Ryan Fitzpatrick revealed how he was prodded to take off his shirt at the Buffalo Bills’ playoff game against New England in January on a podcast Monday.
Fitzpatrick, 39, discussed his retirement last week after 17 NFL seasons on the ESPN Adam Schefter Podcast, and his love for Buffalo was a topic of discussion.
The quarterback went to the wild-card game Jan. 15 at Highmark Stadium with his two oldest sons. A photo of a bearded and shirtless Fitzpatrick went viral on social media after the game.
“I go to the Super Bowl the last five, six years with my two oldest boys,” Fitzpatrick told Schefter on the podcast. “This year, I just wasn’t really feeling going out to L.A. The Bills had a home playoff game. So it was like, ‘The Bills have a home playoff game, let’s make this our trip.’
“We flew up that day, went to the game, and the whole time from the car through 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 out, just relax.’ It was after the seventh touchdown. It was such an amazing energy and feeling in that stadium, I felt like it was time. Me and my boys threw the shirts off.
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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 one to share with my boys I’ll never forget.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever felt as at home in a stadium or with a fanbase. 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 playing in Buffalo.”
Fitzpatrick 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 were some other observations from Fitzpatrick on his retirement:
• On calling it quits: “I have just so much gratitude for the opportunities I was given, and so much gratitude for the people who believed in me. … I gave guys chances to make plays. I didn’t just sit back 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 it looks effortless. He’s so talented, he still doesn’t know how good he is. He’s just going to continue to get better. It doesn’t hurt also that he plays in Buffalo. It doesn’t hurt that he fits that city to a T, just in terms of his demeanor.”
• On the violent hit he took from London Fletcher in a 2011 win over Washington that improved 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 shellacked.”
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 vs. Jaguars. Bengals win 21-19. His first career win as a starter.
2010: Bills vs. Bengals. Bills won 49-31. “The first time I felt that feeling of invincibility. … Stevie Johnson did ‘Why so serious?’ that game.”
2011: Bills vs. Patriots. “We beat them 34-31. That was 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 in Houston rallied around me.” The Texans won 23-17.
2014: Texans vs. Titans. Fitzpatrick threw six TD passes in a 45-21 win.
2015: Jets vs. Patriots: “We won our fifth in a row and we went to 10-5. They won the toss and elected to kick off to us. I got my handshake that game.”
2016: Jets vs. Bills. Jets won 37-31. “The first Thursday night game that season. Nothing could go wrong. Everything we did that game was perfect.”
2017: Bucs vs. Cardinals. Down 31-0, Bucs rallied and lost 38-33.
2018: Bucs vs. Saints. Bucs won 48-40. “One of those games where nothing could go wrong. It was the start of three games of 400 yards to start a season, something that had never been done to start a season by any quarterback.”
2019: Dolphins vs. Patriots. Dolphins won 27-24 on final drive, and Pats needed to win to secure home field advantage.
2020: Dolphins vs. Raiders. Down 2 with 19 seconds left at their own 25, Dolphins drove to winning field goal in 26-25 victory.