Keith Fitzhugh chooses family over football
It's not often that you see a perfectly healthy, NFL-ready person turn down an offer to join the roster of a playoff team, but Mississippi State grad Keith Fitzhugh(notes), who has spent time with the New York Jets and Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted free-agent safety, has decided to respectfully decline a recent offer by the Jets to be a part of their active roster.
Rex Ryan's defense was looking for new blood after losing safeties Jim Leonhard(notes) and James Ihedigbo(notes) for the season to injuries.
Despite their 45-3 killer loss to the Patriots on "Monday Night Football," the 9-3 Jets are still a near-mortal lock for the postseason, with possible Super Bowl glory in their future.
So why would Fitzhugh say "no"?
Because he's thinking about his family and its financial security. He's currently a conductor for the Norfolk Southern Railroad, and he's had that job since the Jets released him in September. There was no venom behind Fitzhugh's decicion to turn down the team that cut him; it's more about Fitzhugh's father, who is disabled and unable to work.
[Rewind: Stay-at-home dad turns football pro]
"I told them I'm very thankful for the opportunity," Fitzhugh recently recalled to Jenny Vrentas of NJ.com. "But right now, being that [NFL employment] would be for just a couple weeks, I feel that I'd rather stay with a secure company and job, somewhere I know I could have long-term employment."
Fitzhugh was the 12th-ranked safety coming out of college in 2009, according to NFLDraftScout.com. He is known as a dynamic hitter and good special teams player with some range in pass coverage. He caught the eye of scouts at the East-West Shrine game, and has advanced his talent forward enough to stay on the short list of replacement-need players. But Daniel Rose, Fitzhugh's agent, affirmed the thoughts behind his client's decision.
[Photo: Ex-NFL player turns to odd new sport]
"The kid has more heart than anybody I know," Rose told Vrentas. "This is his dream, to play. I don't think this is the last you've heard of Keith Fitzhugh."
Let's hope so. Fitzhugh is deferring his NFL dreams for all the right reasons, and that's the kind of guy whose dreams should come true down the road.
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