Larry Fitzgerald Works to 'Close the Divide'

Howard Balzer

Last Sunday, Cardinals wide receiver and Minneapolis, Minnesota, native Larry Fitzgerald penned an essay in the New York Times to reflect the depth of his feelings following the killing of George Floyd less than a mile from where he spent a large amount of his childhood.

In a Friday conference call with Phoenix-area media, Fitzgerald was adamant that amid all the words written and said in the last 18 days, what’s most important is finding a way to “close the divide.”

It’s often said that big-name athletes should use their platforms to speak out more, but Fitzgerald said, “For the most part, I try to stay out of politics. I take a little bit different stance; this is me speaking. This is not all athletes or anybody in particular. I really don't care what somebody that can catch a football or dunk a basketball says, to be honest with you. I just don't. I'm not influenced by some singer or rapper. I'm just not influenced by that. The people that you want to hear from are the politicians on the federal level and the local level because at the end of the day, they're the ones that truly affect the way we live our lives, the way our communities are policed, the sentencing for people that commit crimes, all the things that on a day-to-day basis are direct results of elected officials.

“So, those are the people that we need to focus our attention on because their words are the ones that are most important in terms of the changes that are going to happen.”

Entering his 17th season, Fitzgerald did, however, acknowledge that others with a platform can help.

“I'm not naive to the fact that people look up to people in positions, that have platforms,” Fitzgerald said. “I'm not naive to the fact that you potentially can make an impact. I'm just talking about me personally and that I'm not really moved one way or the other by somebody that isn’t a legislator or national leader, voted in by the public. Because their opinions and their work, what they're doing is going to be what’s most important because that's going to effect change.”

Fitzgerald is using his influence to talk to those in power. In recent weeks, he spoke to Arizona Governor Doug Ducey and attorney general Mark Brnovich. When he went back to Minneapolis in the days after Floyd was killed, he spoke to and met with leaders there and participated in protests with his 12-year-old son, Devin.

Overall, Fitzgerald said, “I will definitely make sure that my presence is felt. And I really want people to believe it's important now to not just do a lot of talking. It was important for me to say what I felt and what I believe to be right in my heart. But now it's just about action, about serving in the community and closing the divide. And that's really what my focus is right now is trying to do that here (in Minneapolis) and trying to do it in Arizona because of my influence.”

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