Fitzmagic Fizzles Out of Buffalo

Fitzmagic Fizzles Out of Buffalo

Lauding professional athletes for “wanting it” is rarely a rewarding undertaking. For one thing, most people would rather win than lose.

Yet it somehow seems worthwhile in the case of Ryan Fitzpatrick, a guy who fit the Buffalo sports mold just about as snugly as possible. He wasn’t quite big enough, strong enough or good enough to be a star quarterback. Most would say he didn’t have the attributes to be a starting quarterback. He wasn’t a physical or emotional specimen. Frankly, in terms of football lore, his beard may go down as his standout attribute.

But the reason Bills fans wanted to Fitz to succeed wasn’t just because he was their team’s quarterback, as it was for Trent Edwards, Drew Bledsoe or myriad other passers of the past. He was an honorary Buffalonian, somber as this may be, the sort who should be handed a dinged-up key that fits the lock of the city but takes a crap ton of jiggling to get it to budge.

When he took the reigns as starting quarterback, he was your quintessential beloved backup. In Buffalo, there’s no one as popular as the No. 2; It’s easier to imagine someone could do it better than the No. 1 guy, after all. Otherwise, it’s just a garbage pile from top-to-bottom.

So when this bearded middle-of-the-roader started tossing more touchdowns than interceptions, fans genuinely needed┬áto see him succeed for the good of their collective sanity. He was the restaurant opening downtown in an unsavory spot that keeps operating against the odds, continuing to serve pretty decent food that gets 5-star reviews because, well, it’s open.

I know this isn’t sexy or even complimentary. Part of me thinks about Fitz reading this and getting the wrong impression. Even while I was slamming the book shut on him as Bills quarterback, every single bit of my Buffalo fan-being (or what’s left of it) was taking the brunt of that impact on the ankle. Seriously, how many times did you hear someone say, “If only we could put Fitz’s head on JP’s body” over the past three years? And it made sense. Remember “Buffalo Lives?” Losman wanted to single-handedly bring this city back. He loved it here, too. He just wasn’t good enough.

Here was a tough dude who broke bones but didn’t want to admit it, who had the guts and gusto to make Favre decisions without the Favre arm. He’s the guy who got the extra six yards on 3rd-and-5 by scrambling and getting clobbered… only to throw three dicey incompletions on the way to a punt.

Think about the quarterbacking ideas that have now failed the Bills since Jim Kelly left town:

1) The replacement in waiting
2) The long-serving backup
3) The tiny CFL afterthought
4) The “intriguing 2nd stringer from somewhere else”
5) The former superstar who lost his job
6) Kelly Holcomb
7) The first-round pick
8) The “highly-recommended from a football genius” guy
9) The former potential No. 1 overall pick who stayed in school and dropped.
10) The free agent (See the rest of this article)

There's a Sporcle quiz here, for goodness sake

 

That’s what Fitz was… the final straw for Bills fans before hitting the actual bottom. They kept buying tickets and stomaching blows from team, ownership and what surely felt like society at-large in this “NFL first, nothing else second” sports climate run by ESPN. Buffalo wanted to believe that this regular acting, humble guy without most the visible the attributes you look for in a cornerstone QB just had it for some reason.

There’s hope in here, though. Maybe he was the first step up from the bottom, the guy who showed it’s possible to overcome the odds. Maybe Losman was Bass Pro, Edwards was the framework for a casino that just sat there and Fitzpatrick was the Commercial Slip. Maybe the next guy is the Webster Block, or the new bridge or a palatial multi-purpose venue.

Maybe…

Email: nick@fcbuffalo.org

12 Responses to Fitzmagic Fizzles Out of Buffalo

  1. Mike says:

    I too wanted to believe a smart, humble, gritty guy could put it together somehow. I’ll miss rooting for him, but here’s to the future. Here’s to making smarter big-money decisions that allow you to keep serviceable players until a sure-shot franchise player comes along.

  2. Leelee Phoenix says:

    Sporcle! :)

    It’s sad that Fitz leaves us because the Bills are cheap. He’s a fine QB that just lacks the necessary physical skill. You love him as a backup, and really don’t want him as your starter.

    And Bledsoe was not a failure in Buffalo. He has one very good year, one decent, and one bad. It wasn’t Drew’s fault the Bills didn’t make the playoffs in 2002 and 2004. And if you look what that 2003 draft pick would have been, it’s a lot less painful.

    • Brian says:

      It’s both a happy and sad day for Bills fans…………. this had to be done, he stinks…….. but…… we wanted it to work out for him, for the Bills, and for ourselves. Let’s hope the next rookie has what it takes.

  3. Bob Sweeney says:

    Unlike most of you, I am an older Bills fan who saw his first game in 1962 against the Titans…not Tennessee, but New York. I have experienced every disappointment that could befall a Bills fan. I have seen terrible teams and never could properly process the extraordinary success of the glory years until they were long past.

    I must say that I feel Ryan Fitzpatrick exemplified everything I believe about Buffalonians. We believe that you never give up. We always believe that better days are ahead. We are proud when everyone around us (I now live in Virginia) believes we are crazy to maintain our pride.

    Fitz, like Buffalo, simply lacked some of the essentials of greatness. But he took pride that he always showed up, always gave it his best and never, ever tried to pass the blame on to someone else. He was a stand-up guy. I will give him my greatest compliment. He was a real “Buffalo guy.”

    We were fortunate that he was a member of the Bills. He had heart, guts and loved the game. I wish him and Buffalo only the best.

    Old School

  4. DCJoeV says:

    You just described Joe Flacco. But the end result worked out better for him because of a much more stable organization.

  5. ST says:

    Fitz is my favorite QB to ever play for the Bills. Not because he was the best. He wasn’t. Kelly has that honor. (But I never much liked Jimbo personally, and I still don’t) Some could argue Fergie, or Kemp, or Bledsoe (briefly) were better as well. But, Fitz is still my favorite. So far.

    He had all the qualities I want in a QB, save one: top notch talent. But he was good. He was a football player. My kind of football player: Tough. Smart. Funny. Team guy. And a classy human being. I only wish he had been given a decent defense to work with, just once. Or a coach he didn’t require him to throw the ball 77 times a game. I hope he still gets another chance somewhere else. I’m still rooting for the guy.

    Now let’s go draft Nassib in the first round! Ugh. :(

    • Leelee Phoenix says:

      Worse than that. They basically have to trade up for Geno Smith now, who is far from a guaranteed “franchise” QB. Bills fans will show up for any crap team, but selling Tarvaris Jackson or some scrub like Nassib is going to be brutal.

      The negativity towards Fitz is surprising to me. We all know he’s limited, but he had the right mentality and really knew how to play the QB position. It’s not that easy finding guys like Fitz. Fans that are thrilled about Fitz leaving now will have a different tune by September.

      I note that I was very happy when the Bills signed Fitz, and thought he should have been starting over Edwards day one. I’ll miss him, too. Good guy, and generally fun to watch. Even though I knew he was the fast track to painful 7-9 mediocrity.

      • Leelee Phoenix says:

        Oh no, there’s going to be 6 weeks of local media pretending like Nassib is good and he’ll totally be our starting QB. Schopp seriously said we’ll draft him at 41 and everything will be fine. I wish I didn’t follow the draft and knew that this is stinky garbage QB class.

        I hate Buffalo sports.

        • Nick says:

          Barkley’s going to be at least Cutler good.

          • Leelee Phoenix says:

            That’s an odd comparison.

            But, if I had to take a QB in this draft, it would be Barkley. He’s the most “ready” QB in this class by far, good decision making and reads. Was a good leader for his team. But, physically, eh. Really reminds me of Leinart there. Overrated accuracy due to having outstanding WRs and playing in a “pro” scheme in college that had lots of dumpoffs, and does not have a big arm. At worst, I think Barkley’s a passable backup in the NFL, but not much better either.

      • ST says:

        I’ll admit that I had no reaction when the Bills first signed Fitz. Hardly knew the guy at all. But, for me, the BIG change came after I watched Trent Edwards attempt to play QB. I never saw any real ability in the guy. Ever. Yeah, I remember the 5-1 start to that season, or whatever it was, but it had almost nothing to do with Edward’s play on the field. Plus, he was gutless. A cardinal sin in my book.

        (Habemus Papam!)

        And then there were some (are you listening Mike Schoop?) who actually publicly declared at that time that Trent Edwards should be seriously considered for NFL MVP. Whut?

        So, after watching (and loathing) Trent as a QB, I wanted Fitz to play as soon as possible. I’m glad he got that chance. But, realistically, a QB with his limitations MUST have some help from the rest of his team. He never got that help in Buffalo.

        P.S. As an aside, Leelee, did you get the email I sent regarding your blog? Just wondering if it got through to you.

  6. ST says:

    Well, now Fitzy has a new job.

    And, unless Locker gets his head out of his ass pretty quickly, Ryan will find himself starting again sooner rather than later.

    Good luck to Fitzmagic with the Oilers. Luv Ya Blue!