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Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick Has Already Mastered One System: the Rubik’s Cube


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Because I am smart I read the Wall Street Journal. Because you don't I am sharing with you this heartwarming story that you would have otherwise missed.




Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick Has Already Mastered One System: the Rubik’s Cube
The Harvard economics major asked his 12-year-old neighbor to teach him how to solve the puzzle. Now he races his 8-year-old son.
New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick races against his son Brady and WSJ’s Stu Woo to see who can solve a Rubik’s Cube the fastest. Photo: Carly Marsh/The Wall Street Journal
Aug. 12, 2015 2:42 p.m. ET

One evening this March, 12-year-old Jacob Dixon was crossing the street to his suburban Houston home when a voice behind him bellowed, “Hey dude! I need your help!”

It was NFL quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who had played for the Texans the previous season. Under the darkening sky, he was sitting alone at the picnic table on his lawn, a scrambled Rubik’s Cube in his hands. Jacob, his sixth-grade neighbor, had already shown Fitzpatrick how to solve it, but the quarterback was having trouble with the final steps.

“He was so stumped,” Jacob said.

Things tend to come pretty easily to the 32-year-old Fitzpatrick. He was an economics major at Harvard, and he scored one of the highest grades ever recorded on the Wonderlic aptitude test for prospective NFL players. A 10-year veteran, he landed with the Jets this off-season and unexpectedly became the team’s starter on Tuesday after a teammate broke quarterback Geno Smith’s jaw in a locker-room scuffle.

Every year, he tries to master a hobby or two as part of what he calls his off-season “bucket list.” One year it was woodworking. Last year it was brushing up on Spanish via the Rosetta Stone course and learning to write computer programs. He made a videogame called “Flappy Brady,” a knockoff of “Flappy Bird,” in which he replaced the title character with a winged version of his 8-year-old son, Brady.

His goal this year was to figure out the Rubik’s Cube, the iconic twisty puzzle. “I just always thought it would be cool,” Fitzpatrick said. The father of five tried to learn from the Internet but got confused, so he spent his off-season asking kids like Jacob for help.


In May, he hit the jackpot. While commuting from New Jersey to Houston, Fitzpatrick, sporting his signature long beard, was recognized by about 20 Texas eighth-graders at the airport. He posed for photos with them and, to be polite, asked one girl why she was wearing a cast on her wrist.

“This is going to sound embarrassing,” Fitzpatrick recalled her saying. She explained that she had worn out her wrist “speed-cubing”—the competitive sport of trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube as quickly as possible.

Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and his two sons, Tate (left) and Brady (right), play with Rubik's Cubes at the Jets’ practice facility in Florham Park, N.J. PHOTO: CARLY MARSH/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Sensing his opportunity, Fitzpatrick pulled from his bag a special Rubik’s Cube that had four rows of four tiles, rather than the normal three rows of three tiles, and asked for a tutorial.

“I got all excited,” he said. For the five minutes before Fitzpatrick had to board his flight, the girl in a cast and another girl gave him a primer on how to solve the puzzle.

But it is Jacob Dixon, now 13 years old and about to enter the seventh grade, who claims most of the credit for inspiring Fitzpatrick’s Rubik’s Cube fixation. He lived across the street from the Fitzpatrick family. About a dozen kids between ages 5 and 14 also lived on the dead-end street in Bellaire, Texas, and they and their parents would congregate around the Fitzpatrick’s picnic table many afternoons to do homework and play games.

One day after school, Jacob brought his Rubik’s Cube. “You know how to solve that?” Fitzpatrick asked.

Jacob said he did.

“I’ve always wanted to learn,” Fitzpatrick said. “Can you teach me?”

So Jacob showed him the basics.

Fitzpatrick bought a cube and spent a few days trying to solve it using directions from the Internet. He could complete two of the puzzle’s layers, but the final one was still vexing him. He needed another lesson. When he spotted Jacob, who was heading home for dinner after playing videogames with Fitzpatrick’s sons, he hollered at him. The boy ran back, saw the unfinished Rubik’s Cube and laughed. Jacob tried to explain what the quarterback was doing wrong, but gave up after 10 minutes.

“The mosquitoes started killing us,” Jacob said. Fitzpatrick asked him to teach him another time.

An image from “Flappy Brady,” a videogame Ryan Fitzpatrick created for his 8-year-old son, Brady. PHOTO: RYAN FITZPATRICK

Later that night, Jacob grabbed his Rubik’s Cube cheat sheet, a piece of notebook paper on which a former summer-camp counselor had written directions to solving the puzzle. The ink was faded, so Jacob neatly copied the directions by hand onto a fresh sheet of computer paper. He finished around 11:30 p.m., 90 minutes after his bedtime.

Jacob put the instructions in an envelope, which he labeled:

To Mr. Fitzpatrick: 
(Rubik’s Cube)

“I did it just for him, because he was really struggling,” Jacob said. The boy, who wants to be a businessman or professional baseball player when he grows up, slipped the envelope in the Fitzpatricks’ mailbox the next morning before going to school.

When Jacob got home, Fitzpatrick said he showed him the completed Rubik’s Cube. “Thanks for the note,” the proud quarterback said.

Nowadays, Fitzpatrick can solve the Cube in about 90 seconds. This week, he completed the four-by-four cube for the first time. And he’s been teaching others how to do it, like injured Jets tight end Zach Sudfeld.

One of his pupils has already surpassed him: Brady, his 8-year-old son. The third-grade math whiz, who charmed the Internet last year when he quickly multiplied 97 by 93 in his head while standing next to his dad at a Texans news conference, now routinely bests his father in races to complete the puzzle. His best time: 1 minute, 21 seconds.

“Last night, I beat him three times in a row,” Brady said.



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