To understand the bond between Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brandon Marshall, look no further than their paths to this point.
After more than a decade in the NFL, each Jet still is seeking that elusive championship. But their bond goes well beyond the gridiron. Their friendship was forged through shared uniform colors, but it was strengthened by a deep-seated understanding of one another.
After all of those different teams, all of those close calls and all of those losing seasons, Fitzpatrick and Marshall are more than just your typical quarterback and wide receiver.
Theirs is a true bromance.
“I probably talk to him about feelings more than I talk to my wife about feelings,” Fitzpatrick said with a smile Monday during a one-on-one interview with Newsday. “But in a good way. It’s something that’s important and something that I think helps us on the field.”
They’re as invested in each other’s individual success because they’ve each devoted more than 10 years of their lives to this sport. Not only can they relate to each other’s journey and sacrifice, but their “genuine respect for one another” also carries over to the field, Fitzpatrick, 33, said.
“We’ve both been through a lot,” he added. “And I don’t want to compare my career to his because he’s been at the top and I’ve kind of had a lot of ups and downs. But I just think the road that led us both here, we both understand and appreciate that about each other. And then, he’s also just a very open guy.”
So open that discussing one’s emotions is standard operating procedure for the quarterback. “I’m trying to think when he dropped the first ‘L’ bomb,” Fitzpatrick joked of Marshall’s using the word “love.”
“No, but it’s more than just open lines of communication. And it’s not always happy or nice. There’s plenty of frustration and anger, but it’s an open line of communication, which I think is important.”
Fitzpatrick is a leader in the locker room and in the huddle. But he’s much more than that.
“I’m almost a psychologist, in a way,” he said, adding that there’s “a unique, individual way” he approaches every offensive player, “especially the wide receivers.”
“I’ve got to gauge all these different personalities and figure out how to push their buttons and how not to go over the line. And it’s one of the things that can be frustrating at times, but one of the things that I really enjoy about playing quarterback, too.”
After catching six passes for 101 yards in Thursday night’s 37-31 win at Buffalo, Marshall, 32, raved about Fitzpatrick.
“I am happy for him,” the 11-year veteran said of his 374 passing yards. “Because a guy like that usually doesn’t get these opportunities like this late in their career. And he deserves it. The game owes him. He has put in a lot of work. It is time for him to reap harvest.”
Days later, those words still had an impact on Fitzpatrick.
“At this point in my career, that’s kind of why I play,” the 12-year veteran said. “That’s why, when I go out there, I don’t want to let these guys down. So it’s not necessarily pressure, it’s more drive. That’s what’s driving me, that’s what makes it easy for me to wake up early in the morning and spend all day here and communicate with those guys and kind of put certain things on hold in my life to be here.”
Notes & quotes: According to sources, former Patriots center Bryan Stork, wide receiver Mario Alford and outside linebacker Ivan McLennan were among several players who visited . . . Matt Forte was nominated for player of the week for his Week 2 performance against the Bills: three touchdowns and 100 yards rushing.