Fitz, the Family and the Strangest Offseason

Alain Poupart

Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has seen just about everything in his 15 years in the NFL, but this is a new one for him.

Fitzpatrick entered the league in 2005, so he was around in 2011 when there was no offseason because of the lockout. There has been an offseason this year, but only in a virtual form.

"It's been difficult," Fitzpatrick said. "The lockout year, the 2011 deal, (was) nothing like this. Because even finding fields or going to throw with guys or guys getting on airplanes — that’s just not happening right now. So there’s a lot of things that are even different from the offseason that we experienced that year."

Because of the restrictions in place due to the coronavirus pandemic, Fitzpatrick has been spending the offseason with his family in Arizona — his wife and their seven children.

Oh, and did we mention his next-door neighbor? That's his brother, who happens to have five kids.

"It's been a little bit crazy," Fitzpatrick said. "We're out in Arizona. My brother lives next door and he has five kids. That's 12 every day, running around. We've got a bit of space here. The kids haven't even noticed, other than having to go to school online and doing some of their school work right away. It's actually been a good time to get away from everything else and reconnect with everybody and just be with family and enjoy each other, breakfast, lunch and dinner with each other. We haven't left the house a whole lot other to get groceries or go to the golf course every now and again. It's been good for us in the sense that we got to spend a lot of quality time together."

What's been missing for Fitzpatrick has been the people he trusts to trim his famous beard.

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Because of the restrictions, he hasn't been able to get his beard touched up for a while, which is why it was even more Grizzly Adamsesque than usual — along with poofy hair — when he spoke to reporters via video conference call this week.

"There's really only two people in the country I trust to touch this thing," Fitzpatrick said. "One is in Tampa and one is in New Jersey. It's been going ever since everything has been shut down. The neck hair is out of control right now. I'm glad you can't see it."

Fitzpatrick, like everybody else, has had to adjust when it comes to having meetings online during the offseason.

He was asked whether he had enlisted any of the kids in either house to run routes for him, but indicated that he pretty much hasn't thrown in the offseason the past eight or nine years to save his arm.

But that's about the only thing that hasn't changed this offseason.

"I think the approach that we’re taking is focus every day on what we can control," he said. "That’s our Zoom meetings and trying to do the best we can to learn this offense and communicate. And getting the workouts in on our own, trying to get ourselves in shape so whenever this thing starts back up, that we’re ready to go."