Fitzgerald willing to help needy mates; Gonzalez giving back

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The Bank of Larry Fitzgerald is open, at least for needy Arizona Cardinals players.

The five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver said Thursday that he's ready to help any teammate who's struggling financially as the NFL lockout hit its 41st day.

"For my young guys (such as) Stephen Williams, Max Hall, Isaiah Williams -- all the guys that are on my team -- they know if they need anything, all they got to do is pick up the phone, and I'm going to be there for them and support them any way I can," Fitzgerald, who's scheduled to make $12 million in base salary the next two years, said on KTAR-AM in Phoenix.

Others say they have returned payments to the NFL Players Association's lockout fund, which is doling out up to $60,000 to eligible players. The first checks were scheduled to be sent out last week.

Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez said he was declining NFLPA payments and that players' willingness to do so was a sign of unity that will enable them to receive a fair labor deal as they negotiate with the league.

"Some of the veteran players and the big-time guys that are making a lot of money -- at least I'm one of them -- we're giving that money back to the guys that need it," Gonzalez said Tuesday on KILT-AM in Houston. "If there's a guy that's in an emergency situation and needs some extra cash, go ahead and do that, because we are going to stay united on this. I think the owners know that. That's why I think a deal will get done and something that I think is going to be fair."

Gonzalez, who's scheduled to make $5.75 million in base salary next season, doesn't have much sympathy for struggling players, saying they're to blame if they didn't financially prepare for the lockout.

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"This isn't a surprise that this is going on, from the player's perspective," said Gonzalez, a 11-time Pro Bowl pick and five-time All-Pro. "We've been preparing for this the last couple of years. They've made corrections to make sure we get paid. ... If you're a player and you haven't prepared for this and you haven't set aside money to go through this lockout deal, then this is your fault because you knew this was coming. You knew it was coming, and you should've prepared for it and have been ready for it."

Dallas Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware last week told  the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that he "gave my money back (to the NFLPA fund) to help out other guys that don't have as much money. That is going to help out and bring us closer together."

Should other NFL stars step up to provide financial support to players in need?

"I don't know if I would say (they) 'need' to help," Fitzgerald said, "but, I mean, if you find it in your heart to help guys that may be behind the eight ball, (and you have) the financial wherewithal, you should (help). I definitely would. That's just who I am, though."



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