star wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald took time out from his busy off-season to answer some questions from Profootballhof.com. Fitzgerald and his teammates kick off the 2012 NFL season against the New Orleans Saints in the annual NFL/Hall of Fame Game.
The Class of 2012 will add two more Pitt Panthers to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Chris Doleman
and Curtis Martin
. First, did you know that there are eight alum of Pitt in the Hall (Southern Cal has the most, followed by Notre Dame; Michigan and Ohio State are tied with Pitt)? What kind of pride do you feel in knowing that Pitt has produced this number of football legends?
Though my career at Pitt lasted only two seasons, the experience left me with strong positive feelings about the city, the university, the coaches, my teammates and the great people of Pittsburgh.
It was an enjoyable time in my life, and I sometimes reflect on the football program's long standing success. Our eight Hall of Famers covered every decade from the 1950s right through to the turn of the century, showing remarkable consistency. And, let’s not forget that Joe Stydahar
, a 1930s and ’40 Hall of Fame lineman, originally played for Pitt before transferring to our hated archrival, West Virginia. His Hall of Fame honor makes nine for Pitt, with an asterisk!
(Editor’s note: Stydahar enrolled at Pitt but shortly thereafter became homesick and left the school. While he attended the football training camp, he never suited up for the Panthers which is why he is not counted as an alum of Pitt on our lists
Just as importantly, I'm proud of the fact that approximately 300 Pitt Panthers have played in the NFL and that my era has produced our share of Pro Bowl players such as Andy Lee, LeSean McCoy and Darrelle Revis.
You’ll be helping kick off the NFL preseason as the Cardinals face the Saints in Fawcett Stadium. When was the last time you played a football game in a 23,000-seat stadium? Does the game have special meaning to you?
The Hall of Fame game in Canton has always had special meaning because it symbolizes the kickoff of the NFL season and lets everyone know that the NFL is back. It’s a small stadium, but it still has an old school charm to it. As I recall, the only similarly sized field I played on with Pitt was at the University of Toledo during my sophomore season. I think it held about 25,000 fans, but they were a hostile vocal bunch.... and we got beat.
I will be looking forward to playing in Canton as part of the special weekend with the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies, especially because two former Pitt players, Curtis Martin and Chris Doleman are being inducted.
It’s almost taboo to talk about the Hall of Fame with active players. But, has the thought ever crossed your mind that you could someday get here?
Every practice, every play, every series, every game of every season I’m in a chase of the pursuit of greatness. The standard has been set by the likes of Don Hutson
, Lance Alworth
, Charley Taylor
, Jerry Rice
and Michael Irvin
. So, I just try and stay healthy, focused, productive and humble and reach for greater heights - getting back to and winning the Super Bowl.
From what we understand you’re such a student of the game and have an appreciation for the history of the game. What does it mean to you to know that you’re already represented in the Hall with the shoes and gloves
from when you became the fastest player ever to reach 400 career catches?
It’s a nice honor to have a milestone recognized by the Hall of Fame, but it’s a brief stop on the road to creating a successful career. My sights are always focused downfield on the next challenge and conquering new goals.
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