Yes, it's true. In a recent interview with Buffalo station 550 WGR, Bills starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said that the process of getting on the same page with his receivers is very much like the ABC reality show "The Bachelor." Asked about Derek Hagan's comment that it takes time, meetings and reps for quarterbacks and their pass-catchers to understand each other, and with the interviewer saying that receivers might try to get him to like them by giving him extra attention, Fitzpatrick went there with his response.
"I think it is very true," he said. "Right when I got to Buffalo, I would have given my first impression rose to Stevie Johnson. That's one of those things that you don't really see on 'The Bachelor.' Somebody winning it from day one on. It's like you're dating all these different guys and you are trying to form these relationships on the field with these guys trying to get their moves down, trying to get my points across of where I want them to be. It's hard when you have that many guys that run the routes that many different ways. A lot of times I have to give them an expectation of where they need to be at particular times in their route."
It's especially difficult in Buffalo -- under head coach and offensive mastermind Chan Gailey, the Bills run more 4- and 5-receiver sets than any other team. So, Fitzpatrick is evidently exploring his pre-snap options in more ways than one.
What about those treasured "one-on-one" days with his receivers? After all, this is where many prospective mates make up valuable ground with Bachelors and Bachelorettes -- when the mob fades away.
"One of our media guys does a great job with that, but as a quarterback I think this is a great analogy. Because as quarterback when you are 'The Bachelor,' all of a sudden you have those 25 girls and those 25 girls are almost forced to like you. They have to try to be friendly with you. That's how my receivers are too. I don't know if they really like me or not, but they have to act like it. They are trying to win me over. We have a lot of fun with that group, though."
At the risk of admitting that we actually did watch the last season of "The Bachelorette," it might be more appropriate to compare Fitzpatrick to Jef Holm, the Utah entrepreneur who pulled off quite the little upset by winning the heart of the darling Emily Maynard, and leapfrogging a bunch of supposedly hunkier fellas in doing so.
Fitzpatrick was selected by the St. Louis Rams in the seventh round of the 2005 NFL draft out of Harvard, and wasn't expected to do much in the NFL. He threw 135 passes in his rookie season, tallied up eight interceptions to just four touchdowns, and didn't get to throw a single NFL pass in his next two seasons. Fitzpatrick got more reps with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2008 and 2009, but it wasn't until he came to Buffalo in 2010 that his touchdown total exceeded the number of picks he threw.
In 2010 and 2011 under Gailey, Fitzpatrick established himself as a reasonably productive NFL quarterback, though he did lead the league in interceptions last season. Where he really cashed in was in the contract department -- in late October of 2011, the Bills gave Fitzpatrick a seven-year, $62.195 million contract with $24 million guaranteed and a $10 million signing bonus. Not exactly what was expected of an Ivy League quarterback and former almost-NFL washout.
So, sure -- we'll roll with the Bachelor comparison. Why not? Everybody loves the underdog...