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Cardinals soar with Fitzgerald leading the way

By: Larry Fitzgerald
Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder
Originally posted 01/14/2009

Charlotte, N.C. — For the first time in franchise history, the Arizona Cardinals will host the NFC Championship game next Sunday in Glendale, Arizona. The NFC West Champions dominated the heavily favored Carolina Panthers 33-13. Veteran quarterback Kurt Warner threw two touchdown passes, and the Cardinals defense forced six turnovers while intercepting Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme five times.

However, it was the remarkable prime-time performance of wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, Jr. that highlighted this divisional playoff game. Fitzgerald grabbed eight passes for 166 yards and a touchdown. It was a Cardinals playoff record performance.

Last week, Fitzgerald was named first-team All-Pro by the Associated Press, and he is headed to his third career Pro Bowl. For the fourth straight week, Larry has scored a touchdown and had over 100 receiving yards. Also last week, Fitzgerald was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated for his outstanding performance in the Cardinals' 30-24 playoff win over Atlanta.

The Panthers took the opening kickoff and quickly grabbed a 7-0 lead. However, Warner wasted little time getting Fitzgerald the ball, and man, did Fitzgerald come through big. He made a circus-like catch of 41 yards over two defenders in traffic to set up the Cardinals' first score. The inspired Cardinals then scored 33 unanswered points.

What did Warner think of Fitzgerald's performance? “Huge, unbelievable,” he said. “We count on Larry to kick-start our offense, and he didn't disappoint today.” The Cardinals played without their other star receiver, Anquan Boldin, who has a hamstring injury.

“When you get to the playoffs, you have to have your best players make plays,” said Cardinals Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt. “That's what Larry did.”

The Cardinals will host the Philadelphia Eagles next Sunday at 2 pm; the winner goes to Super Bowl XLIII in Tampa, Florida. This is the first trip for the Cardinals to the NFL Final Four. In the AFC, the Baltimore Ravens will travel to Pittsburgh to play the Steelers; it's the third time the AFC Central rivals will play this season.

The Cardinals are one of the highest scoring teams in the NFL, averaging nearly 29 points a game. When the Cardinals score 30 points or more, they are 8-1, including the playoffs this season. They are also 7-2 at home at the University of Phoenix Stadium.

Tony Dungy calls it quits

At the young age of 53, Tony Dungy, the first Black head coach in NFL history to win the Super Bowl and the Vince Lombardi Trophy, has resigned. One of the most successful coaches in NFL history and a pioneer, Dungy attended the University of Minnesota where he earned his bachelor’s20degree. He came to Minnesota because he wanted to play quarterback as a Gopher where Sandy Stephens played.

He became defensive coordinator under Dennis Green in Minnesota with the Vikings in 1992, before he turned two NFL franchises into Super Bowl Champions as a head coach at Tampa Bay and Indianapolis. He got credit for only one.

However, his image as a Black man, head coach, leader, winner, father and husband helps clean up the stereotype that America has portrayed of most Black men: being in prison, hip hopculture with our pants down to our knees and with police sirens in the back ground.

Dungy was a pioneer like his parents, educators from the great state of Michigan. His legacy is the name of his book: Quiet Strength, with a Passion.

Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, and on WDGY-AM 740 Monday & Saturday mornings at 7:50 am and Fridays at 3:50 pm; he also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Larry welcomes reader responses to, or visit

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