This is an article from the Sept. 5, 2011 issue
The five-time Pro Bowler signed an eight-year extension on Aug. 20 that could be worth $120 million, and includes nearly $47 million guaranteed.
DAN PATRICK:Did you buy anything after you signed your new contract?
LARRY FITZGERALD: No, I have everything I need. I'm just trying to win now.
DP:Kevin Kolb said that he crashed at your house during the off-season before he was traded to Arizona. Did he stay on the couch?
LF: No, he had his own room. He came out and worked out with us. It was really good. He throws the ball terrifically. It's been fun having him at practice.
DP:Which receivers around the NFL do you try to learn from?
LF: There are about 10, 11 guys that I watch every week—from Greg Jennings to Andre Johnson to Calvin Johnson to Brandon Marshall. Roddy White. DeSean Jackson. I'm getting film of all these guys, and I'm breaking down their routes and watching their techniques. I'm taking bits and pieces from everybody around the league.
DP:Do you play fantasy football?
LF: Not at all. I think fantasy football is great for the game of football. As a player it's a little annoying because anywhere you go, all people want to do is talk fantasy football. You'll be on the road, and they're like, We hate you, Fitz, but can you score three touchdowns for us because we need to score some points in fantasy football. It's just a little weird.
DP:You got quarterback money. Is it fair to pay receivers or running backs as much as quarterbacks?
LF: I don't know if you can do that. Quarterbacks touch the ball every snap. They're the leaders of your team. Every other position is valuable, but quarterbacks are quarterbacks.
DP:So QBs do deserve more than other positions?
LF: You look at Tom Brady and Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers, and guys that are at the top of their game right now. Those guys are special. You take them away from their team, and who knows what will happen?
DP:What do you think of the league moving kickoffs up five yards?
LF: I know it's going to affect a lot of teams. Think of the Browns and the Bears—teams that have such great special teams. But when 30 percent of injuries happen on special teams, we can take those serious injuries out of the game. It's better for the longevity of the players. The more guys we can keep healthy, the better for the game.
DP:Why not just put the ball on the 20 and abolish the kickoff altogether?
LF: No, I don't think we should get rid of it. It takes away some plays, but it still gives a team the opportunity to return the ball if the kicker doesn't kick it out of the back of the end zone.
DP:What quarterback have you always wanted to catch a pass from?
LF: Last year at the Pro Bowl, I had the honor of warming up with Peyton Manning before the game. That was definitely on my bucket list.
The NCAA handed down a devastating three-year penalty to Bruce Pearl(above) last week for lying to investigators about his actions at Tennessee. I asked Pearl if he considered himself hirable by a university. "I would not hire me right now," Pearl said. "If I don't make these mistakes, I don't get punished. Bottom line." The 51-year-old Pearl said he's considering working for an NBA team or going into broadcasting.... The Atlanta Falcons were 13--3 last season but aren't getting much hype as a Super Bowl team. Pro Bowl receiver Roddy White(above) doesn't mind. "It's really, really good," White told me. "When you start getting a lot of attention, there's a lot of pressure."... Men's tennis has some interesting rivalries, but they lack the heat of 25 years ago. John McEnroe(below) told me that if he didn't fear a long suspension, he'd have taken a swing at some of his opponents: "[Jimmy] Connors, I wanted to fight. I liked my chances. I was willing to duke it out with [Ivan] Lendl, but I probably would have come up short. I'm sure they felt the same way."
"This off-season has been very dramatic and traumatic. It has exposed the biggest and worst problems in intercollegiate athletics. It certainly caused people to give up the benefit of the doubt we may have enjoyed."
—Mark Emmert, NCAA president, on the state of college football