Selected by the St. Louis Rams in the seventh round of the 2005 NFL Draft out of Harvard University after becoming the first quarterback in school history to have over 1,000 rushing yards, Ryan Fitzpatrick started the first three of his 166 career games during his rookie season in the NFL, all losses.
The next time the 40-year-old quarterback got to show off his FitzMagic, it was in 2008 as a member of the Bengals, a team he started 12 games for over the course of two seasons. From there, Fitzpatrick moved on to the Bills, then the Titans, then the Texans, then the Jets, then the Buccaneers, then the Dolphins and finally the Commanders in 2021.
A starter at quarterback for an NFL-record nine teams over the course of his 17 seasons in pro football, Fitzpatrick boasts a career record of 59-87-1 with 34,990 passing yards and 223 touchdowns. Of all the places that Fitzpatrick played, Buffalo was where the Arizona native called home the longest, as he was with the Bills for four seasons. The NFL’s “I’ve Been Everywhere” man, Fitzpatrick is teaming with Jameson to call for the NFL to bring a regular-season game to Dublin, an initiative 86% of fans have said they could be excited for.
The subject of the children’s book The Legend of FitzMagic – Mr. Nomadic by former Bills teammate Stevie Johnson, Fitzpatrick may not make it to Dublin if the NFL expands its International Series to Ireland, but he’ll almost certainly be back in Buffalo to work as an analyst for Thursday Night Football and to go to his favorite Italian restaurant. Fitzy audibles for meatballs over Buffalo wings in Upstate New York? We had to find out why.
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InsideHook: In all of your travels throughout the NFL, did you have a favorite place to eat?
Ryan Fitzpatrick: It’s a tough question because we were in nine different cities. Everywhere my family and I lived together, we tried to really embrace where we were and make it feel as if it was going to be a permanent place and not, for lack of a better term, half-ass it. I really enjoyed that aspect of it, but my favorite restaurant that I ran across is called Mulberry Italian Ristorante in Lackawanna, just outside Buffalo. That’s my all-time favorite. It’s Italian food with big meatballs and lots of stuff. It’s a place a lot of Bills players went when I was there, and the tradition still carries on. It’s one of those places where you don’t really order, you just sit down and the food starts coming. Joe, the head guy there, does a great job of putting good food in front of you.
IH: What was your chicken wing consumption like when you were in Buffalo?
RF: I had a lot of wings at a lot of different places. There were plenty of varying opinions on where the best wings were. I’m an offensive lineman at heart, so me and the O-line would travel around and make sure we sampled all the different places to pick the best wings. I think over the years it’s kind of changed. The interesting thing about Buffalo is that most places, no matter what type of food they actually serve, have wings on the menu. I’ve never been a big spice guy, but I’m getting better in my old age.
IH: What else do you think about when you remember your time in Buffalo?
RF: Buffalo was the first place I became a full-time starter in the NFL and the first time I signed a decent contract. Buffalo was the first place I had the added pressure of being a franchise quarterback. All my other stops after that, I was a stopgap holding the position for a year for a young kid or holding it as we drafted somebody and brought them in for half a season. As the franchise quarterback, you get to play with freeness and go out and be you and sling the ball around.
IH: What have you seen from Josh Allen slinging the ball around for the Bills?
RF: Josh has been a great player. He’s really established himself over the last couple of years. They’ve got to put the ball in his hand,s and there are plenty of instances when the Buffalo Bills are going to need Josh Allen to put on his cape and be Superman. I think [former offensive coordinator] Brian Daboll leaving for the Giants last year has led to some regression in his decisiveness in the pocket. I think that’s something Allen and the line need to get better at.
IH: How have you seen the way the quarterback position is played change in the NFL in recent years?
RF: The league has definitely become much more pass-happy, even since 2005 when I got in. I think part of that is the trickle-up effect from the spread offense in college and part of it is the talent at receiver. That’s changed the game. You’re seeing guys completing 70% of their passes, not 60% of their passes. The passing game has become quicker and shorter and you’re using the whole field. Some of it has replaced the run game. The quarterbacks coming in, it’s amazing how NFL-ready some of these young guys are.I think that’s a testament to playing seven-on-seven from the time they were five years old and getting to college and being able to really learn and see the game. It’s been really impressive to see how some of these young quarterbacks have been able to adjust and take off as they’ve gotten to the NFL.