NFL

Larry Fitzgerald Meets with CIA Operatives and Takes Samurai Lessons During Offseason

From September to January for the last 16 years, Larry Fitzgerald has been a mainstay for the Arizona Cardinals offense. In the process, the No. 3 pick in the 2004 NFL draft from the University of Pittsburgh has become one of the greatest receivers in NFL history. 

Outside of football, Fitzgerald never makes headlines. That’s because during the offseason, the future Hall of Famer isn’t anywhere near the United States. Instead, Fitzgerald can be found in the far corners of the globe. He’s been a world traveler for years. Now, it’s his business.

Larry Fitzgerald and his early traveling days

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Larry Fitzgerald fell in love with traveling at a young age. Growing up in Minnesota, his family would take their annual vacations to places around the United States, including Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone National Park and Glacier National Park. 

He fondly remembers those trips as a kid and recalls how he knew back then that he wanted to take traveling to the next level when he got older. For Fitzgerald, that’s never meant lounging on a beach drinking umbrella-covered drinks or sitting in a hotel ordering room service. 

“I’m a history guy, and I love really getting to know the people in the countries that I’m visiting,” Fitzgerald told Conde Nast Traveler. “I like to push myself outside of my comfort zone.”

After his rookie season with the Cardinals, Fitzgerald did just that. He traveled to Asia for 45 days. Alone. It was a trip he would never forget as it included a walk on the Great Wall, where he was amazed thinking about all the resources it took to build it. 

Fitzgerald meets future business partner in his travels

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In 2010, Larry Fitzgerald met David Jones, another frequent world traveler. The two had a common bond in traveling and started a friendly competition over who could visit the most countries. Over time, Jones started organizing trips just for Fitzgerald. He arranged for Fitzgerald to meet and talk with a CIA operative in Russia. He set him up with samurai sword lessons in Japan.

In 2013, Jones arranged for Fitzgerald and former teammate Anquan Boldin to visit Ethiopia. The Ethiopians were enduring one of the worst droughts in the country’s history, so the two teammates worked together and helped local farmers identify ways to irrigate their land. 

“I knew we were in the right place at the right time,” Fitzgerald said.” I felt like we did good work.”

A couple of years later, Jones joined Fitzgerald and his former NFL teammate Andre Roberts as they traveled to the Siwa Oasis in Egypt. There they had the opportunity to sit and visit with a Siwa family, a challenge considering how isolated it is and how private the people are. That trip, like so many others, was a moving experience. It was transformative. 

Larry Fitzgerald launches own travel company

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In 2017, after trips to more than 90 countries, Larry Fitzgerald and Jones, decided they wanted to start designing transformative travel for others. They launched Nomad Hill, a travel design company dedicated to creating life-changing experiences.

Make no mistake about it; Nomad Hill isn’t just some agency that says they’ll provide you with life-changing trips. They’ve turned the business into a science by developing an algorithmic tool that identifies where someone has traveled in the past and then provides recommendations for specific destinations and experiences in the future.

Since its creation, the company has designed countless trips that have turned into life-changing experiences for its customers. While Fitzgerald is now in the business of creating travel adventures for others, he has no plans on scaling back his personal traveling exploits anytime soon.

In fact, he’s looking forward to the day when he can travel more frequently. For now, that can wait. Until then, he’s got a few more statistics to add to his Hall of Fame career.