Ryan Fitzpatrick lost his job as starting quarterback for the Miami Dolphins to rookie Tua Tagovailoa earlier this week. Almost 38, Fitzpatrick was very disappointed as his days as a starting quarterback in the NFL may be over if everything goes well for Tagovailoa. Of course, as Josh McCown has proved, if Fitz wants to stay in the NFL, you can be a backup into your 40's. McCown, 41, is still on the Philadelphia Eagles' practice squad.
Still, it kind of feels like the end of a uneventful era. Fitzpatrick and his beard have been a part of the NFL for a long time now. The temptation to overstate the importance of Fitzpatrick's longevity is understandable. Take, for instance, this tweet from ESPN analyst and former NFL scout Jim Nagy.
Man, that doesn't sound right at all. Those guys have been around forever, but did they actually teach "a generation of young QB's how to be leaders and pros?" Is their impact actually immeasurable? Let's take a look. Here are all of the quarterbacks who appear to have shared a roster with Fitzpatrick:
Mark Bulger, Jamie Martin, Gus Frerotte, Carson Palmer, Jordan Palmer, Trent Edwards, Brian Brohm, Levi Brown, Jake Locker, Case Keenum, Ryan Mallett, Tom Savage, Geno Smith, Bryce Petty, Jameis Winston, Josh Rosen, Tua Tagovailoa.
I guess Jameis could have looked over at Fitzpatrick on the sideline in Tampa and taken some mental notes he's putting to use in New Orleans this season, but out of everybody on that list, only Tua, Smith, Rosen, and Keenum are on a roster other than Winston.
How about McCown? Here are his former quarterback teammates:
Jake Plummer, Jeff Blake, Shaun King, David Navarre, Kurt Warner, Jon Kitna, JaMarcus Russell, Daunte Culpepper, Andrew Walter, Jake Delhomme, Matt Moore, Jay Cutler, Caleb Hanie, Jason Campbell, Mike Glennon, Johnny Manziel, Terrelle Pryor, Austin Davis, Cody Kessler, Robert Griffin III, Kevin Hogan, Charlie Whitehurst, Bryce Petty, Sam Darnold, Carson Wentz.
Well, he got to back up Jay Cutler and even a Hall of Famer in Kurt Warner, but again, that's a lot of guys not paying it forward when it comes to being a leader and a pro. Someone will need to ask Matt Moore and Mike Glennon what kind of influence McCown had on them. And how is Bryce Petty not on a roster right now if he got to learn from both of these guys?
Can you imagine who the rest of these backups have backed up? Their backup quarterback trees must be downright Parcells-ian.
The impact of Fitzpatrick and McCown seems pretty measurable. They combined for one fluky playoff appearance between the two of them (McCown last year) and made a lot of money being in the league because they were in the league. I'm not sure what else a young quarterback could take from that.