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Time right for Pitt's Fitz


The NFL is said to be in a big push to eliminate tawdry end-zone celebrations and promote sportsmanship and a more dignified post-touchdown behavior. What a coincidence it is that Larry Fitzgerald is coming into the game when he is.

If ever there was an example of perfect timing, it's Fitzgerald's arrival in the NFL. The game needs him. It needs for him to succeed; wants him to succeed. Please, let the kid be a player.

You know the Fitzgerald story: Gentleman in cleats. It was his reputation at Pitt for unceremoniously handing the football to the nearest official immediately following each of his many touchdowns. He never caused Pitt an "excessive celebration" penalty; never trash-talked, lost his cool, complained he wasn't getting the ball enough, gave the number one sign, played to the camera or made any gesture that would draw attention to himself.

It was a shame – no, an embarrassment – college football didn't understand his importance enough to award him the Heisman Trophy. Jason White? You gotta be kidding. It is one of the great misdeeds in college football history that its Heisman Trophy voters mailed in their ballots just prior to White going belly-up in the Big 12 title game. If those buffoons had just held onto their ballots one more week, the Heisman would've been awarded to its true winner, and the award would've enjoyed the name of a player who might go down in history as the man who saved football from becoming professional wrestling.

Oh, please, let the kid be a player.

He can have that kind of dramatic impact on the game. If he is to be the star for which he's being predicted, his post-touchdown behavior could become contagious. If Fitzgerald really is a player, we might see 40 years of evolution reversed to the moment Homer Jones spiked the ball.

Barry Sanders tried to do as much, but couldn't. Apparently, the game wasn't ready for a return to dignity. It needed more celebrating. It needed for celebration to evolve into something tasteless, which it did in recent years when Terrell Owens and Joe Horn included pens and cell phones in their post-score antics.

Maybe this is putting too much pressure on Fitzgerald, but the timing does appear to be right. The NFL wants what he has to offer, which is to say a marketable dignity at a time the league is attempting to more firmly embrace the principles of sportsmanship.

All right, now what if Fitzgerald does all of this as a member of the Jaguars? Imagine Fitzgerald and Byron Leftwich teaming up for the next 10 years, and apparently you already have considered that possibility, since Fitzgerald is clearly the "poll question" fan favorite.

Do you think Leftwich and Fitzgerald might sell some tickets?

The Jaguars are amassing draft picks. They have two threes, two fives and are trying to get an extra pick for Donovin Darius and, if that should happen, it could be the extra pick that would give the Jaguars the ammunition they need to move up for Fitzgerald.

If the kid turns out to be a player, it's hard to imagine a more perfect pick. If he's a player, he'd be worth the price.

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