Ryan Fitzpatrick has been benched plenty of times in his career. That will happen when you spend 16 NFL seasons with eight different clubs.
This week's demotion in Miami in favor of Tua Tagovailoa felt different for FitzMagic.
The 37-year-old quarterback told reporters Wednesday that Brian Flores' decision to name Tua the starter broke his heart, and he was "shocked" by the news.
"My heart just hurt all day," Fitzpatrick said. "It was heartbreaking for me. Flo said what he said, and said what he said to you guys as well, and that's the decision and direction the organization is going in. Obviously, we've talked in the past about how, I'm the placeholder, and this eventually was going to happen. It was just a matter of when, not if. It still just broke my heart yesterday and it's a tough thing for me to hear and to know have to deal with. And I'm going to do my best with it."
The timing of the move to Tagovailoa is interesting given that the Dolphins are coming off back-to-back blowout wins that got them to 3-3 and in the thick of the AFC playoff hunt, in part thanks to Fitzpatrick's play. On the flip side, the veteran QB hasn't spun magic all season. His seven INTs are the third-most in the NFL.
Making the move now during the bye also gives Flores and the staff extra time to prep their new starter.
The reasons don't make it easier for Fitzpatrick.
"I basically got fired yesterday, and today my day consisted of Zoom meetings with the guy that fired me and sitting in a room with the guy who replaced me for four hours," he said.
The rookie quarterback knows his future means the end of the line for Fitzpatrick in Miami. Tua noted their relationship is "like a father and son."
"That's news anyone would love to hear, being named the starter at any position," Tua said. "But I definitely felt for Fitz as well. And me and Fitz had a conversation about the situation."
It's clear that Fitz is a leader in Miami, a team that's played better than most give them credit for nationally. Even in their three losses, the Dolphins were in it until the end thanks to underrated defensive performances and some wild plays from Fitzpatrick.
Given how he's led the Dolphins the past year-plus, Flores has earned the benefit of the doubt for choosing to make his move to Tua. The future is now in Miami.
Fitzpatrick knew the score the moment the Dolphins made Tagovailoa the No. 5 overall pick. It didn't make the news any easier to digest for an NFL nomad who finally felt like he'd found a home again.
"I've been benched for all kinds of different ways, but this was kind of the first place other than Buffalo that I've been fully committed and invested. I felt like it was my team," he said.
Now, the question is, have we seen the last of the bearded sage in an NFL uniform?
"Is this it? Was that my last game in the NFL, being a starter?" Fitzpatrick pondered.
If it is, it's been one hell of a ride.