It's safe to say Larry Fitzgerald is the best player to ever play for the Arizona Cardinals. He's been the best player on most of the teams he's played on in a pro career that spans nearly two full decades.
That isn't the case in 2020, of course. The mythical title belongs to either DeAndre Hopkins or Kyler Murray. With the wunderkind quarterback and All-Pro wide receiver leading the 2-0 Cardinals back to relevancy and perhaps beyond, it's hard to say which one Fitzgerald is more grateful for.
"Kyler, he's really grown over the last year," Fitzgerald explained on the latest episode of the Huddle & Flow podcast with NFL Network's Steve Wyche and Jim Trotter. "His physical attributes were well documented before he got here. He could throw, he could run, he could do everything. But he's really shy and kind of reserved. This year, he's kind of gotten out of his shell. He jokes around and hangs out and really has endeared himself to his teammates. …
"As he continues to get better at his position, in terms of his leadership, and his status is going to continue to grow, it's going to be essential for him to continue to strengthen the relationship with guys in the locker room because what he's going to accomplish on the field is going to be legendary. He's just that talented."
Hopkins' legend, of course, is already in full bloom. With a strong case as the best wideout in the NFL, he's made a huge impression on Fitzgerald after just a few months -- and two games -- as teammates.
"He's just got an uncanny ability to be able to get his body in position to make tough, contested catches," Fitzgerald said. "He's got extremely good lateral quickness, very quick feet. It gives him the ability to separate at the top of his breaks and be able to get out of his comebacks and stop routes and that nature. Guys just keep running when he stops because he's so good at dropping his weight and his catching radius is incredible. You just put it anywhere in his vicinity.
"I've never seen hands as big as his. He can (with) one hand catch it behind his back. It's like going to the circus. He's like a circus character."
The description sounds a lot like a young Fitzgerald. The NFL's No. 2 all-time leading receiver was only 20 years old when he was drafted by Arizona. His precociousness at the time extended beyond the playing field.
Just a year before taking Fitzgerald No. 3 overall in 2004, the Cards drafted Anquan Boldin and Bryant Johnson in the first two rounds. Boldin made the Pro Bowl in Year 1 after hauling in an NFL rookie record 101 passes. The fact that they took Fitzgerald anyway is largely why he hasn't considered playing for another team.
"Dennis Green gave me a chance," Fitzgerald said. "He could have taken Ben Roethlisberger, he could have taken Philip Rivers. He could have taken any of those quarterbacks in that draft. … There was no need for drafting a receiver. There as an obvious need for the quarterback position. But he felt that I was a dynamic playmaker and I always felt like I was indebted to him for making that decision. The organization has always been good to me from that point on."
Fitzgerald has been even better to the Cardinals, his Hall of Fame resume matched only by his loyalty. Outsiders are quick to say the 11-time Pro Bowler deserves better than just four playoff appearances. A 37-year-old Fitzgerald, though, is just focused on the fifth.
"My mentality is I want to make where I'm at better," he said. "It's easy to go somewhere else where they have pieces in place but to be able to do it where you came first, that brings me the most joy. Being in this position of seeing that we really now have a team that can finally go and compete with anybody any Sunday, it makes it all worthwhile."
It's also safe to say Fitzgerald is who Green thought he was.