Ryan Fitzpatrick: A Journeyman’s Sojourn

Ryan Fitzpatrick, formerly with the New York Jets, looks to throw the ball.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, formerly with the New York Jets, looks to throw the ball. | Billie Weiss/Getty Images

Veteran NFL quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has had a lot of people believe in him throughout his life. It’s paid off in the form of a long, successful professional career against all odds. Fitzpatrick was born on November 24, 1982, and grew up in Gilbert, Arizona. According to Fitzpatrick’s father, he was quite the athlete in high school — something that carried him into college and eventually his NFL career, despite some shortcomings. His dad told the New York Post:

He certainly wasn’t the underdog in our town. Growing up, he was the best baseball player in the town, he was the best football player in the town, he was one of the best basketball players. Gilbert, Arizona, is not a tiny town.

He was undersized coming out of high school, he was probably only like 5-11 when he was a senior in high school, so he wasn’t very heavily recruited. So I think it was like a frustrating time for us because we knew that he had talent, but he didn’t have the measurables to really be recruited heavily by the Division I-A type programs.

In addition to being a talented football player, Fitzpatrick was also an excellent student. He ended up at Harvard studying mathematics while playing football. In 2003, he took over the starting quarterback job during his junior season. That year, he completed 60.1% of his passes with 1,770 passing yards, 16 touchdowns, and eight interceptions.

Fitzpatrick’s senior season wasn’t quite as good, but the talent was clearly there. He finished by completing just 57.2% of his passes in 10 games, throwing 13 touchdown passes and six interceptions. He collected 1,986 passing yards that year and won the Ivy League MVP award on the back of his team’s undefeated season. All of this set Fitzpatrick up well for the upcoming NFL draft.