be internet hosting a charity occasion for most cancers or HIV/AIDS. We noticed fully completely different ends of the spectrum, and it gave us nice perspective.

EL | Why did you make a acutely aware determination to step away from soccer? 

LF | As you become older in your profession, you begin wanting on the panorama and determining what you need to do subsequent — what your five- or 10-year plan goes to be. So, I used to be getting ready for the season, and I used to be like, Man, I’m simply probably not feeling it at this level.

You by no means know in sports activities when the sport will determine to be finished with you, so I labored actually laborious to organize myself for the following section. There was no query in my thoughts that I used to be prepared — mentally, bodily, psychologically — to maneuver on.

EL | You’ve mentioned that philanthropic work issues most to you. Why?

LF | Years from now, folks received’t do not forget that I caught 100 touchdowns or caught a pair thousand yards of receiving. However the younger those that I’m in a position to positively affect with the issues that we do with the Larry Fitzgerald Basis, they’ll do not forget that — as a result of I do.

I bear in mind being in Youngsters’s Minnesota hospital in Minneapolis — I had a bit of process finished — and [NBA star] Kevin Garnett got here in to go to sufferers. He noticed me within the hospital, and he confirmed me love. I imply, Kevin Garnett didn’t know me from Adam. I used to be down, and he constructed my confidence up.

Is that the rationale I turned an expert athlete — who’s to say? However he selected to be there on his off day, and it meant loads to me. It’s a lot larger if you do issues off the sphere in your neighborhood.

EL | Are you able to speak about how your mindset influenced your profession? 

LF | Mindset might be my best attri­bute. Anytime I went by one thing antagonistic, I may at all times look again and take into consideration issues which can be truly actually powerful.

There are folks all throughout our globe who haven’t eaten a meal right now, and many people can go to our fridge, and discover 10, 12, 13, 14, 15 completely different choices of what we need to eat.

There are actual struggles on the market, so I at all times strive to verify I’m holding every little thing in perspective, and that at all times helps.

EL | When you concentrate on the core values and beliefs which have guided you, what would they be?

LF | Rising up, we at all times talked as a household in regards to the religion, focus, end. Religion is your basis. You at all times must be targeted on the target — you realize, no matter it’s that you’re into or doing on the time. And when you began or dedicated to one thing, you need to see it by to the end.

That is one thing I do with my children now, and it units a great tone.

EL | What do you do to loosen up?

LF | My favourite factor to do is play golf. I play pickleball two or three days every week. I actually get pleasure from something that’s a exercise.

EL | You’ve visited greater than 100 international locations. What about journey is significant to you?

LF | Journey is likely one of the stuff you spend cash on that truly makes you wealthy. I’ve been to about 110 international locations, and the small, intricate particulars that I’ve been in a position to be taught by touring have actually enriched my life.

I don’t have sufficient time to speak by a few of the life-altering experiences that I’ve had, together with going by Vietnam and staying in distant villages, sleeping on the flooring of individuals’s houses, simply listening to their experiences and the way a lot they worth their households.

EL | What e-book has influenced your life probably the most?

LF | In all probability The Alchemist. I’m an optimistic particular person, and it’s probably the most optimistic e-book I’ve ever learn. I’m a giant fan of Paulo Coelho and what he teaches about being in contact with oneself.

EL | What’s the stamp of influence you’re hoping to go away in 2022?

LF | I’m leaning in closely with my basis work. We’re doing a little actually cool tasks with Microsoft to place know-how labs in colleges, and my objective is to have the ability to add 30 to 35 extra colleges in Arizona over the following yr. If I can do this, that will probably be one thing I’m actually happy with.

Go behind the scenes at our cowl shoot with Fitzgerald as he talks about intentionality and life after soccer.