Best Male Athlete (2013)

Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals

Year in and year out, Larry Fitzgerald's labeled the best wide receiver in pro football. But he's really been the best wide receiver in the National Football League with nobody to throw the ball to him. Well, not nobody, but the list of dismal quarterbacks since Kurt Warner's retirement is stifling. Can anyone say Kevin Kolb? (Don't worry, nobody can — the last name's pronounced Cobb.) The Cardinals paid a lot of money for this dud, only to have to give up on the dream that the former Philadelphia Eagles starter (briefly) could take the Cardinals to the promised land.

But, hey, now there's hope: In the off-season, the team signed Carson Palmer, who had good years with the Cincinnati Bengals, and before that, the University of Southern California. Sure, he played for the Oakland Raiders last year and didn't impress. Nobody does with the horrible Raiders. But we think he's just the medicine that Larry Fitzgerald needs to return to the dominance he showed when Warner was slinging passes to him. (Full disclosure: We said nearly the same thing a couple of years ago about Kolb — but Palmer's a proven commodity who hasn't spent his pro career on injured reserve).

Okay, let's forget about last year's disastrous Cards season and quote stats from Fitz's glory years: In the post-season leading up to the Cardinals berth in the 2008 Super Bowl, he had a record-breaking 30 receptions for 544 yards. The lanky former Minnesota Vikings ballboy (his dad was a sportswriter for the local daily) and perennial Pro Bowl selection can do it all, especially jump way above defenders and pull down passes in double-coverage. And when he's not doing that, he's got a passel of defenders devoted to him, and the other guys get hit for big plays. Pray we're right this time, and he and Palmer take the team to greatness.


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