Meet football's newest 120 million man

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Meet football's newest 120 million man

Monday, August 22, 2011
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) -- The Arizona Cardinals and Larry Fitzgerald have agreed to an eight-year deal that could pay the star receiver as much as 120 million, making it one of the richest deals in the NFL. The agreement, with guarantees near 50 million, is by far the biggest in the franchise's history. Fitzgerald and team president Michael Bidwill appeared at a hastily called news conference Saturday night to announce the agreement. Fitzgerald insisted he "hates this part of sports," but he certainly has made a boatload of money. This is the third major contract he has signed, and he doesn't turn 28 until Aug. 31. "Growing up, since I was 7 years old, this has been the game I love and something I have been so passionate about," Fitzgerald said, "and to have to talk about it on the business side is a little bit uncomfortable. But I am really happy to put it behind us and it wouldn't be possible if it wasn't for the Bidwill family's hard work in making this thing happen." The Cardinals had said they wanted Fitzgerald's new contract wrapped up by the start of the regular season, and they made it with two weeks to spare. Bidwill, son of the team's owner Bill Bidwill, said the Cardinals' intent is to have Fitzgerald retire as a Cardinal "but not anytime soon." Fitzgerald, the third overall park in the 2004 draft at the age of 19, spoke of the opportunity to spend his entire career with one team. "It is an honor," he said. "I am so fortunate. Not many players have that opportunity but Michael has allowed me that opportunity and I just want to repay him with great effort and winning. That is what is important." The 6-foot-3, 218 pound receiver has become the franchise's career leader in receptions with 613 and needs just 294 yards to surpass Roy Green for career yards receiving. In Arizona's surprise run to the Super Bowl in the 2008 season, Fitzgerald shattered most of the NFL playoff receiving records. Fitzgerald has topped 1,000 yards receiving in five of his seven NFL seasons, including the last four. He caught 90 passes for 1,137 yards last season even though Arizona had one of the worst offenses in the league while struggling to a 5-11 record, in large part because of poor quarterback play in the wake of the retirement of Kurt Warner. While Fitzgerald said he never insisted the team make a big move for a quarterback -- "I am not anyone to hold a hammer over anyone's head" -- the Cardinals traded for Kevin Kolb from the Philadelphia Eagles, then signed him to a five-year, 63 million contract, with 21 million guaranteed. Fitzgerald, who organized team workouts during the lockout, had a practice session with Kolb long before the trade. Fitzgerald will be under contract to the Cardinals through the 2018 season. It is not known whether the deal contains the kind of terms that gave him huge leverage over the team under its current deal -- specifically a ban on making him a franchise player and a no-trade clause. The contract could have widespread ramifications around the NFL, particularly in the case of running back Chris Johnson, who is holding out for a new deal with the Tennessee Titans. Johnson tweeted "congratulations to (at)LarryFitzgerald god is good" and Fitzgerald responded with "thanks CJ you up next my guy."

Opportunity knocked in Game 3, and Celtics answered

Opportunity knocked in Game 3, and Celtics answered

CLEVELAND -- Marcus Smart sat at his locker stall late Sunday night, soaking in the moment for all it was worth. 

The Celtics were just minutes removed from one of the biggest playoff upsets ever, knocking off Cleveland, 111-108, a game in which Boston was a 16.5-point underdog.
 
Smart’s play had a lot to do with the win as he scored a career-high 27 points, which included a career-best seven made 3-pointers.
 
But this win was about more than Smart having the game of his life.
 
It was about opportunity, an unspoken rallying cry that has galvanized this Celtics team through what has been a season in which they defied the odds and naysayers time and time again.
 
Boston was supposed to be pretty good this season, but no one predicted the C's would finish with the best record in the Eastern Conference.
 
Isaiah Thomas had a breakout year in 2015-16, but few anticipated he would be even better while putting up numbers that rank among the greatest single seasons in the storied franchise’s illustrious history.
 
Then Thomas goes down with a right hip injury that will keep him out of the remainder of the playoffs, and the Celtics hit the road while trailing the defending champion Cavaliers 2-0. 
 
So what do they do? Oh, not much. 

They just come up with the most epic playoff comeback win ever against a LeBron James-led team.
 
You can dissect what happened Sunday night all you want, but in the end, it came down to one thing: Opportunity.
 
Which is why Boston’s Game 3 win was so sweet. And for those of us who have followed the ups and downs of this team this season recognized it was another example of the Celtics making the most of their opportunity to shock the world.
 
Look no further than Smart, a gritty physical defender whose shot-making isn’t exactly top-10 worthy.
 
No, I’m not talking about top 10 in the NBA. I’m talking top 10 on his team.
 
And yet there he was, delivering his usual strong play defensively while channeling his inner Isaiah Thomas to get big-time buckets in the second half, which included 11 points during a 26-10 run to close out the third and bring Boston within 87-82 going into the fourth.
 
With the surge came more opportunities for other Celtics like Kelly Olynyk, who gets the superstar treatment in Cleveland with more boos than any other Boston player. (They have not forgotten about that Olynyk-Kevin Love incident a couple years ago, apparently.)
 
Olynyk soaked in the boos while coming off the bench to splash the Cavs defense for 15 points on 5-for-8 shooting.
 
“Keep fighting, keep fighting,” Olynyk told me when I asked him about what Game 3’s win says about this team. “You can knock us down but we’ll keep getting back up. That’s what we did out there.”
 
Opportunity.
  
The Celtics had their moment on Sunday night, reminding us just how tough-minded a bunch they can be when they are boxed in a corner and left with two choices: Fight or face inevitable elimination.
 
Because had they lost Game 3, they would have been down 3-0 in the series. And no one needs reminding that no NBA team has ever come back from an 0-3 playoff deficit.
 
Fortunately for them, that’s no longer an option.
 
Instead, they have a chance to even this series up and regain home court advantage if they can win Game 4, which, much like Game 3, seems a long shot.
 
They don’t care.
 
It has never been about being the favorite or underdog. It’s about the opportunity, something the Celtics gave themselves with Sunday’s win.

Monday, May 22: Senators all out of playoff magic?

Monday, May 22: Senators all out of playoff magic?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while feeling like we’ll be getting a Pittsburgh/Nashville Stanley Cup Final, which I suppose would be the best possible outcome at this point.

*You hear the name and it just gets you angry all over again if you grew up watching the Bruins. Ulf Samuelsson is in the running for an assistant coaching job with the Chicago Blackhawks, according to a report.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Chris Johnston says it appears that the time is running out on a Cinderella season for the Ottawa Senators.

*A taste of winning at the world championships with Team Sweden could fuel Alex Edler’s desire for a change from the rebuilding Vancouver Canucks.

*Interesting piece on a former can’t miss goaltending prospect with the Nashville Predators that ended up totally missing, and what he’s been up to in life since then.

*Guy Boucher explains to Pro Hockey Talk why he kept changing goaltenders in the Game 5 blowout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

*Don Cherry explains that he hates afternoon hockey during his Coach’s Corner from Hockey Night in Canada in the Game 5 blowout between the Penguins and Predators.

*A good piece from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Alex Prewitt on the Nashville Predators, and the evolution of the franchise into a team on the verge of a Stanley Cup Final appearance.

*For something completely different: What a win by the Boston Celtics in Game 3 in Cleveland, and quite an interesting, fired up interview with Al Horford afterward.