Sitting at the Iron Range Bar and Grill inside the Xcel Energy Center, after a Minnesota Wild press conference, one would think to only see crazy die-hard hockey journalists eating hot dogs and Walleye fingers.
Tell that to Larry Fitzgerald Sr.
Fitzgerald, a sportswriter for the Minnesota-based Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, has spent over 30 years covering football, a game he loved, a game in which he too was a gifted athlete.
He attended Indiana State University, during the same time Larry Bird was played college ball for the Sycamores.
Fitzgerald Sr. had dreams of being a professional athlete, similar to his son, All-Pro Arizona Cardinal wideout Larry Fitzgerald Jr. When it didn't pan out, he devoted himself to being a journalist, and one of the best.
It didn't even occur to me that this nice gentleman sitting next to me was the father of one of the most talented receivers in the NFL.
I started to chat with him, not even knowing his name, just trying to get to know the man kind enough to share lunch with me.
I asked him how he started out his journalism career and he told me how he first started off by volunteering for local Minnesota radio stations, including the highly acclaimed WCCO Radio/T.V.
"After a while I basically put myself in a position where I created my own job," he said.
His work has not come without question or skepticism, even after covering 30 Super Bowls, including Super Bowl 43, where his son suffered a tough 27-23 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
He became the first journalist to cover his son at a Super Bowl; yet other writers criticized him for writing about his son, and nothing else.
When asked what he likes to write about, he simply said, "I go where the story is."
To me, his response was an eye-opening one.
In sports, we have the predictable pregame and postgame stories, the upsets, the predictions, and the celebrations.
Where are the feature stories on the lives of athletes? Their struggles, fights, and accomplishments?
Fitzgerald Sr. should be someone for young journalists to look up to. He applied himself to be the best at a craft that he loves, a testimate to the saying, "when you love what you do, you never work a day in your life."
In a sense, here at Bleacher Report, we are all like the senior Fitzgerald in his younger years. We volunteer our time to move up in the ranks, for someone to read our work and hopefully get to the point where our hobby, our passion, and sometimes obsession gets recognized.
For me, a Community Leader now, I started off writing about a team I love. Now I lead a community pushing for the newest and best content.
As I noticed what appeared to be a Super Bowl ring on his left hand, and that every media guru simply called him "Larry," that's when I put it all together.
From the success of his son, you can tell that he taught him well as a father. Apply yourself, don't be afraid, and simply want to become the best.
Although my conversation with this man was less than 30 minutes, I probably felt more inspired and driven than I have ever felt in any classroom.
So, future writers, do what Larry Fitzgerald Sr. does: Be the best, find the stories, and even better, find the stories that no one knows.
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