Arizona WR Fitzgerald meets his No. 1 fan, a 7-year-old SD boy
TEMPE, Ariz. — On June 12, the Arizona Cardinals capped off mini-camp practice with a new play: “Tennyson right.”
It was the perfect play for the 7-year-old southeastern South Dakota boy.
Tennyson Erickson took the handoff from quarterback Josh Rosen, received some blocking from wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and sprinted for a touchdown. Erickson, who was surrounded by the Cardinals, did “The Floss,” dance in the end zone. Fitzgerald — Erickson’s favorite player — then hoisted him on his shoulders and he was mobbed by the entire Cardinals team.
“It’s the thrilling climax to a life-changing experience for Tennyson. He’s on top of the world,” said Chris Connelly, as ESPN’s third of five “My Wish” segments aired Tuesday.
Erickson, from Platte, S.D., was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in February 2017 and is in the second year of a five-year treatment plan. ESPN teams up with Make-A-Wish to fulfill sports-themed wishes for children with critical illnesses.
Connelly and ESPN visited the Erickson family farm near Platte to learn about his leukemia and also his interest in the Cardinals.
“We used to have a bird feeder back here and we had a cardinal back here all the time,” said Randy Erickson, Tennyson’s father.
“He would always want to be the first person to see the cardinal in the morning,” said Diana Erickson, Tennyson’s mother. “Someone had said, ‘Did you realize that there’s a team called the Arizona Cardinals?’ He was like ‘What?’ Then it was 0-to-60, I mean, he just went all in.”
Erickson showed Connelly his pet elk, which he named “Fitz” after Fitzgerald.
“How did you decide to name your elk Fitz?” Connelly asked.
“Because it’s my favorite football player — Larry Fitzgerald — because he catches really good and he makes leapy catches and one-handed (catches) really good,” Erickson said.
Erickson then watched a video of his favorite player inviting him to the Cardinals training facility in Tempe.
“Hey Tennyson,” Fitzgerald said in the video. “I hear you are my No. 1 fan. So as my No. 1 fan, I want you to meet me at the Cardinals facility in Arizona.”
Erickson and his family flew to Arizona, toured the facilities, met players and he posed for pictures in his own customized jersey. The next day, Erickson signed an NFL player contract and received a commemorative pen from Arizona general manager Michael Bidwill.
“Congratulations,” Bidwell said. “You are a Cardinal. That’s awesome. You are officially the youngest Cardinal I have ever signed.”
Erickson’s segment will re-air multiple times during other editions of “SportsCenter,” and will be included in a one-hour “SportsCenter” special featuring all five segments of the 2018 “My Wish” Series at 1 p.m. Aug. 1.