On the football field, Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald likes to let his play speak for itself. It’s a different story when it comes to softball.
“You smack talk for things you don’t do well. Football, I don’t talk at all because I feel like I’m solid,” Fitzgerald said. “In softball you talk to amp yourself up a little bit because you know you really can’t play. So that’s what I do.”
Smack talk was alive and well at the 8th annual Larry Fitzgerald Celebrity Softball Game at Salt River Fields. The game benefits Fitzgerald’s First Down Fund and brought out celebrities who were determined to both raise money and back up their talk.
“You’ve seen on Twitter I’ve been harassing [Fitzgerald] for the last few days,” Terrell Owens said ahead of the game.
Fitzgerald was active on Twitter promoting the event all week leading up to it. He and Cardinals running back David Johnson chirped back and forth at each other.
“His batting is bad,” Fitzgerald explained ahead of the game. “He’s a heck of a running back, best in the business, but his batting is atrocious.
Fitzgerald tweeted pictures of all the celebrities competing, often with action shots or pictures from past games. He also mysteriously chose a picture of Adrian Peterson in a business suit.
“I don’t know why Fitz picked that picture out of all pictures, but it’s okay. I’m gonna make him pay for it here in a second,” Peterson said between warmups.
Peterson would team up with Owens, who, not surprisingly, was very confident he would leave Salt River Fields victorious. Fitzgerald felt otherwise.
“That’s gonna be tough for him to do today. Little does he know I have a little something to do with the lineups,” Fitzgerald joked.
But it seemed Owens had already noticed some changes to the lineup.
“Larry can’t even hit. And I see last year they had David Johnson on his team, and he can’t even hit, so he put him on our squad. So I’ve been taking David, putting him in the batting cages so he’s gonna be ready to go today,” Owens said.
“I really saw how big David was, so I created this acronym: BFNR. And I hate to say it because he’s on our team, but BFNR is ‘big for no reason,’ ’cause he’s big and he can’t hit. But I’m about to rally around David today, and I’m going to get this win.”
Despite the fact that he allegedly took Johnson to the batting cages, Owens said he didn’t need too much work himself.
“I’m an athlete, so I don’t really have to prep,” he said.
Johnson would have the last laugh though, as his time in the batting cages paid off with a home run.
The event pulled athletes from a few different sports. Other NFL players included Brandon Marshall, Calais Campbell and Drew Stanton.
NFL draft prospect and Scottsdale native Christian Kirk joined too. The Texas A&M wide receiver was excited to compete for the first time, noting that he looks up to Fitzgerald on and off the field.
“He’s had a good influence, just to be able to talk to him here and there,” Kirk said. “The way he carries himself is definitely something I look up, so any opportunity I get to learn from him, I take.”
Christian Kirk talks to Katherine Fitzgerald about his NFL draft prep and softball skills at the Larry Fitzgerald Celebrity Softball Game on Saturday.
Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi and Suns guard Devin Booker were there as well, though Taurasi noted she was somewhat out of her element.
“Basketball would be chess, and softball would be UNO. I don’t know if that’s a good comparison,” she said when asked about her softball skills. “I haven’t played in a long time.”
Despite all the playful trash talking, at the end of the day players from both teams were glad to support Fitzgerald and his cause.
“I admire him as much as anyone else,” Taurasi said. “He’s a kind guy. There’s people who do a lot of stuff, and they do it for show. He genuinely likes doing it and wants to help people and bring the community together. That’s just the type of guy Larry is.”