10: Getting drafted third overall in 2004 and making his first NFL catch
In one of the better, if not best, top-five overall selections in the NFL Draft history, Larry Fitzgerald avoided becoming an Oakland (now Las Vegas) Raider and fell to the Cardinals. The Cardinals were led by the late Dennis Green. Green had known Fitzgerald from his time in Minnesota, where Green was the Vikings’ head coach, and Fitzgerald was a ball boy.
“‘If your son’s there at No. 3,” Fitzgerald Sr. remembers the late Green, then the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, telling him, “we’re taking him.”
Fitz would have the opportunity of a lifetime to learn from Cris Carter and the rest of the receiving corps in Minnesota. Lessons like these and Fitzgerald’s work ethic are what took him to the University of Pittsburgh and the NFL. Green would make a promise to Larry Fitzgerald Sr. on the day of the draft. He followed through after Robert Gallery went to the Raiders.
Now the team had drafted Bryant Johnson and Anquan Boldin the previous year. Kudos to Green for not letting Larry slip any further, as Boldin and Fitzgerald took the league by storm and were the reason so many became fans of the two of them.
Fitzgerald’s first catch would be a flea-flicker from Josh McCown against the then-St.Louis Rams on the road. It was just pure foreshadowing of what Cardinals fans and the league would see in the future, as Fitzgerald caught the ball in an acrobatic fashion over former Cardinal and Hall of Famer, Aeneas Williams.
Technically he also caught the pass from Emmitt Smith on that flea-flicker too. Fitzgerald would go on to have 58 catches for 780 yards and eight touchdowns in his rookie season.