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Wednesday, December 08, 2010

When All That Glitters is Not Gold

Kevin Fitzhugh got a phone call that most kids dream about.

The Jets lost safety Jim Leonhard to a freak injury last Friday in practice. They need a third safety, and they called Fitzhugh, who had been in their camps each of the past two seasons.

No brainer, right? Undrafted free agent now working a civilian job, so you'd figure that he'd jump at the chance to join a team that, despite Monday night's disaster, is primed for the playoffs and beyond.

If you figured that, you'd be wrong.

Fitzhugh turned the Jets down.

His parents need his support, he has a steady job with Norfolk & Southern Railroad, and, believe it or not the Jets and the NFL cannot offer him the job security that his current job does. Fitzhugh, you see, needs the steady paycheck.

The proverbial they talk about how football makes men. I haven't seen any empirical evidence that football does that, and I've seen more anecdotal evidence that football lets boys perpetuate a boyhood that doesn't always have the right consequences (see, among others, Ben Roethlisberger). But in this case, one thing is for sure -- Kevin Fitzhugh is a man.

A very good and responsible man.

How many people would have turned down this opportunity? Even for Fitzhugh's reasons?

When the Sports Illustrateds of the world think of whom to award for making the right decisions, they should look no further than Kevin Fitzhugh. It must have been very hard for him to say no, but he did the right thing.


Blogger Michael said...

I think you are giving Kevin a too much credit. He was in this exact same situation with Baltimore in 2009. It doesn't make sense for him to leave his current job and be unemployed by February again. But it sounds like he'll be in somebody's training camp come September.

For example, when an agent offered Reggie Bush a home in a nice neighborhood for his mom, wasn't that the best decision? For the price of his reputation, his Mom lived in a safe neighborhood.

1:22 PM  
Blogger SportsProf said...

You could be right.

That said. . . the NFL offers instant glory and lots of big bucks to young kids for very short careers -- at least to the stars and the regulars. Most of the players are on the margins, and it doesn't offer a steady paycheck unless you're the type of player who will go into scouting or coaching and make it a career. If you're not that guy, well, then you might want to put the glitter of "the league" behind you and forget about it. Why? Because you can turn around, be 29, limping, and then what can you do for a living, especially if you don't have a degree? Perhaps I'm intellectualizing it too much -- as most players do not think about it too much.

8:56 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

FYI, the NY Times today had an article on this.

And we are both wrong.
Here's the money graph
When the Jets called, Fitzhugh had about 30 minutes to decide. N.F.L. teams keep shortlists of available players in case of injury, but the summoned must leave immediately or teams move on. There is no sleeping on it. Later, Fitzhugh found out Norfolk Southern would have granted him a leave. Had he known that, he would have taken it. But he did not.

He didn't have enough information to make an informed decision.

12:36 AM  

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