Larry Fitzgerald has had a resurgent year with the Arizona Cardinals, who finished the regular season at 13-3 and ended up with the No. 2 seed in the NFC. He pulled in a career-high 109 passes this season and at 32 years old, he became the youngest player in NFL history to total 1,000 career receptions.
But his age also means he is staring down at what may be his last opportunity to add a Super Bowl title to his impressive list of career accomplishments.
Earlier in the season, Fitzgerald told ESPN's Jim Trotter that a Super Bowl ring is his focus at this point of his career.
"When you're younger, you're trying to get your next deal and get to Pro Bowls," Fitzgerald said. "It's a lot more me, me, me when you're building your résumé. You want touches and touchdowns. Well, I've got numbers. I've got money. I've got everything beside what we all play for, and that's a championship."
If the Cardinals make it to Super Bowl 50, it will be Fitzgerald's second time ever in the big game. The Cardinals faced the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLIII and came up just short of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. Arizona trailed 20-7 in the fourth quarter and then went on a tear, surging back to take a 23-20 lead thanks in large part to two receiving touchdowns from Fitzgerald. The Steelers answered with a touchdown, and a Kurt Warner fumble on the ensuing Cardinals drive sealed the 27-23 win for the Steelers.
Fitzgerald is set to play in the eighth postseason game of his 12-year career when the Cardinals host the Green Bay Packers in the Divisional round. He already owns several playoff records, including the most catches (30), receiving yards (546) and receiving touchdowns (seven) in a single postseason.
Perhaps even more for his impressive play on the field, Fitzgerald is known for his friendly personality.
Even the most outspoken cornerbacks in the league like Richard Sherman and Josh Norman have said they need to prepare themselves for an onslaught of kindness when the face off against Fitzgerald.
"He’s just a genuine human being," former Steelers defensive back Ike Taylor told Kevin Clark of the Wall Street Journal. "You can’t trash talk that."
The respects he gets from his teammates is even more pronounced. Michael Floyd has credited Fitzgerald with teaching him how hard he needed to work to succeed as a pro receiver.
"I could sit here all day and talk about how beneficial it’s been to play and learn under a guy like Larry," Floyd wrote in an essay for The Players' Tribune. "And at the end of the day, I hope my development and success can benefit him by giving him the extra space he needs to make the big plays he’s become known for making, and eventually help get him that Super Bowl ring he’s been chasing since he’s been in the league."
Before the 2015 season, Fitzgerald's productivity had been in sharp decline. Due to a number of factors -- a revolving door at quarterback, lingering knee injury, a move to slot receiver -- Fitzgerald hadn't topped 1,000 yards receivers in three straight seasons. He finished the 2014 season with just 784 yards and a career-low two touchdowns in 14 games.
At that point, some might have written Fitzgerald off as a has-been. But then came his revival. Alongside a healthy Carson Palmer, Fitzgerald finished the regular season tied for fifth in the league for receptions and ranked ninth in the league for total receiving yards with 1,215. The Cardinals' offense has been dominant, ranking No. 1 in total offense and coming in second in passing offense with 288.5 yards per game.
The Cardinals are a complete team, too. The defense is ranked fifth in the league, and that gives them a good shot to make it back to the Super Bowl this year.
Fitzgerald isn't getting younger, but the good news is that considering the way the Cardinals have played this season, that elusive Super Bowl ring seems attainable. And it couldn't happen to a nicer guy.