Ryan Fitzpatrick revealed how he was pressured into taking off his jersey during the Buffalo Bills’ January playoff game against New England on a podcast Monday.
Fitzpatrick, 39, opened up about his retirement last week after 17 NFL seasons on the ESPN Adam Schefter podcast, and his love for Buffalo was a talking point.
The quarterback went to the wildcard game on January 15 at Highmark Stadium with his two eldest sons. A photo of a bearded, shirtless Fitzpatrick went viral on social media after the game.
“I’ve been going to the Super Bowl for the last five or six years with my two oldest boys,” Fitzpatrick told Schefter on the podcast. “This year, I didn’t really want to go to Los Angeles. The Bills played a playoff game at home. So it was like, ‘The Bills have a playoff game at home, let’s make it our trip.’
“We got on the plane that day, went to the game, and the whole time, from the car to the parking lot to the game, my boys were like, ‘We’re taking our shirts off, dad. I was like, ‘OK, it’s negative -3, relax.’ It was after the seventh touchdown. It was such an incredible energy and feeling in this stadium that I felt like it was time. My boys and I threw away the shirts.
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“I lasted maybe three or four minutes, and after about 10 minutes I had to tell my boys to put the clothes back on because the frostbite was coming soon. It was a great experience and an experience to share with my boys I will never forget.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever felt at home in a stadium or with a fan base. I was in Buffalo for four years, but those are my people. I feel like I understand them and they understand me. It was one of the great pleasures of my career to play in Buffalo.”
Fitzpatrick has played with nine NFL teams. He compiled a career record of 59-87-1 as a starter, including 20-33 with the Bills. He passed for 34,990 yards (32nd all-time) and 223 touchdowns (36th all-time).
Here are some other observations from Fitzpatrick on his retirement:
• When quitting: “I’m so grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given, and so grateful for the people who believed in me. … I gave the guys chances to make plays. I didn’t just sit around and try to survive. I tried to go out there and thrive and play without fear.
• On his favorite NFL QB: “Josh Allen is my favorite because he looks effortless. He’s so talented that he still doesn’t know how good he is. He’s just going to keep getting better. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s playing in Buffalo. It doesn’t hurt that he’s tailoring this town to a T, just in terms of behavior.
• On the heavy blow he received from London Fletcher in a win over Washington in 2011 that took the Bills’ record to 5-2. (Buffalo lost the next seven straight): “London cracked my sternum and broke six of my ribs. Low center of gravity, hard head. It was my fault. I made the wrong protection call, the guys up front listened to me and I just got bombarded.
Fitzpatrick also listed his 12 most memorable games. They were:
2005: Rams vs. Texans. Down 21 points, he rallied the Rams to a 33-27 OT win.
2008: Bengals v Jaguars. The Bengals win 21-19. His first career win as a starter.
2010: Bills vs. Bengals. The Bills won 49-31. “The first time I felt that feeling of invincibility. … Stevie Johnson did ‘Why so serious?’ this game.”
2011: Bills vs. Patriots. “We beat them 34-31. That’s when Tom Brady didn’t shake my hand.
2014: Texans vs. Bills. “The first and only revenge game I felt like I ever had. I felt the guys from Houston rallied around me. The Texans won 23-17.
2014: Texans vs. Titans. Fitzpatrick threw six touchdown passes in a 45-21 win.
2015: Jets vs. Patriots: “We got our fifth straight win and went 10-5. They won the toss and chose to kick us off. I got my handshake this game.
2016: Jets vs. Bills. The Jets won 37-31. “The first Thursday night game this season. Nothing could go wrong. Everything we did during this match was perfect.
2017: Bucs vs. Cardinals. Trailing 31-0, the Bucs rallied and lost 38-33.
2018: Bucs v Saints. Bucs won 48-40. “One of those games where nothing could go wrong. It was the start of three 400-yard games to start a season, something that had never been done to start a season by a quarterback.
2019: Dolphins against Patriots. The Dolphins won 27-24 in final practice, and Pats needed to win to secure home-court advantage.
2020: Dolphins vs. Raiders. Down 2 with 19 seconds left at their own 25, the Dolphins drove to the winning field goal in a 26-25 win.