After a decade wait, Larry Fitzgerald and Adrian Peterson are finally teammates.
There’s a long history of “what ifs” for Arizona sports fans. What if the Suns had won a coin flip for Lew Alcindor? What if Luis Gonzalez hadn’t hurt his shoulder in the 2002 playoff run? What if the Cardinals had drafted running back Peterson in 2007?
We’ll never know the answer to the first two questions but Cardinals fans finally get to see Peterson in a Cardinals uniform on Sunday. The Cardinals traded a conditional sixth-round draft pick to the Saints for the future Hall of Famer.
“We have a championship if we would have got him then. No knock on Levi, he was a great teammate over the years,” said fellow future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald when asked about the Cardinals passing on Peterson for left tackle Levi Brown. “He scored 100 plus touchdowns in nine to 10 seasons. You can’t argue with that productivity, NFL MVP. He’s been fun to watch from a distance. It’s always been kind of sour that we could have had him.”
The two have met seven times on the field in their careers. Peterson has won five of them. His story has been well chronicled. After winning NFL MVP in 2012, Peterson was suspended for most of the 2014 season after being charged with violently disciplining his child. Peterson returned to Vikings in 2015 and was named, along with Fitzgerald, First Team All-Pro. The Vikings declined his contract option after the end of the 2016 season.
“I’ve known Larry for a long time and I’ve never heard the excitement in his voice that I heard when he called,” said Peterson after his first practice with the Cardinals on Tuesday. “It felt good to hear that, coming from a good friend. He knows what I’ve been going through.”
Peterson is currently staying in Fitzgerald’s guest house. Their bond extends beyond their Minnesota roots. Fitzgerald asked a media member to fetch his phone during his Thursday news conference to show a picture that Peterson sent to him when the trade was announced. It showed the two at the Touchdown Club of Columbus dinner in 2003.
“He was the high school player of the year and I was the college player of the year back in 2003,” said Fitzgerald with a smile. “We’ve stayed in touch and been cool ever since that first meeting.”
Over the years, the two stars could often be seen meeting up on the field after games. They did wonder what their careers would have been like if the Cardinals would have drafted Peterson.
“Flashback probably would have did things differently,” said Peterson. “I’m sure Oakland would have did things differently too. But, I’m here now. Things have come full circle so I’m going to make the most of my opportunity."
Peterson says he’d like to play four more seasons. This season, he’ll finally have a major impact in what could be the final chapter of Larry Fitzgerald’s legendary career.
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