Tampa, Fla. – Larry Fitzgerald Sr.’s recorder was ready. But nearly 40 minutes had past, and he hadn’t pushed the record button since the media availability started for the Pittsburgh Steelers interview session at Super Bowl XLII Tuesday afternoon.
A longtime reporter for the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, a black-owned, weekly newspaper that’s served the community for 75 years, Fitzgerald has covered 28 Super Bowls. However, now the older Fitzgerald has become what most journalists try to avoid – he’s the story.
But it’s easy to understand why reporters were clamoring for Fitzgerald attention, with his son, Larry Fitzgerald, the star receiver for the Arizona Cardinals and one of the players most likely to impact the game on Sunday.
Still, Fitzgerald Sr. wanted to ask players questions just like the rest of his colleagues. So how was that going?
"You know the answer to that," responded Fitzgerald Sr., feigning anger. "No, I haven’t been able to work. I’m trying to do it. I’ve got 17 minutes left, and I’m trying to be a gracious as possible."
Even though he couldn’t get any work done, Fitzgerald Sr. was the proudest father at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday. He looked on as his son answered questions from the media, just the way he taught him – politely answer the question that’s asked and only that question, nothing more, nothing less.
Fitzgerald Sr. is the first father ever to cover his son in the Super Bowl. He said the younger Fitzgerald never wanted to follow in his footsteps into the family trade.
"He said we don’t make enough money," the older Fitzgerald said.
During the Cardinals interview session, Fitzgerald Sr. made eye contact with his son when the younger Fitzgerald slid in a subtle jab to his father, which Fitzgerald Sr. has been on the receiving end on more than one occasion.
"He likes to take little digs at me every now and then," Fitzgerald Sr. said. "That’s fine. That’s what happens between a father and son.
"As parents, you’re going to have disagreements with your son. But the key is to not be disagreeable. So we found a way to recognize that. But we’re both proud men, and we like making our points to each other, and for each other."
Fitzgerald said he knew his son had something special that might propel him to a professional athletic career at 10 years of age. But he never dreamed he would be a reporter coving his son on the biggest sports stage of the year.
"I can’t tell you of how proud I am being a father of a player who’s going to try and win a championship," Fitzgerald Sr. said.
He smiled and nodded to the reporter’s final question. Then he was off to interview Pittsburgh running back Willie Parker, only to receive another tug at his shoulder as he made his way to the podium.