CHATHAM, N.J. -- Two weeks ago, the New York Jets' mane man -- Ryan Fitzpatrick -- decided it was time for a new look. He went to his local barbershop and, after phoning a couple of famous friends for last-minute advice, he instructed hair stylist Curtis Kyzima to trim his prodigious beard.
Since then, Fitzpatrick has been one of the hottest quarterbacks in the NFL -- six touchdown passes, no interceptions, 667 yards and two big wins, including a hair-raising finish against the New York Giants.
You don't have to be Sherlock Combs to connect the dots: He lost the scruff and snapped out of a two-game slump, hardly a coincidence to the folks at V's Barbershop.
"Any time you get a haircut, you have more confidence in yourself because you're clean-shaven and look good. So, yeah, I'd definitely say it's had an impact on his game," Kyzima said, laughing.
Kyzima, 19, is a die-hard Jets fan, so he understands the football reasons behind Fitzpatrick's career year. But he also thinks it's kind of cool that his razor and comb played a small part in the veteran quarterback's 2015 story.
Now he's invested in the team more than ever. Kyzima watched the end of the Jets-Giants game on the barbershop TV, sitting in the same chair as Fitzpatrick did on his most recent visit.
"I'm happy he's playing like a champion," Kyzima said.
Fitzpatrick has visited the shop five or six times, according to owner Jamie Emma. He's known as a regular guy with no ego -- and a generous tipper. He left a $100 tip for a $25 haircut and a $12 beard trim. He was a first-time customer for Kyzima, who said his heart was "racing 1,000 miles per hour." He might have been a little nervous, but he held it together, steadying his hand as he used a straight razor on the quarterback's neck.
When Fitzpatrick arrived that day, he still was undecided on what to do with his bushy beard. Part of him wanted to keep it. Another part of him, cognizant of the team's losing streak, wanted to change the mojo. Sitting in the chair, the quarterback, accustomed to having the plays sent to him via headset, reversed the process. He called out for instructions.
Fitzpatrick took out his cellphone and conducted separate FaceTime conversations with his wide receivers, Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. (Usually, split ends aren't helpful during haircuts.) The consensus: Lose the beard.
"We took it down, little by little," Kyzima said.
A neatly groomed quarterback emerged. Since then, Fitzpatrick's stature has regrown faster than the beard.