Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Harvard-educated quarterback who brought his “FitzMagic” to the NFL for nine teams spanning 17 seasons, confirmed his retirement to The Associated Press in a text message on Friday.
Fitzpatrick, popular throughout his career with his teammates and known for his prolific beard, previously made the announcement Thursday in a text message to his former teammates, and former Bills running back Fred Jackson was the first to reveal on Twitter that the veteran QB planned to took of.
Jackson shared an image from Fitzpatrick with the names of hundreds of teammates, along with the message: “Forever grateful for the magical ride.”
Jackson responded by writing: “Congrats on a Helluva career, Fitzy!! Loved sharing the field with you!! The gratitude is all mine!!”
—Fred Jackson (@Fred22Jackson) June 2, 2022
Fitzpatrick, 39, suffered a season-ending hip subluxation in the second quarter of the Washington Commanders’ season-opening loss to the Los Angeles Chargers in September and had to undergo arthroscopic surgery.
He had signed a one-year, $10 million deal with Washington in March 2021.
In 17 seasons, Fitzpatrick started 147 games, throwing for 34,990 yards and 223 touchdowns with 169 interceptions. He began his career as a seventh-round draft pick of the St. Louis Rams in 2005, and he also played for the Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans, Houston Texans, New York Jets, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Miami Dolphins and Washington during his career.
He started games for all nine teams, which is an NFL record among quarterbacks. Fitzpatrick, however, never made the playoffs during his career. The closest he came was in 2015 with the Jets, who were eliminated from contention when he threw three fourth-quarter interceptions in a season-ending 22-17 loss at Buffalo. The Jets finished that season 10-6, the best record for a team with Fitzpatrick under center.
Chan Gailey was the Jets’ offensive coordinator that year and held the same role when Fitzpatrick was in Miami in 2020. He led the Dolphins to a 3-3 start before losing the starting job to rookie Tua Tagovailoa.
“He deserves better than he got. He never made the playoffs. I hate that for him. It ate at me,” Gailey said. “And I thought we were going to make it in Miami. He had that team ready to explode, and the change was made at quarterback. I hated that for him. I really did. But he handled that with class just like he handled everything else with class.”
Gailey, who coached Fitzpatrick at three separate stops, called Fitzpatrick’s leadership ability “the best I’ve been around.”
“He’s a fierce competitor. He’s extremely smart. So he had answers for players. And players always respect somebody that has answers,” Gailey said. “But he never lorded it over them that he was smarter than everybody else. He was humble smart.”
Fitzpatrick spent the most years of his career and started the most games in Buffalo, going 20-33 in 53 regular-season starts over four seasons with the Bills from 2009 to 2012. In 2010, despite not beginning the year as the starting quarterback, Fitzpatrick threw for 3,000 yards, becoming the first Bills quarterback to do that in a season since JP Losman in 2006.
He ultimately was unable to latch on as a long-term starter with the Bills, enduring a nine-year stretch of losing seasons. In his Bills career, he threw 80 touchdown passes and had 64 interceptions.
While his time in Buffalo is long gone, Fitzpatrick has remained a favorite among Bills fans. He attended the team’s AFC wild-card playoff win over the New England Patriots in January, watching from the stands and posing shirtless in freezing temperatures and strong wind.
ESPN’s Alaina Getzenberg and The Associated Press contributed to this report.