If you’re a New England Patriots’ fan, especially one who follows the team in every single way, then you know who Paul “Fitzy” Fitzgerald is.
Yes, you also know his real name is Nick Stevens. With that said, when it comes to all things Pats, this guy is “Fitzy” and no one else.
Nick was awesome enough to take time out of his busy schedule to tell us about how he became such a Pats’ fanatic, how he got into following and covering the team as Fitzy, and much more.
This was a lot of fun to do and something that was in the works for a long time. I hope you enjoy it!
PH: How did you get into sports growing up?
NS/PFF: You can’t be born or grow up in New England, let alone the greater Boston area, without being a die-hard, year round, dyed-in-the-wool, obsessive to the point of unhealthy sports fan. It’s a cradle to grave, all-consuming way of life.
I was born and raised in the South Shore, so living for and through the Red Sox (who as a child of the 80’s literally broke my heart), Pats (as bad as they often were), Celtics (you never forget your first championship) and Bruins (not a big hockey guy, but I love them none the less) is just what you do. Plus my dad was a gambler, so sports were on all the time, and let’s just say I had rooting interests on a nightly basis in plenty of teams outside New England.
PH: Who were some of your favorite players when you were a kid?
NS/PFF: Steve Grogan might have been the first player I “liked”, but I knew nothing better…though in hindsight the ‘stache and neckroll were styling.
Larry Bird was my absolute favorite, though Roger Clemens gave him a run for his money. Dwight Evans, Ray Bourque…all the usual suspects. And Hulk Hogan. Show me a kid who grew up in the 80’s who didn’t idolize Hulk Hogan or suffer from Hulkamania and I’ll show you a New Englander who doesn’t think Brady is GOAT.
PH: We know you’re a great comedian, but considering this is a sports site, at what point did you realize that you could be great at covering them in some capacity?
NS/PFF: You’re too kind! Stop, please! No…go on. Flattery will get you everywhere with me, fella. Now, where were we? Yes…Steve Grogan’s neckroll (that would be a great name for a sandwich at a sub shop, right? Or a dessert like a Jimmy Roll!)
Sports always factored into my comedy or anything creative I did. From stand-up to my student films at NYU, sketch comedy post-grad in New York City and more.
The two things that told me involving sports in my performances were a wise choice were when I started doing Fitzy on stage in the early 2000’s in New York City. Audiences loved the attitude, accent and perspective that came with a mouthy Southie type talking sorts, cinema and such on stage.
And second, when I earned a spot as a finalist on ESPN’s Dream Job in 2004, competing among 12 to be a SportsCenter anchor. That was definitely the tipping point…regardless of the show’s outcome (spoiler: I didn’t win).
PH: What outlets do you currently cover sports for?
NS/PFF: Though I have covered sports and generated content for a number of networks, outlets, sites and stations, right now it’s for me, myself and I.
Our site and channels are a place where people can come bask in the outrageous and inappropriate of the New England sports fan’s mind anytime. And hopefully we’ll find the sponsorship and financing to continue the madness for quite some time.
PH: How did you get so heavily involved with covering the Pats from a fan’s perspective?
NS/PFF: Somehow they’ve always been my favorite of the four major teams in Boston. Football was king in our house, from an enjoyment (and gambling) perspective, even with the Celts so good in the 80’s and the Sox trying to kill everyone. Just loved it.
Can’t play worth a BLANK…couldn’t even get on the field in high school because my head was so big they couldn’t get me a helmet that fit. Honest!
Once the Pats rebooted with Kraft Parcells and Bledsoe in the 90’s it became even more passionate and dedicated for me. And when Brady took over…and I was there in Foxborough Stadium that Sunday when Mo Lewid hit Bledsoe…the bromance was eternal.
Coverage and my approach/commitment to being that goofball Patriots mad-fan on the Internet started about three months after I launched my YouTube channel at the behest of one of my best friends from college.
I went from reviewing movies to talking Pats for one video, and views went from 250 to 25,000. All the convincing I needed.
PH: What do you try to provide to the people who follow your content on a regular basis?
NS/PFF: I use all the major social platforms, except for Snapchat. Maybe I’m in my 40’s, or maybe I wanna be more like Belichick, but I don’t get SnapFace.
Otherwise…from blog posts and quick commentaries, classic YouTube rants and Instagram videos (which I’ve gotten behind in the past two years because it’s such an awesome and immediate way to share thoughts and rants), I try to regularly present a POV that is unique but honest, absurd but articulate. Seems a few other folks out there are as deranged as I am.
PH: What is it like being a sports celebrity and having a ton of followers who love your work?
NS/PFF: I used to run from the idea of having fans or people wanting to hang out or do what I do…but now that I’ve lived in Massachusetts again for a couple years, I’ve had a chance to re-immerse myself in the area and culture, and it’s awesome.
To have people tell me how much they like the videos, or how they watch them with friends or family and that association keeps them close or brings joy, or how some of the videos are the first way fans get cheered up after big losses…that shows impact and resonance.
As silly as some of the things I say and have made are, they matter to a lot of people. And in turn that maters to me. Fans are all ages, mostly from New England, but now all over the world, which is incredible. And yes, lots of dudes. If I had a dime for every selfie I have taken with a dude in football stadium parking lot I would be writing this from my diamond castle.
PH: We also know that you do some work for the Patriots as a podcaster and someone who is a part of their fan rallies. What would your response be if they ever asked you to be a full-time “fanalyst” for them?
NS/PFF: If they called right now I’d be so psyched I wouldn’t even finish typing this sent…
Actually, I like working for them for some games, some special events, but not full-time. I wouldn’t be able to maintain the colorful language and twisted POV I live by were I to be a full-time Pats employee.
I think I have a responsibility to what I started, Pats fans and where I came from to embrace those special opportunities but still be true to who and what I am/do. Something like that.
PH: What is it like being a fan of a team that has won six Super Bowls? Does anything really surprise you any more when it comes to this franchise?
NS/PFF: It doesn’t suck! No, nothing surprises me now. Nothing. In fact I come to expect things like getting ravaged in free agency, fans freaking out, the team reinventing itself regularly, regular season dominance, improbable Super Bowl runs…with Brady and Belichick in place there are certain things you’re allowed to expect, and yet you always keep eyes open and head on a swivel for what unbelievable accomplishment could come next.
I just hope people appreciate how unprecedented and unbelievable this run by the Pats has been. We will never see anything or anyone like this run, or Brady and Belichick, again.
Cherishing that, and realizing how amazing it’s been, gives you the comfort to know “haters” are mostly just jealous, which even through their disdain is sign of respect. They only hate us cuz they ain’t us.
It’s cool. I would too! But I don’t have to, so eff em all and LFG, Pats!
PH: Lastly, any future plans when it comes to being a fanalyst? We know that sports media is changing every day so how do your see yourself getting more involved with it as time goes on?
NS/PFF: I like my lanes. I don’t need to be embraced by teams, celebs, networks or anything more established to feel like I matter more, or the work we’ve done (my brother is the main cameraman and editor) will mean more.
It’s great to know it’s had the impact it has, and we’ll keep it up as long as Brady and Belichick are there.