Our deepest condolences to Ryan Fitzpatrick and his family. On Saturday, as the team was preparing for a scrimmage at Hard Rock Stadium, Fitzpatrick, who had been stretching with the team and planning to participate in the workout, was informed his mother had passed away. He was seen leaving the field with head coach Brian Flores wrapping his arm around the quarterback.
Fitzpatrick had missed a day of practice last week for “personal reasons.” That explanation had led to speculation that he could be considering retirement, but it is now apparent that he had gone home to spend time with his ailing mother.
“We’ve talked about him having a personal situation,” Flores told the media after the practice. “His mom passed away this morning. So yeah, there’s no quarterback controversy. There’s no – he’s not opting out. He’s not retiring. There was a lot written the last time he had some personal situations, but his mom passed away. ‘Fitz’ has tried to work through this. He always wanted to practice. He tried to go out there today, but you know, and I’ve had multiple conversations with him having dealt with this also. And it’s a tough situation and our hearts go out to him as a team, as an organization. This is a competitive guy – tried to go out there, but some things are more important than football. So he left to be with his family. So yeah, there’s no quarterback controversy. There’s no – he’s not retiring. He’s not opting out. Just wanted to – just so you guys know.”
Flores, whose mother passed away in March 2019 from cancer, continued, explaining a little of why he walked off with Fitzpatrick, “As a coach, as a friend, as a man, as a – I mean, they’re all kind of intertwined in this game. Obviously our conversations are going to stay private, but I went through this a year ago. Our moms were about the same age. We’re about the same age. We’re both – I’m a former athlete; he’s an athlete, but we’re both competitive guys and leaders; and you know, you want to be strong, but there are moments where you can’t. You’re not able to be and so I understand that, and it’s – I just try to support him. This team is supporting him and that was – essentially, that was my message to him.”
After Fitzpatrick left the field with Flores, the coach returned and gathered the team. After informing them of Fitzpatrick’s loss, the team knelt in prayer, according to a report from Sports Illustrated’s Alain Poupart.
Fitzpatrick is expected to take time away from the team as he grieves the loss of his mother. There is no timetable for his return, with the team rightfully allowing him to take as much time as he needs. Quarterbacks Tua Tagovailoa and Josh Rosen will continue to prepare for the regular season opener in 15 days.
“He’s going to take as much time as he needs, and I think we, as an organization; we’re going to give him this time to grieve, and my thought on this is he’s going to try to get back as quickly as he can because that’s the competitive nature in him,” Flores said. “And like a lot of us, football is our sanctuary, and it’s our place to get away from the tough times, the pain, the anguish in our lives. I know he’ll probably try to get back as soon as he can, but we’re going to give him as much time as he wants or needs.”
He continued, “It’s hard to say [if Fitzpatrick could miss the season opener]. We’re going to give him as much time as he needs. If that extends into the season, then that’s what it is, but I can’t put a time frame on it. I mean I won’t call it insensitive, but I’m not going to put a time frame on someone who just lost a parent.”
“It’s a brutal situation,” Rosen said of the passing of Fitzpatrick’s mother. “And I just tried to support him like any way I could these last couple days, weeks and months; but I mean, Ryan’s mom raised a hell of a kid – really strong, awesome, independent kind dude. And I’ve been fortunate enough to be around him these last couple months, almost a year now, probably. And yeah, it’s a tough situation, but kind of puts everything into perspective and reminds you that we all are still human and human things happen.”
Tagovailoa also spoke of Fitzpatrick after practice, “I’d say that was something that was pretty difficult. I kind of told ‘Fitz’ that I’m here for him; but it was something more so emotional for me, too, because I kind of thought of my own mom, and just the thought of not having a family member, losing a family member, I mean, it’s hard. So being given that circumstance, being told that I had be ready to go out with the first group today, it wasn’t something that I was nervous to do; but it was more so, I kind of – I kind of felt what – I would say kind of what ‘Fitz’ was going through. I got emotional when ‘Fitz’ ended up leaving, too and while we were about to pray as a team; but that’s not something that’s easy. I reached out to him, too, telling him that he’s in my prayers and he’s been on my mind and my heart and that if they need anything, that they can reach out to me and I’m here.”
Wide receiver Isaiah Ford weighed in as well, saying, “It’s tough. Any time somebody’s dealing with a loss – specifically a mother – a mother and a son’s bond is something like no other. I couldn’t imagine if it was me, and I just want him to know that whatever we can do as an extended family to support him and help him mourn his loss, that we’ll be here for him, you know and just that I love him like a brother.”
Safety Eric Rowe added, “[Fitzpatrick] means a lot to us, not just as a teammate but just as a guy in the locker room. He brings consistent energy. He’s funny. He’s just a good guy to be around and we all feel for him. We all heard the news this morning, and if that was any one of us, we’d feel the same way. It’s hard to play when you’ve got your parents pass or your mom or dad. We all feel for him. We all have our prayers going for him and when he comes back, he’s going to come back to a family.”
As for the football side of the story, Flores was asked if Fitzpatrick’s absence changes anything in the team’s quarterback preparations for Week 1. He explained, “We have an idea of what we would do. Obviously there’s a competition going on and that plays a role in it, which that’s not – we still have a week left of training camp or a few days left of training camp. I know we’re two weeks away, but nothing’s set in stone offensively, defensively, on the kicking game. But obviously as a staff, we go through those different scenarios. Whether a guy has a situation like this or doesn’t, you know, could be – obviously this is a death in the family, but we treat it no differently than an injury, so the next guy would have to step up. I know the next question is, ‘hey, is it this guy or this guy?’ I would say that that’s yet to be determined.”
Football is not important when it comes to family. The Dolphins will be there whenever Fitzpatrick feels he is able to come back to the team. Meanwhile, keep him and his family in your thoughts as they deal with a miserable situation.