|The score will not rank high on a list of memories. Family lore will mean much more. Today, as American audiences glorify a game. A father, a Sportscaster, and his wife who rests far above this Earthly terrain, the Mom of Larry Fitzgerald II, Cardinals Wide Receiver, will wonder of their creation. |
Each parent will cheer for the progeny they reared so well. Yet, the two, Larry Fitzgerald Senior and his spouse, Carol, will have to be spectators physically separated. Spiritually, the two and their children, will forever remain one.
It's been six years since Larry Fitzgerald's wife died, and yet when you call his house, it's her voice on the message machine.
"My sons asked me to keep it," says Fitzgerald, father of All-Galaxy wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald Jr., of the suddenly Super Bowl-bound Cardinals. "If they were having a tough day, they wanted to be able to call and hear her voice. It's comforting to them."
That's what makes his son's trip to Tampa bittersweet for him. Every year since 1981, the longtime Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder sportswriter has covered the Super Bowl. Beginning in 1983, his wife, Carol, joined him. "She loved the Commissioner's Party," he says.
While mother, Carol, cannot attend in-person this year, she and her husband will be there. Larry Fitzgerald I will cover the Super Bowl in which the couples eldest son, some say "the most electrifying player" will perform as boldly as any have before him. The younger Larry has "already broken Jerry Rice's record for receiving yards in a single postseason, and he's still got one game to go," writes fellow Sports Commentator, Rick Reilly, as he muses of the nature of this occasion.
The rules state the press cannot cheer from the box that allows for the best view of the game. They must remain stoic and as impartial as a human can be. "Mister Emotional," as the football star calls his Dad, concurs. He will remain constrained.
"I won't cheer," Fitzgerald, the proud Papa proclaims. "I'm going to stay objective. I've come too far to suddenly show up in the press box with pompoms. But if you could put a monitor on my insides, you'd find a whole fan club in there." Humbled by his son's achievement, although not surprised, the older Fitzgerald reflects on what America has accomplished this year. "I always had this dream that Larry would play in a Super Bowl," Larry Senior says, "but never, ever did I think we'd have a black president."
The father is thankful that the President, a sports fan, intends to watch the Super Bowl. Larry Fitzgerald welcomes the opportunity to introduce the Chief Executive and the world to his family and all that the he, his wife, and his offspring value. For some, fame and fortune are significant. A trophy will be the prize.
In the life of Larry Fitzgerald Senior, Carol, and their sons, Larry Junior and Marcus, now 23, the win is not what they want in life.
Today, as an American audience might see everyday, the Super bowl star is a receiver who catches passes thrown his way. He brags about nothing. Larry Fitzgerald is said to dress and speak "impeccably." The young man who yearns for no special treatment, takes life in stride. In the off-season, the athlete travels the world alone. He marvels at the magnificence found in museums. The younger Fitzgerald is not pompous or pretentious. Prestige has not gone to his head.
"He looks so much like his mother," remembers Larry Senior. "He has her humility, her smile and her stubbornness."
Carol Fitzgerald, the dearly departed life-partner who lives on through her family, suffered a brain hemorrhage during her battle with breast cancer. Her husband recalls "She hated for her boys to miss even a day of school. By the time I got Larry back [from the University of Pittsburgh], she'd slipped into a coma . You make your decisions and you live with them, but it's still difficult."
For Larry Fitzgerald Senior, it may be difficult to watch the son you love achieve greatness and not have his Mom by your side. The challenge of an emotional loss, for Larry Junior may be as great. His past performances demonstrate he can weather a defeat on the football field. The game is not as important as his familial relationships are.
Junior still carries his mom's driver's license in his wallet. . . . he wears his hair in long dreads - as she did - to honor her.
Larry Fitzgerald II is far more than a football star. He is not merely the Super Bowl celebrity, or the man who soars above the clouds to retrieve a ball. First and foremost, this individual understands what it means to be fond of family, to value people, and a cherished connection. The Cardinals Wide Receiver and his Dad may be among those, who for a time, appeared to be focused on a final Super Bowl Sunday football game. However, for these pair, there is so much more.
References for familial love realized . . .