Ryan Fitzpatrick is proving an ideal mentor to Tua Tagovailoa as the Miami Dolphins quarterback contends with an unconventional transition to the NFL.
The coronavirus pandemic has made for a bumpy ascent to the pros for rookies, including a virtual introduction to the playbook, the absence of offeseason team activities, a delayed training camp and no preseason.
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Tagovailoa’s situation has no doubt been helped by access to the experience of Fitzpatrick, who had already been expected to begin the 2020 season as starter given that the Alabama product has spent much of the year recovering from November’s season-ending hip injury.
The No 5 overall Draft pick paid homage to his new teammate this week by turning up to his press conference sporting a Fitzpatrick jersey.
“I thought I could break ice making you guys laugh wearing a ‘Fitz’ [Ryan Fitzpatrick] jersey because you know ‘Fitz’, he’s very personable as well,” said Tagovailoa. “But kind of to start it off with ‘Fitz’ – [he is a] very, very down-to-earth person. Very humble.
“I got to meet his family about two days ago and it was pretty funny because everyone while we were on FaceTime, everyone’s just scattered around the house. So he introduces me to his kids and then he introduces me to his wife and he’s like, ‘This is it. This is everyone and this is my family,’ and then (laughter), lo and behold he forgets two of them.
“He’s really been in the league for so long. To be behind a professional like that, to me it’s kind of mind-boggling how down-to-earth he is.
“It’s one of those things where it’s, this guy gets it. I don’t know what it is, but he gets it and that saying goes true. It says ‘if you want to get somewhere fast, you go alone, but if you want to do it with purpose, then you bring people with you,’ and I think ‘Fitz’ has done a tremendous job in trying to help shape and mold me and Josh [Rosen] as well.”
Tagovailoa, who has endured more than his fair share of injury problems, left the Crimson Tide programme as No 1 in school history in completion percentage (69.3 percent), career passing touchdowns (87) and touchdown passes in a season (43 in 2018), throwing for a total of 7,442 yards in 32 games.
The 22-year-old touched on the prospect of the not playing in 2020, having recently seen two of college football’s Power 5 conferences postpone their campaigns due to concerns surrounding the pandemic.
“To say if we didn’t have a season, I don’t think it would just be me that would be bummed, I think our whole team would be bummed and other teams as well that we don’t get an opportunity to play,” he said.
“This is something a lot of people work for. It’s our job for sure, but it’s also been a dream for a lot of us to get an opportunity like this and for a lot of the undrafted guys to get an opportunity.
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