Flutie Is A Hero Like No Other
Labeled "Too Short" He's Larger Than Life
Steve Burton of WBZ-TV CBS4 reported Sunday that New England Patriots quarterback Doug Flutie is expected to tell head coach Bill Belichick that he is retiring from football.
According to Burton's sources, Flutie will retire unless Belichick can talk him out of it. I for one think it's unlikely Belichick will make a great effort to change his mind. It's not his style to make other people's decisions for them. He more takes the information and deals with it.
Flutie reportedly has major networks seeking to acquire his services for broadcasting, a natural step for a very intelligent and very articulate personality.
Flutie's family moved to Natick, Mass., in 1976, and he graduated high school there. He went to Boston College where he brought the Eagles to national prominence, eventually leading the team to a Cotton Bowl appearance.
Flutie's immortal moment came the day after Thanksgiving in 1984 in what has been called the greatest college football play ever, and listed by TV Guide in 1998 as one of "The Greatest Televised Sports Moments Ever."
With seven seconds left to play, and Miami leading, Flutie took the snap, rolled out to his right, avoided a tackle, rolled out more and heaved a "Hail Mary" to wide receiver Gerard Phelan in the end zone for a 47-45 win as time expired, shocking the heavily favored Hurricanes.
Flutie won the Heisman Trophy that year.
Knocked for being "too short," Flutie found a temporary home with the New Jersey Generals in the United States Football League. However, the USFL folded in 1986, but Destiny took an odd spin, and Flutie found his way into the NFL by crossing NFL player union strike lines in 1987 and eventually signed with the Chicago Bears.
He was traded to the Patriots, where he played limited time for three years.
Not enjoying the success he craved in the NFL, Flutie headed north to the Canadian Football League, where he became a legend all over again.
He first signed with the British Columbia Lions for $350,000, at the time, the highest salary in the league. He later signed with the Calgary Stampeders for $1 million.
Flutie led the Stampeders to a Grey Cup win, the CFL equivalent of the Super Bowl, in 1992. He won two more Grey Cups with the Toronto Argonauts in 1996 and 1997. He was the MVP of all three games. He left the CFL with piles of records and awards.
Flutie returned to the NFL in 1998, signing with the Buffalo Bills. He suffered several more years of unfulfilled promises, as Bills management completely lost control of their quarterback situation, sitting Flutie, who had been consistently winning, while allowing Doug Johnson to drag the team to substandard performance.
After three years in Buffalo, Flutie found himself in San Diego for four more years of stagnant potential.
He finally found himself back in Boston, back in familiar red, white and blue, in 2005 when he signed again with New England as a backup to New England's new hero quarterback, Tom Brady. Flutie saw limited action, but the Patriots failed to earn a bid to their fourth Super Bowl in five years.
All that said, Flutie is and has always been far more than a football hero. A noted all-around athlete, Flutie has been seen on basketball courts, baseball diamonds and hockey rinks around New England. He also plays drums in The Flutie Brothers Band.
But perhaps his greatest accomplishment, as he'll tell you, is his founding and his work with The Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism. Flutie founded the organization in 1998 in the name of his son, Doug Jr., who was born in 1991 and diagnosed autistic at the age of three.
The foundation's mission is "to aid financially disadvantaged families who need assistance in caring for their children with autism; to fund education and research into the causes and consequences of childhood autism; and to serve as a clearinghouse and communications center for new programs and services developed for individuals with autism."
After following his career for nearly 25 years, it's going to be strange not to hear Flutie's name somewhere during football season. But those of us who have followed certainly wish him well in retirement. He, if anyone, has earned it.