More than any other player, Larry Fitzgerald is the reason the Arizona Cardinals are hosting the NFC championship game this weekend. His ability to haul down passes in traffic and turn wildly thrown ducks into touchdowns are the primary force behind the apparent rejuvenation of Kurt Warner.
Fitzgerald is so good, in fact, that even after the Cards lost fellow receiver Anquan Boldin — himself a remarkable talent — Fitzgerald STILL found himself wide open against the heavy favorite Carolina Panthers last week.
But you knew all that. What you didn’t know is why he’s so good.
Fitzgerald isn’t particularly big, fast, or strong compared to other NFL receivers. What he does have, according to this article in the Wall Street Journal, is an optometrist grandfather who worked his eyeballs until they were the best they could be:
Mr. Fitzgerald may have a clear advantage in this area. When he was young, his grandfather, Robert Johnson, the founder of a optometry clinic in Chicago, set out to make sure his grandson had “visual dominance” — at first because he was having trouble in school. From the time Mr. Fitzgerald was in first grade, during summer visits, Mr. Johnson would take him to the clinic and have him stand on balance beams and wobbly boards while doing complicated hand-eye drills. By the time his grandson was 12 and emerging as an athlete, Dr. Johnson tailored many of these exercises to athletics. To improve the boy’s precision, control, spatial judgment and rhythm, for instance, Dr. Johnson would hang a painted ball from the ceiling and have him try to hit the colored dots on the ball with the matching colored stripes on a rolling pin.
My childhood athletic training also involved a rolling pin and colored balls. Unfortunately no one ever wants to play Nutsack Cricket with me anymore.
The Spark — The Flaming Lips
I Can’t Help Myself — The Four Tops
Verse Chorus Verse — Nirvana
Sea Go — The Gang
Backwards Walk — Frightened Rabbit
Rhythm and Soul — Spoon
Clean the Clock — Blue Giant
Song for a Winter’s Night — Sarah McLachlan
Resurrection Fern — Iron & Wine
Expecting — The White Stripes
Bonus audio track:
Jerry Springer — The Asskickers
Second Chance — Liam Finn (Live)
The Rules: The Friday Random 10 is exactly that — random. We open up our iTunes, set the thing on shuffle, and listen to 10 songs. We are not permitted to skip any out of embarrassment or fear of redundancy. Commenters are encouraged to post their own.