Larry Fitzgerald: Athletes Want to Play Even If Fans Aren't There Amid COVID-19

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistMay 4, 2020

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) runs against the San Francisco 49ers during the first half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/John Hefti)
John Hefti/Associated Press

Larry Fitzgerald doesn't mind playing in empty stadiums, so long as he gets to play. 

"Us as pro athletes, we want to be out there even if it's not in front of fans," the Arizona Cardinals star said Monday on Coffee with Cal (h/t Jerry Tipton of the Lexington Herald-Leader).

The NFL is currently planning to begin the 2020 season on time in September despite concerns about the coronavirus, with the schedule set to release this week, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN. The league has had discussions about playing in empty stadiums, but the NFL has "visions of fans in the stands."

Fitzgerald announced his return to the NFL for his 17th season in January, signing a one-year, $11 million deal.

A shortened or canceled season would be especially damaging for the veteran, who considered retirement and likely has limited time remaining in the NFL. The 36-year-old already ranks second in league history with 1,378 catches for 17,083 yards, trailing only Jerry Rice in each category.

The 2020 season could provide him a chance to add to his resume while possibly climbing as high as fourth on the all-time receiving touchdowns list. He currently ranks sixth with 120 in his career.

Arizona could also be an exciting team next season with head coach Kliff Kingsbury and quarterback Kyler Murray each entering their second year in the NFL. The organization made a splash by acquiring DeAndre Hopkins in a trade with the Houston Texans.

Though athletes like LeBron James have spoken out against playing games without fans, Fitzgerald just wants to be on the field.