By: Jason Sarney
On the day after losing his starting job as quarterback of the Miami Dolphins, Ryan Fitzpatrick led off a Miami Media Zoom session on Wednesday afternoon in which his normal, jovial, ear-to-ear smiling personality, was not on full display. What was, however, was a brutally and agonizingly honest discussion with writers and reporters about the reality of the business of football.
In a fun football movie, Draft Day, legendary yet fictitious Cleveland Browns general manager, Sonny Weaver Jr., uttered the phrase –
“No one can stop a ticking clock, but the great ones find a way to slow it down"
Weaver, played by Kevin Costner, was referring to quarterbacks like Joe Montana and John Elway and Peyton Manning who for some reason, had the ability to make a clock move a little slower, or at least seemingly so for only them and their 10 offensive compatriots.
Ryan Fitzpatrick is not one of those quarterbacks, and he is not able to slow a clock down as much as he isn’t able to stop Father Time. What was painfully displayed on Wednesday afternoon was the realization that although not at all ready, Fitzpatrick has officially become an NFL backup quarterback…again.
What is officially the NFL’s take of a gun-slinging, journeyman from a spaghetti western flick, the ageless wonder who has one less child then the eight NFL teams he has played for, perhaps could be on his last ride into the NFL sunset.
But don't tell Fitzpatrick that.
Like any good movie with a hero, there is an ending open for interpretation and perhaps a comeback. For anyone listening to Ryan Fitzpatrick pour his heart out with his candor during this media session, it was obvious that there is pain that comes with the passing of a torch, regardless of time, age, circumstance. Fitzpatrick made it clear that while most would assume this is his last rodeo, this cowboy, although never playing in Dallas, may not have had his last ride just yet.
An emotional Fitzpatrick was brutally honest and open about the official move to make Tua Tagovailoa Miami’s starting quarterback going forward, as he said, "I was shocked by it...it definitely caught me off guard.”
He added, “it was a hard thing for me to hear yesterday, just digesting the news.”
"My heart just hurt all day."
While fully aware of his role as mentor/backup and accepting of it, Fitzpatrick made his preference clear, stating with vigor, “I definitely like playing more than I like sitting and watching."
He will not just be watching, as his role will continue to be to help the education and maturation of Tua, and he is yet again, aware.
"I have to do my best, for Tua, to help him out,” said the 16-year NFL veteran with 25% of the NFL’s teams on his resume.
Moving forward, we all now can witness another story within a story, as the drama of the rebuilding Miami Dolphins turned to a new chapter on Tuesday, October 20th, 2020. It was the day that announced the new red-letter date in Miami Dolphins history. A future Week 8 contest on November 1st, against the team coach Brian Flores helped defeat just two Super Bowl’s ago in the Los Angeles Rams when the Patriots bested them.
As for the folk-hero and instant Miami legend that is Ryan Fitzpatrick, his words to the media were almost tear-jerking, yet filled with a motivational message for those who are told that their time is up, or it’s someone else’s...
"This was the first place other than Buffalo I felt fully committed and invested and felt this was my team, Fitzpatrick said. “A lot of the reason my heart was heavy yesterday."
"I just have to accept it."
In what could have been a cinematic monologue during an Act 3 scene where a fictional athlete may be nearing the end, Fitzpatrick sent what I interpreted as a message to the league.
"I’m always ready to go; I can probably come out of the stands in 5 years if I need to without having thrown a football."
If this is the last rodeo, may I be early in saying on behalf of the Miami Dolphins fan base...Thank you, Fitz...and a tip of the cap to you.
You can follow Jason on Twitter @OrangeAquaman and the PhinManiacs PodCast