CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. --
Jets or trains? That's the decision a man in Clayton County had to make. Former NFL player Keith Fitzhugh received a call from the league to play again. The free agent picked the railroad over the New York Jets.
Growing up, Fitzhugh had two dreams.
“Playing football and riding on trains,” said Fitzhugh.
The Mississippi State grad accomplished the first, being picked up by the New York Jets in 2009. He was later dropped by the team twice, and after a stint with the Baltimore Ravens, he was released in May.
“That was some of the toughest times I've ever been through because the only thing I had known was football, but I had my family on my side,” said Fitzhugh.
Prior to Tuesday's surprise call from the Jets, Fitzhugh thought his days on the gridiron were over. He has a steady job working for Norfolk Southern.
“Man, I was like, my heart started racing. I started sweating, but I knew it was decision time. I had to either play a guessing game, or a what if game, or did I want to have something stable,” said Fitzhugh.
He said the ups and downs of the past helped lead him to his decision.
Reporter Jennifer Mayerle said, “People might say, ‘He's turning down the NFL?’”
“Yeah, yeah they'll say that. They’re on the outside looking in. I've been on the inside. I know what it's like to be on an NFL team. I know what NFL players go through and it's not as easy as people think,” said Fitzhugh.
Fitzhugh said he had to think long-term, not short-term. Not even for a team with a chance at the Super Bowl. Right now, he said it's more important to help support his family.
“You only got one mom, one dad and I got to do what's best for me," said Fitzhugh.
It's a decision Jets head coach Rex Ryan said he admires.
“He's a guy with a lot of character. He's just a really outstanding young man,” said Ryan.