Where Are They Now? Fitzpatrick Does It Again

Published by James Dionne on September 20, 2011 at 3:11AM

Ryan Fitzpatrick

In a new weekly feature, The Crimson will be tracking the successes (and potential failures) of some of Harvard’s most successful graduates not to use their Harvard degrees. While a tour through professional sports is not exactly a who’s who of Harvard alumni, a few athletes have taken their game to the next level. From Jeremy Lin to Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Crimson maintains a presence outside of the labs and law offices of the world.

Our alumni tracker this week has (deservingly so) turned into the Ryan Fitzpatrick ’05 MVP tracker. The Bills quarterback lit up the scoreboard again yesterday in a 38-35 nail-biter in Buffalo.

Not only did Fitzpatrick turn in a 264-yard, three-touchdown performance, the Buffalo signal caller fired a touchdown pass to David Nelson on fourth down with 14 seconds left in the final quarter to put the Bills in front for good in a back-and-forth affair.

The real story, though, is Fitzpatrick’s sudden success after a decidedly average first seven years in the NFL. With a career 75.1 passer rating, Fitzpatrick, until the last two weeks, was best known for his impressive, nine-minute, 48-correct-answer sprint through the Wonderlic Test, football’s measure of mental aptitude, and his educational background.

But now Fitzpatrick is playing “winning football,” as ESPN analyst Mike Ditka so eloquently noted.

Fitzpatrick will be put to the test next week as the Bills take on Tom Brady and the explosive New England offense, in what will amount to a homecoming of sorts.

“I’m not looking ahead or anything, but in order to be good in this league and to get to the playoffs and be successful, you have to be successful within your division,” Fitzpatrick told the Globe on Sunday.

And when you think AFC East, the Patriots, the team that has dominated the division for over a decade, certainly come to mind.

Football aside, Fitzpatrick is developing a sort of cult following. “Fear the Beard” signs decorate Buffalo’s stadium, and, following a four-touchdown performance in the Bills’ opener, he spent the past week being featured on numerous talk shows, including Scott Van Pelt’s popular ESPN program. Heck, the man amassed 27 twitter mentions as I penned this article.

As the Harvard graduate takes his talents down south to face the Pats this Sunday, the Bills-Patriots game will feature a legitimate quarterback showdown—for the first time in a long while.