Life imitated art when Arizona Cardinals brought back Larry Fitzgerald, 'Jerry Maguire'-style

Rock legend Glenn Frey, who died Monday, played the fictitious general manager of the Arizona Cardinals in the 1996 film "Jerry Maguire."

In the Cameron Crowe-directed film, Frey's character had to navigate a delicate contract situation with star receiver Rod Tidwell, a role for which Cuba Gooding Jr. won an Oscar for best supporting actor.

Real-life Cardinals GM Steve Keim was in a similar position this past off-season when many people thought the team would part ways with All-Pro receiver Larry Fitzgerald. It was believed that Fitzgerald, entering his 12th season, was on the downside of his career.

Like Frey's character, Keim and the Cardinals figured a way to keep the future Hall of Famer and are certainly glad they did.

Against the Packers on Saturday night, Fitzgerald set a franchise postseason record with 176 yards receiving and won the game with an overtime touchdown.

Unquestionably, the Cardinals are happy they showed Fitzgerald the money.


In the same way they overestimated the support among NFL owners for their Carson plan, the Chargers might be underestimating the difficulty of building a fan base in Los Angeles.

With each hour that passes, L.A. feels increasingly like a one-NFL-team town.

If a second team were to come, there would be far more support for it to be the Raiders, even though they might be the league's most polarizing franchise.


The Rams opened their season-ticket deposit campaign Monday.

The team announced that Magic Johnson was the first fan to put his $100 deposit in to get in line for season tickets.

Johnson, the centerpiece of the Showtime Lakers, won't need GPS to find his way to the Inglewood stadium.


By the time Carolina had built a 31-0 lead Sunday, Seattle had run only 11 offensive plays.

"I don't know how that could happen," Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll said Monday. "But it did."


The AFC championship game pits the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos, franchises that have appeared in a combined 15 Super Bowls and won six of them.

The NFC championship features Arizona and Carolina. Each of those teams is 0-1 in Super Bowls.

Almost as lopsided are the quarterback matchups. New England's Tom Brady and Denver's Peyton Manning have played in a combined nine Super Bowls, winning five. NFC quarterbacks Cam Newton of Carolina and Carson Palmer of Arizona are a combined 3-4 in the playoffs.


Manning's United Way spoof on a 2007 episode of "Saturday Night Live" is a classic. In it, the tightly wound quarterback fumes when the kids on his team can't catch point-blank passes, one bouncing off the back of a boy's head.

A frustrated Manning pulls aside one of his young teammates, telling him: "OK, I'm sorry, do you want to lose? I throw, you catch. It's not that hard."

Seeing as the Denver Broncos had seven drops Sunday — four more than in any game this season — Manning might have been reminding his receivers the same thing.


In Sunday's game against Pittsburgh, TV cameras caught Peyton's dad, Archie, nervously pacing in a suite and looking away from the action at a pivotal point.

"I had been moving around suite searching for lucky spot," Archie explained Monday in a text to The Times. "Found it for that drive. Decided not to look on 3rd down play. May try that again!"

On the play in question, a third and 12, Peyton kept the drive alive with a pass to Bennie Fowler for a 31-yard gain.


In beating Green Bay, Arizona's Carson Palmer won a playoff game for the first time in his 13-year career.

So at least one Carson won last week.


The most amazing play of the Packers-Cardinals game wasn't Aaron Rodgers' 60-yard completion on fourth and 20, or even his Hail Mary touchdown at the end of regulation.

The unbelievable play was referee Clete Blakeman tossing the coin before overtime, and the coin failing to flip.


At their introductory news conference last week, the newly minted Los Angeles Rams had a big cake adorned with a rendering of their Inglewood stadium.

On a related note, Eric Dickerson got a cake from the Rams in 1984 after he set the NFL's single-season rushing record with 2,105 yards.

He was half-expecting a car, seeing as Walter Payton got a Lamborghini from his shoe sponsor when he set the all-time rushing record that same season.

To make matters worse for Dickerson, it was a carrot cake — and he's allergic to nuts.


There were multiple situations in the divisional round when the chain gang had to come out on the field to measure first downs. Although the technology exists for the NFL to do that more quickly and efficiently with lasers, there is reticence to do that. Part of the reason is the league likes the drama of those situations.


The death of Frey brought to mind an encounter he had with my mom about 15 years ago. She was volunteering at a golf tournament Frey was playing in, and gave him a ride in her cart. My mom's the inquisitive type, a gregarious Western Pennsylvanian who loves to chat with people.

If Frey was the voice of a generation, it wasn't my mom's generation.

"What do you do for a living?" she asked.

"Ever heard of the Eagles?" he said.

"The Philadelphia Eagles?" she asked, her voice rising. "I'm from New Castle!"

Twitter: @LATimesfarmer

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
A version of this article appeared in print on January 19, 2016, in the Sports section of the Los Angeles Times with the headline "Had him at `hello' - Fitzgerald's return to Arizona this season was a `Jerry Maguire' moment" — Today's paperToday's paper | Subscribe