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Fitzpatrick a perfect role model for the average athlete

Posted by on September 20, 2011 – 5:04 pm

One of the coolest parts of local-guy-gone-good Ryan Fitzpatrick bringing the Buffalo Bills back from a 21-3 halftime deficit against the Oakland Raiders on Sunday, was that it offered a quick reminder to the average high school football player.

To recap last Sunday, Fitzpatrick carved the Raiders secondary (short and deep) for 35 second-half points, including the game-winning touchdown pass on fourth-and-1 with 14 seconds left in a 38-35 win. It was a 14-play, 80-yard drive, and the previously-woeful Bills’ biggest comeback since the unforgettable playoff game against Houston in 1993 when the Bills trailed by 32 points.

To recap a decade ago, Fitzpatrick was a solid, but hardly can’t-miss quarterback under Mike Reardon at Highland. He eventually won the starting job as a junior in 1999, but the Hawks weren’t exactly favorites at that time.

He was 6-feet, had a strong arm, not the most mobile guy, but could move around when necessary. He set a dozen school records for passing at Highland and was the Fiesta Region player of the year when the Hawks won the region title in 2000.

Still, ho hum as far as the next level was concerned.

No BCS-level Division I school wanted him, but his intellect got him to Harvard, so he played there and won the Ivy League MVP in 2004. He earned his degree at the pinnacle of higher learning institutions, and was a seventh-round pick by St. Louis in the 2005 NFL draft.

He was released and latched on with Cincinnati in 2007, then Buffalo, where he has sometimes started, sometimes not for the past three years.

He’s the guy now for the 2-0 Bills, and a remembrance that education and determination still matter most.

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