In the world of sports, “journeyman” is one of the worst words you can use to describe a player. While it might sound benign, that label implies the player isn’t good enough to hold down a job; instead, he bounces around the league, suiting up wherever he can, without making much of an impact along the way. Ryan Fitzpatrick, however, has done things a bit differently.
During his 15 seasons in the NFL, the veteran quarterback has suited up for eight different teams. While that might suggest that he isn’t very good, his numbers actually tell a different story. During Week 1 of the 2020 NFL season, Ryan Fitzpatrick can pass some big names in the league’s record book.
Ryan Fitzpatrick’s unconventional NFL career
When you think of college football, you probably jump to the SEC or the Big 10. Ryan Fitzpatrick, however, cut his teeth in the Ivy League.
After playing his college ball at Harvard and famously breezing through the Wonderlic Test, Fitzpatrick joined the St. Louis Rams as the 250th pick of the 2005 draft. He spent two seasons with the club; while he didn’t see much action, it was the start of his football odyssey.
In 2007, Fitzpatrick joined the Cincinnati Bengals; he sat on the bench for one season before taking over the starting job, but he failed to make much of an impact. After two seasons in Ohio, he signed with the Buffalo Bills, setting the stage for some unprecedented stability. The quarterback would spend four seasons in Western New York before moving on again.
Fitzpatrick then played a single seasons with the Tennessee Titans and another campaign with the Houston Texans; after that, he spent two seasons with the New York Jets. The veteran joined the Buccaneers in 2017, backed up Jameis Winston for two years, and moved across Florida to become a Miami Dolphin. While Tua Tagovailoa is waiting in the wings, Fitzpatrick is still holding onto the starting job.
A chance to pass some big names in the NFL record book
If you ask your average football fan about Ryan Fitzpatrick, they’ll tell you that he’s a solid, if unremarkable, quarterback, capable of producing some moments of magic. In Week 1 of the 2020 NFL season, though, the veteran can pass some big names in the league record book.
Coming into the season, Fitzpatrick has thrown for 32,886 yards in his career. While that number might not mean much in isolation, it does put him within touching distance of some legendary names.
If the veteran can throw for more than 238 yards during Miami’s season opener, Fitzpatrick will move into 36th place on the league’s all-time passing yards list; that will put him ahead of three Hall of Fame quarterbacks, Troy Aikman, Steve Young, and Y.A. Tittle. Even if he can’t do it on Sunday, he should easily pass those NFL legends during Week 2.
Those aren’t bad names for anyone, let alone a journeyman, to pass.
Despite some mitigating factors, Ryan Fitzpatrick’s numbers are nothing to sneeze at
Before going any further, it’s important to underscore that passing three Hall of Fame quarterbacks doesn’t mean Ryan Fitzpatrick is destined for a place in Canton; he’s had the benefit of a lengthy career during an offense-friendly era. With that being said, though, it does help contextualize the quarterback’s legacy.
Despite being a journeyman, Fitzpatrick has carved out a legitimate niche in the NFL. While you’d never want him leading a legitimate contender onto the field every Sunday, he’s more than capable of playing for a bottom-half team. There will be some ugly games along the way, but there will also be a few moments of Fitzmagic.
If anything, Ryan Fitzpatrick’s place on the all-time passing leaderboard should serve as a reminder that every professional athlete is still incredibly talented. Even an NFL journeyman is better than you’d think; even if there are mitigating factors, throwing for almost 35,000 yards and spending 15 seasons in the pros is nothing to sneeze at.
Stats courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference