Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald says he can remember every one of his touchdowns. Columnist Kent Somers puts him to the test.
Arizona Republic

Every Thursday during the NFL season, reporters gather around an empty chair near a locker at the end of a row in the middle of the Cardinals locker room.

It’s the day receiver Larry Fitzgerald meets with media, and if you don’t stake a position early, you find yourself boxed out when Fitzgerald enters the room and takes a seat.

The sessions are usually productive, especially so over the last few years because Fitzgerald has been more willing to reflect on his 14-year career.

It was in one of these sessions last season that Fitzgerald mentioned that he could remember details of every one of his touchdowns.

Not just the 110 that he’s scored in the regular season, the 10 in the playoffs and the 34 he scored in college at Pittsburgh. He also remembered every one he scored in high school at the Academy of the Holy Angels in Minneapolis, he said.

Every one of them? Someone asked.

Every one of them, Fitzgerald said.

It’s not uncommon for great athletes to possess photographic memories, at least when it comes to their sport. LeBron James can break down minutes of basketball games, possession-by-possession. Bill Russell can describe sequences of his games at the University of San Francisco.  Aaron Rodgers can recite specifics of a play he ran in high school.

Fitzgerald might not be in their class when it comes to remembering moments on the field, but his recall is impressive.

“I wouldn’t say it’s photographic,” Fitzgerald said of his memory, “but things that are important to me I can remember pretty well.”

This week, I tested Fitzgerald’s memories of his touchdowns when he met individually with reporters at Dominick’s Steakhouse in Scottsdale to publicize a dinner on Aug. 27 to raise money for his foundation.

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Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald talks with Kent Somers about his up and coming Fitz Supper Club at Dominick’s Steakhouse benefiting his First Down Fund.
Arizona Republic

I picked several touchdowns to ask Fitzgerald about. I avoided the ones every Cardinals fan remembers and reviewed what video was available of the plays selected.

I also mixed them up chronologically when I quizzed Fitzgerald.

All Fitzgerald asked is that I give him the date and the location of the game, he would take it from there.

As you will be able to tell, Fitzgerald’s overall recall is excellent. He missed on some details, which I guess is to be expected when you’ve played 14 NFL seasons and caught 110 touchdown passes (eighth-most in NFL history) from 14 different quarterbacks.

1. Sept. 18, 2011, at Washington

Fitzgerald didn’t have to think about this one.

“I caught a ‘sluggo’ against DeAngelo Hall. I ran a slant and a go (thus the name, sluggo) and I took it up the sideline for I think 71 or 72 yards.”

(It was 73 yards.)

“The quarterback was John Skelton, I believe.”

Fitzgerald got this play exactly right, except the quarterback was Kevin Kolb. Kolb might not remember it, either. He took a vicious hit that nearly knocked his helmet off and looked wobbly after.

It also was the 66th receiving touchdown for Fitzgerald, tying Roy Green for most in franchise history.

2. Oct. 26, 2014, home against the Eagles

“It was against Nmamdi (Asomugha). I caught a deep post on him.”

Fitzgerald had the route correct but missed on the defensive back. Asomugha was no longer with the Eagles in 2014. The defenders involved were Bradley Fletcher and Brandon Boykin, two forgettable players.

Fitzgerald had other details of the 80-yard play correct, however.

“It was actually like a little ‘hot’ (route),” he said. “I got up the middle and almost got caught. The guy chasing me pulled a hamstring and I got away with it.”

Receiver Ted Ginn Jr. made a key block, and teammate John (Smoke) Brown nearly caught up to Fitzgerald and the defenders.

“Smoke comes up on everybody,” Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald knew Carson Palmer threw the pass. He also knew that he only scored twice that season, a career low.

“That was a rough year,” Fitzgerald said with a smile.

3. Sept. 11, 2005, at Giants

“That was my first 100-yard game, and – let me think – that was an out-route. I was elated. Michael Strahan gave me his shoes after the game and told me I had a bright future. I thought I was the man after that.”

Correct, it was Fitzgerald’s first 100-yard game, and it was also the first of 39 touchdown passes Kurt Warner threw to Fitzgerald.

On this one-yard touchdown, Fitzgerald lined up tight to the formation, held a block for a second and then released to the outside.

He remembered all that. I mentioned to Fitzgerald that he wasn’t known as much of a blocker in his younger days.

“I do tend to block,” he said. “I did back then; it just wasn’t as publicized. Emmitt Smith and Edgerrin James, those guys expected you to be blocking. They let you know, ‘Hey, we’re back here blocking for you guys, you better do your job, too.’”

4. Jan. 2, 2011, at San Francisco, the last game of the 2010 season.

“It’s at Candlestick, right?”

Yes, or whatever name Candlestick went by then.

“I caught a fade on Nate Clements in the left end zone.”


And the quarterback?

Fitzgerald drew a blank.

John Skelton.

Another mistake, Fitzgerald was not happy with himself.

Because Fitzgerald looked disappointed in himself at this point, I tried to end the interview on a high note. I asked him to name his favorite touchdown at Holy Angels.

There was no hesitation.

“It was my junior year and John Stocco threw me an out-stretched one. I went up one-handed, caught it and the defender kind of went right by me and I run up the sideline.”