In an offseason that has prevented rookies and free agents to properly acclimate with their new franchises as a result of the restrictions put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, players have settled on virtual meetings and various Q&A sessions to get to know one another better. Cohesion and team chemistry are frequently cited when asking about what it takes for NFL teams to win a Super Bowl.
As orders have been lifted in recent weeks and more freedoms and liberties granted back, Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald hosted a dinner party where some members of his position group, and the team, could get to know new addition DeAndre Hopkins better.
Fitzgerald said he has known Hopkins since the latter's time at Clemson and the two have an established rapport. For other guys in the group, they were more unfamiliar. He was just an elite player that they had seen on TV and gone up against when playing the Houston Texans.
"Developing relationships with the new guys and especially DeAndre and the rookies, I think it was not too long ago, we had dinner over at Fitz's house and he invited DeAndre over and (wide receivers) coach (David) Raih and some of the guys that were in town," third-year wideout Christian Kirk said. "We sat down and had dinner, just had a casual dinner night, which was good. First time being able to just sit down and talk to DeAndre, just get to know what kind of guy he is. He's fit in perfectly already. You can already tell that we're all going to have such a strong relationship with one another and just with the words that he's expressed, he's so happy to be here. He's really excited with the type of guys that we have in our room and he can't wait to get on the field with all of us."
In Fitzgerald's mind, it was an opportunity to connect. Something that the entire organization has been longing for since the quarantine was initiated and OTAs and minicamps were canceled.
"We were at my house (in Arizona)," Fitzgerald said. "We were maintaining our distance between all of us. Everybody had their masks on. We were eating with plastic silverware and paper plates, just making sure that we were following the guidelines (Arizona) Governor (Doug) Ducey had laid out for us. I've known DeAndre since he was in college; we've had a great relationship for the last eight, nine years. Somebody that I highly respect and admire, the way he goes about his business. And I couldn't be more happy to be able to have him on the team, another wonderful person for Christian and (wide receivers) Trent (Sherfield) and Hakeem (Butler) and Andy (Isabella) and other young guys to be able to learn from.
"He does it the right way, he works tirelessly on his craft to improve to get better. He's already cemented that with the way he's been in the meetings, how punctual he is with the note taking, the questions that he's asking, the advice he gives to the young guys. It's been unbelievable. The future is going to be extremely bright with him and Christian here for the next, hopefully 10-plus years catching balls here from Kyler. I'm really excited about the future of the Cardinals because they have some really good men."