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The man who turned down the Jets to be a train conductor

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Ten years ago, Keith Fitzhugh chose not to pursue a last chance to live his NFL dream for a less glamorous, but steadier job. And while he misses the game, he still feels he made the right call.

Emily Blunt was happy to cede the spotlight.

Her “Tonight Show” segment was over, so she moved one chair farther from Jay Leno, making room for an unfamiliar guest first being introduced to the audience at Burbank Studios and viewers at home. Keith Fitzhugh had been carried across the country by an unexpected whirlwind, placing the former NFL safety between the famous host and Hollywood star.

Fitzhugh landed there because he sacrificed his dream. He was there because he sacrificed money. He was there because he sacrificed a chance to play on a Super Bowl contender. He was there because he chose family over football.

In December 2010, Fitzhugh, then 24, rejected an invitation to join Rex Ryan’s New York Jets and chose to remain a conductor with Norfolk Southern Railroad. The decision was hard for anyone to believe. It made it so easy for him to find new fans. It made Blunt delighted to move one seat down.



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