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Ryan Fitzpatrick says he decided to retire at least a month before it was announced last week he would officially step away from the NFL.
Fitzpatrick, who played for nine teams in 17 seasons, says the hip injury suffered with the Washington Commanders in the 2021 season opener was a “blessing in disguise” into what life after football would be for him.
“It gave me a glimpse into the future of what retirement would look like – and it drove my wife crazy – but I think it was a good preview of what was to come,” Fitzpatrick said on the Adam Schefter podcast released Monday.
“I think it was something that it was time. And I’m ready for it.”
So, what’s next for Fitzpatrick, one of the most charismatic players in NFL history?
Coaching, beyond his seven kids, may not be in the picture. But he would love to stay connected to the game. NFL Network reported last week Fitzpatrick is in talks with Amazon to be part of the league’s Thursday Night Football coverage.
“Now, I’ve got 17 years of NFL knowledge stored up in my mind and I just don’t want it to go to waste. I think in another life I would love to coach, but in my life that I lead and that I’m in right now with the kids and everything else, it’s a sacrifice I’m not willing to make at this point,” Fitzpatrick said.
“I want to stay involved in the game. Maybe the broadcasting, media side, we’ll see. But I feel like I have more to give and offer, and I think it would be good to for me to share a lot of the things I’ve seen and learned over the years with people, with the viewing audience so we’ll see where we go from here.”
Ryan Fitzpatrick holds an unofficial, unscheduled retirement press conference and, amongst other things, lists his favorite all-time games and teammates, shares his toughest opponents, names the best QB in NFL history and details his word cloud.
🎧 https://t.co/0vUWT69iZd pic.twitter.com/EXMWMyy2Sy
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) June 6, 2022
Fitzpatrick touched on several topics during his podcast appearance, including how the news of his retirement was initially shared by his former Buffalo Bills teammate Fred Jackson on social media.
Thanks for the memories
Fitzpatrick doesn’t have social media himself, and figured he might not have a traditional retirement press conference because he played for so many teams.
So he spent hours working with his oldest son and wife to create a word cloud, featuring names of 856 teammates he played with in his career.
Fitzpatrick thought creating and sharing the word cloud was “a nice way for me to say thank you and honor a bunch of my teammates and guys I loved playing with.”
“I got a text from Fred Jackson [Friday morning] that said, ‘Hey, didn’t think that would blow up like it did. Sorry if you didn’t want me to do that.’ And it was perfect,” Fitzpatrick said.
“Fred felt the need to post it and say thank you to me, which is the world we’re living in now. That happens on social media. And it caught a life of its own. I was happy Fred was the one to do it.”
Fitzpatrick also plans to write thank you notes to the head coaches, offensive coordinators, quarterback coaches and quality control coaches he worked with through the years.
Fitzpatrick also shared some of his favorite games, joking he had to be sure to mention the team because of how many he played for during his career.
His first game with the Rams, a 33-27 overtime win over the Texans in 2005.
“It was crazy. It was absolutely crazy,” he said. “I had no idea what I was doing, and we go and come back and win the game in overtime.”
A 49-31 Bills win over the Bengals in 2010, and a 37-31 Jets win over the Bills in 2016 were games in which Fitzpatrick felt “invincible” as a quarterback.
A 34-31 Bills win over the Patriots in 2011 when Tom Brady didn’t shake his hand, and a 26-20 Jets win over the Patriots in 2015 where Fitzpatrick “got my hand shaked that game.”
A 38-33 loss with the Buccaneers against the Cardinals, in which Fitzpatrick led a comeback down 31-0, but again realized his love for the game following two tough seasons with the Jets.
A 48-40 win with the Buccaneers to open the 2018 season, where Fitzpatrick cried after the game. It was also the first of a three-game stretch when he threw for 400 yards in each to start the season.
“Nothing could go wrong. Everything hit. Everything was perfect,” he said.
Two others with the Dolphins, where he led game-winning drives against the Patriots in a 27-24 win in 2019, and in Las Vegas in 2020 where he completed a pass down the sideline while his facemask was yanked to the side to put Miami in field-goal range.
“Some of these games are just fun to think about. But a lot of emotion goes into some of these because of how difficult the career was, and how fun it was along the way,” Fitzpatrick said.
“The people that supported me the whole time. To be able to share of these with them was so special.”
Now that he’s retired, Fitzpatrick says he and his family will move from Virginia to Arizona, while sprinkling some vacations this summer.
“I’m looking forward to just being dad for a little bit, and then figuring out what’s to come,” he said.
And don’t worry: the beard Fitzpatrick has become famous for sporting in recent years will continue to be his trademark look.
“If I did shave it off, A: my kids would be pissed. And B: I would be nervous to see what it looks like under here. I would be anonymous,” Fitzpatrick said.
“But it’s such a part of who I am now that I couldn’t imagine doing it.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Retired QB Ryan Fitzpatrick hits highlights of his 17-year NFL career