Veteran footballer Ryan Fitzpatrick has made a career out of surprising people. Selected as the sixth-to-last pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, Fitzpatrick has defied all expectations by sticking around the league and establishing himself as one of the most respected figures in the game. Affectionately referred to as "Fitzmagic," the seasoned QB will enter his 17th NFL season in 2021. No matter what jersey he wears, however, the 38-year-old bearded wonder always seems to find success on the gridiron. During his long career, Fitzpatrick has captured many team and league records, including being the only quarterback in NFL history to start and throw touchdowns for eight different franchises—one quarter of the entire league. He is also the first NFL quarterback to throw at least 400 yards in three successive games.
Fitzpatrick's improbable odyssey can be traced back to his days at Harvard University. Unlike many of his current NFL teammates, Fitzpatrick came out of high school without any Division-IA scholarship offers on the table. At Harvard, it didn't look as if football was going to be in his future. During his first two years playing Ivy League ball, Fitzpatrick only started five times. Things began to change, though, after he assumed the starting QB position during his junior year. Fitzpatrick soon became a nightmare for defense cornerbacks who struggled to keep up with his game IQ and accuracy as a thrower. In his last season on campus, Fitzpatrick earned Ivy League MVP honors while leading the Crimson to a perfect 10-0 record, including a 35-3 drubbing of Yale in The Game. He also won the George H. “Bulger” Lowe Award. To date, Fitzpatrick ranks second on Harvard's career list for pass completions and is the school's first quarterback to rush for over 1,000 career yards. In 2005, he graduated from Harvard with a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics.
Despite Fitzpatrick's nomadic tendencies in the NFL, he has always been fond of returning to the place where he first started to shine. "We just made our 10-year reunion this past year," he said in 2015, referring also to his wife, who was an all-American soccer player for the Crimson’s women's team. "We were back for our fifth... We graduated the same year. So that's important to us. We try to get back at least once a year." Besides annual pilgrimages and class reunions, Fitzpatrick still keeps in touch with his former Harvard coach, Tim Murphy. As the University’s all-time winningest coach, Murphy has always been a strong supporter of Fitzpatrick’s undeniable gifts, on and off the field. Indeed, there is no denying the significance of Fitzpatrick’s unlikely success in Cambridge. If a back-up college QB can develop into one of the NFL’s most recognizable faces, Harvard has a chance at producing more elite athletes in the future.