Doug Flutie

Last updated

Doug Flutie
Doug Flutie US Open 2009 (cropped).jpg
Flutie attending the 2009 US open
No. 2, 7
Position: Quarterback
Personal information
Born: (1962-10-23) October 23, 1962 (age 58)
Manchester, Maryland
Height:5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
Weight:180 lb (82 kg)
Career information
High school: Natick (MA)
College: Boston College
NFL Draft: 1985  / Round: 11 / Pick: 285
Career history
Career highlights and awards
CFL records
  • 6,619 passing yards, season
  • 48 passing touchdowns, season
Career NFL statistics
Passing yards:14,715
Passer rating:76.3
Career CFL statistics
Passing yards:41,355
Passer rating:103.9
Rushing yards:4,660
Rushing touchdowns:66
Player stats at

Douglas Richard Flutie (born October 23, 1962) is an American former gridiron football quarterback whose professional career spanned 21 seasons. He played 12 seasons in the National Football League (NFL), eight seasons in the Canadian Football League (CFL), and one season in the United States Football League (USFL). Flutie played college football at Boston College, where he won the Heisman Trophy in 1984 amid a season that saw him perform the iconic Hail Flutie, a game-winning touchdown pass thrown in the final seconds against Miami. [2] [3] [4] He chose to begin his professional career with the USFL's New Jersey Generals; his unavailability to NFL teams resulted in him selected 285th overall by the Los Angeles Rams in the 11th round of the 1985 NFL Draft, the lowest drafting of a Heisman winner. [5] After the USFL folded, Flutie played his first four NFL seasons with the Chicago Bears and New England Patriots.


Flutie left the NFL in 1990 for the CFL, where he became regarded as one of the league's greatest players. [6] [7] [8] As a member of the BC Lions, Calgary Stampeders, and Toronto Argonauts, Flutie was named the CFL's Most Outstanding Player a record six times while winning three Grey Cups. In all three of his championship victories — two with the Argonauts and one with the Stampeders — he received the Grey Cup MVP award.

Following his CFL success, Flutie returned to the NFL in 1998 with the Buffalo Bills, earning Pro Bowl and NFL Comeback Player of the Year honors for leading Buffalo to the playoffs. He again helped the Bills obtain a playoff berth the following season, but was controversially benched in their subsequent Wild Card defeat; Flutie would be the last quarterback to bring the Bills to the postseason over the next 17 years. Flutie held his last starting role with the San Diego Chargers in 2001 and spent his final professional season as a backup on the Patriots. He was inducted to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2007 and the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2008. Flutie was also inducted to Canada's Sports Hall of Fame in 2007, becoming the first non-Canadian inductee.

Early years

Flutie was born in Manchester, Maryland, to Dick and Joan Flutie. His paternal great-grandparents were Lebanese immigrants. [9] His family moved to Melbourne Beach, Florida, when he was six, where his father worked as a quality engineer in the aerospace industry. While there, Doug Flutie led Hoover Junior High School's football team to two Brevard County Championships. After the dramatic slow-down of the space program in the mid-1970s, the Flutie family again moved in 1976 to Natick, Massachusetts.

Flutie graduated from Natick High School, where he played for the "Redmen", now "Redhawks". He was an All-League performer in football, basketball, and baseball.

College years

Flutie played football for Boston College, the only Division I-A school to recruit him, from 1981 to 1984, and won the Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award, and the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award in his senior year (1984). Flutie became the first quarterback to win the Heisman since Pat Sullivan in 1971. Flutie left school as the NCAA’s all-time passing yardage leader with 10,579 yards and was a consensus All-American as a senior. He earned Player of the Year awards from UPI, Kodak, The Sporting News, and the Maxwell Football Club. The quarterback coach for Boston College from 1981 – 1983 was Tom Coughlin.

Flutie gained national attention in 1984 when he led the Eagles to victory in a high-scoring, back-and-forth game against the Miami Hurricanes (led by QB Bernie Kosar). The game was nationally televised on CBS the day after Thanksgiving and thus had a huge audience. Miami staged a dramatic drive to take the lead, 45–41, in the closing minute of the game. Boston College then took possession at its own 22-yard line with 28 seconds to go. After two passes moved the ball another 30 yards, only 6 seconds remained. On the last play of the game, Flutie scrambled away from the defense and threw a "Hail Mary pass" that was caught in the end zone by Gerard Phelan, giving BC a 47–45 win. Flutie won the Heisman trophy a week later, but the voting had finished before the game; [10] Flutie said, however, that "without the Hail Mary pass I think I could have been very easily forgotten". [11]

The subsequent rise in applications for admission to Boston College after Flutie's "Hail Mary" gave rise to the admissions phenomenon known as the "Flutie Effect". This idea essentially states that a winning sports team can increase the recognition value of a school enough to make it more attractive to potential applicants. [12]

In addition to his collegiate athletic achievement, Flutie maintained a distinguished academic record at Boston College. He was a candidate for a Rhodes Scholarship, for which he was named a finalist in 1984. [13] [14] Upon graduating, Flutie won a National Football Foundation post-graduate scholarship.

In November 2008, Flutie was honored by Boston College with a statue of him throwing his famous "Hail Mary" pass outside of Alumni Stadium. [15] His number, 22, has been retired by the Boston College football program.


1981 Boston College Independent 1110519254.71,65210867790
1982 Boston CollegeIndependent1216234746.72,7491320902650
1983 Boston CollegeIndependent1217734551.32,7241715692450
1984 Boston CollegeIndependent1223338660.43,4542711621490
1981–1984Total4 seasons476771,27053.310,57967542887380

Professional career

USFL career

Despite his successful college achievements, whether Flutie was too small to play professional football was uncertain. When asked on television "Can a guy who's five-foot-nine, 175 pounds make it in the pros?", he answered "Yes, he can. But it's a matter of ability and not size. I feel I can play; I don't know for sure, and those questions will be answered in the future." [11]

Flutie was seen as extremely attractive to the USFL, which was desperate for a star to reinvigorate the league as it was in financial difficulty. [16] Meanwhile, the Buffalo Bills, who had the first pick of the 1985 NFL Draft, still had the rights to Jim Kelly (who had earlier spurned them to go to the USFL) and also had concerns about Flutie's height. [17] He was selected by the USFL's New Jersey Generals in the 1985 territorial draft, which took place in January, months before the 1985 NFL Draft. [18] Flutie went through negotiations with the Generals and agreed on a deal that would make him the highest paid pro football player and highest paid rookie in any sport with $7 million over 5 years; [19] Flutie was officially signed on February 4, 1985. [20] Having already signed with the USFL, Flutie was not selected in the NFL Draft until the 11th round, and the 285th overall pick by the Los Angeles Rams.

Flutie entered the USFL with much hype and fanfare. However, many began to wonder if the scouts who said Flutie could not compete on the pro level were right. In February 1985, Flutie made his USFL debut against the Orlando Renegades. His debut was not impressive, as his first two professional passes were intercepted by Renegades line backer Jeff Gabrielsen. The only two touchdowns that New Jersey scored came from turnovers by Orlando quarterback Jerry Golsteyn. By the time Flutie's debut was over, he completed only 7 of 18 passes, for a total of 174 yards, while running for 51 yards. [21] Flutie completed 134 of 281 passes for 2,109 yards and 13 touchdowns with the Generals in 1985 in 15 games. He suffered an injury late in the season that saw him turn over the reins to reserve quarterback Ron Reeves. The Generals went on to sport an 11–7 record and a 2nd-place finish in the USFL's Eastern Conference. The USFL folded in 1986, and Flutie and punter Sean Landeta were the league's last active players in the NFL.[ citation needed ]

National Football League debut

On October 14, 1986, the Los Angeles Rams traded their rights to Doug Flutie to the Chicago Bears in exchange for multiple draft picks. [20] Flutie appeared in 4 games for the 1986 Chicago Bears.

Chicago then traded Flutie to the New England Patriots at the start of the 1987 NFL season, a season which saw the NFL Players Association go on strike, and NFL games subsequently being played by replacement players. Flutie crossed the picket lines in order to play for the Patriots, one of many NFL players to rejoin their respective teams, and the strike quickly collapsed. [22] Flutie would remain with the Patriots from 1987–1989, after which he left to play in the Canadian Football League.

Canadian Football League career

Flutie played in the Canadian Football League for eight years. He is considered one of the greatest players in Canadian football history. In 1990, he signed with the BC Lions for a two-year contract reportedly worth $350,000 a season. At the time he was the highest paid player in the CFL. Flutie struggled in his first season, which would be his only losing season in the CFL. In his second season, he threw for a record 6,619 yards on 466 completions. Flutie was rewarded with a reported million-dollar salary with the Calgary Stampeders.

Flutie won his first Grey Cup in 1992 with the Stampeders. He was named the Grey Cup MVP.

During his last years in Calgary, Flutie's backup was Jeff Garcia, who later went on to start for the NFL's San Francisco 49ers. Flutie won two more Grey Cups with the Toronto Argonauts, in 1996 (The Snow Bowl, held in Hamilton, Ontario) and 1997 (held in Edmonton, Alberta), before signing with the Buffalo Bills of the National Football League in 1998. Prior to his final two Grey Cup victories with the Argonauts, Flutie was hampered by the opinion, supported by the media, that he was a quarterback who could not win in cold weather. In both 1993 and 1994, the Stampeders had the best record in the league, but lost the Western Final each year at home in freezing conditions. After first refusing to wear gloves in freezing temperatures, in later years Flutie adapted to throwing with gloves in cold weather.

His career CFL statistics include 41,355 passing yards and 270 touchdowns. He holds the professional football record of 6,619 yards passing in a single season. He led the league in passing five times in only eight seasons. He once held four of the CFL's top five highest single-season completion marks, including a record 466 in 1991 which was surpassed by Ricky Ray in 2005. His 48 touchdown passes in 1994 remains a CFL record. He earned three Grey Cup MVP awards, and was named the CFL's Most Outstanding Player a record six times (1991–1994, and 1996–1997). He passed for 5,000+ yards six times in his career and remains the only player in pro football history to pass for 6,000+ yards in a season twice in his career.

On November 17, 2006, Flutie was named the greatest Canadian Football League player of all time from a top 50 list of CFL players conducted by TSN. [23] In 2007, he was named to Canada's Sports Hall of Fame, the first non-Canadian to be inducted. [24]

Return to the NFL

Buffalo Bills

The Buffalo Bills' then-pro personnel director A.J. Smith convinced the organization that Flutie would be a great asset to the team, and the Bills signed him in the 1998 offseason. The Bills' attempt at making Todd Collins their starting quarterback was a failure, and Flutie was one of two quarterbacks, the other being Rob Johnson (the presumptive starter), to join the Bills in the 1998 offseason. In his first action with the Bills, Flutie entered for an injured Johnson and passed for two TDs while leading a fourth-quarter comeback against the Indianapolis Colts on October 11, 1998. The following week, Doug Flutie made his first NFL start since October 15, 1989, against the unbeaten Jacksonville Jaguars. The nine-year gap between starts for a quarterback in the NFL is the third-longest in duration behind Tommy Maddox (December 12, 1992 to October 6, 2002) and the man Flutie replaced, Todd Collins (December 14, 1997 to December 16, 2007). Flutie was the hero of the Bills' victory as he scored the winning touchdown against the Jaguars by rolling out on a bootleg and into the end zone on a fourth-down play in the waning seconds. The Bills' success continued with Flutie at the helm; his record as a starter that season was 8 wins and 3 losses. Flutie was selected to play in the 1998 Pro Bowl and is currently the shortest quarterback to make the Pro Bowl since 1970. [25]

Flutie led the Bills to a 10–5 record in 1999 but, in a controversial decision, was replaced by Johnson for the playoffs by coach Wade Phillips, who later said he had been ordered by Bills owner Ralph Wilson to do so. Rob Johnson completed only ten passes, none for touchdowns, and was sacked six times, as the Bills lost 22–16 to the eventual AFC Champion Tennessee Titans. The game has become known as the Music City Miracle, as the Titans scored on the penultimate play of the game – a kickoff return following the Bills' apparent game-clinching field goal.

The following season, Flutie was named the Bills' backup and only played late in games or when Johnson was injured, which was often. In fact, during the season, Flutie had a 4–1 record as a starter, in comparison to Johnson's 4–7. In a December 24, 2000 game against the Seattle Seahawks, Flutie achieved a perfect passer rating, completing 20 of 25 passes for 366 yards and three touchdowns. Following the 2000 season, Bills President Tom Donahoe and head coach Gregg Williams decided to keep Johnson as the starter and cut Flutie.

San Diego Chargers

In 2001, Flutie signed with the San Diego Chargers, who had gone 1–15 in 2000. After opening 3–0, the Chargers slumped and were 4–2 going into Week 7, when Flutie's Chargers met Rob Johnson's Bills. Flutie prevailed as the new ex-Bill broke a sack attempt and ran 13 yards for the game-winning touchdown. It would be the last win for the Chargers in 2001, as they dropped their last nine games to finish 5–11 and cost head coach Mike Riley his job. (Buffalo finished 3–13 with Johnson and, later, Alex Van Pelt as starters.) Flutie was Drew Brees's backup in 2002. Brees had idolized Flutie growing up, and credits Flutie with mentoring him during their time together with San Diego.

In 2003, Flutie replaced a struggling Brees when the Chargers were 1–7. The 41-year-old Flutie became the oldest player to score two rushing touchdowns in a game, the first player over 40 to accomplish that feat. He also became the oldest AFC Offensive Player of the Week, winning the award for the fourth time. On January 2, 2005, the season finale of the 2004 season, Flutie broke Jerry Rice's record set two weeks prior, to become the oldest player ever to score a touchdown, at the age 42 years and 71 days. Rice was 42 years and 67 days when he made his touchdown. Flutie's record as a starter that year was 2–3. He was released from the Chargers on March 13, 2005.

Return to the Patriots

Flutie surprised many when he signed with the New England Patriots instead of the New York Giants. He became the backup behind Tom Brady and played several times at the end of games to take a few snaps. Flutie has a 37–28 record as an NFL starter, including a 22–9 record in home games.

Referring to his time in the Canadian Football League (and, presumably, to the quarterback's relatively diminutive stature), television football commentator John Madden once said, "Inch for inch, Flutie in his prime was the best QB of his generation."

In a December 26, 2005 game against the New York Jets, Flutie was sent in late in the game. The Jets also sent in their back-up quarterback, Vinny Testaverde. This was the first time in NFL history that two quarterbacks over the age of 40 competed against each other (Testaverde was 42, Flutie was 43).

In the Patriots' regular-season finale against the Miami Dolphins on January 1, 2006, Flutie successfully drop kicked a football for an extra point, something that had not been done in a regular-season NFL game since 1941. It was Flutie's first kick attempt in the NFL, and earned him that week's title of AFC Special Teams Player of the Week. [26] Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, known for his knowledge of the history of the game, made comments that suggested that the play was a retirement present of sorts for his veteran quarterback, although Flutie had made no comment on whether 2005 would be his last season. [27] There is video of Flutie describing the event in his own words. [28]

During the 2006 off-season, Flutie's agent Kristen Kuliga stated he was interested in returning to the Patriots for another season; as a result, he was widely expected to return, despite his age. However, on May 15, 2006, Flutie announced his decision to "hang up his helmet" at the age of 43 and retire. Flutie was the second-to-last former USFL player to retire, behind Sean Landeta. [29]

Flutie has the most rushing yards (212) for any player after turning 40 years old.

Near-return to the CFL

Because of injuries with the Toronto Argonauts, Flutie was contemplating a temporary comeback with the team as of July 25, 2006. Flutie did not plan to play long-term, for he had planned on doing college football commentary on ESPN in the coming season. [30] On August 18, 2006, a story was published on examining this topic in-depth. [31] Flutie was pondering a return to the CFL because of his relationship with Argonauts head coach and former running back Pinball Clemons, and the desire to "say goodbye to the CFL". According to the report, Flutie was poised to return to Toronto on July 22, after their victory over the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the injury to backup quarterback Spergon Wynn. Nevertheless, Flutie chose to remain in retirement.

Career statistics

1985 NJG USFL 151513428147.62,1097.5131467.8654657.26
1986 CHI NFL 41234650.03617.83280.19364.01
1987 CHI NFL 10000.000.0000.0000.00
NE NFL 11152560.01998.01098.66437.20
1988 NE NFL 1199217951.41,1506.481063.3381794.71
1989 NE NFL 53369139.64935.42446.616875.40
1990 BC CFL 16820739252.82,9607.6161971.0796628.13
1991 BC CFL 181846673063.86,6199.1382496.71206105.114
1992 CAL CFL 181839668857.55,9458.6323083.4966697.011
1993 CAL CFL 181841670359.16,0928.7441798.3743735.011
1994 CAL CFL 181840365959.15,7268.74819101.5967607.98
1995 CAL CFL 11*1022333267.12,7888.4165102.8462886.35
1996 TOR CFL 181843466765.05,7208.4291795.91017567.59
1997 TOR CFL 181843067363.95,5058.2472497.8925425.95
1998 BUF NFL 131020235457.12,7117.7201187.4482485.21
1999 BUF NFL 151526447855.23,1716.6191675.1884675.41
2000 BUF NFL 11513223157.11,7007.48386.5361614.51
2001 SD NFL 161629452156.43,4646.6151872.0531923.61
2002 SD NFL 1031127.3645.80051.3166.00
2003 SD NFL 759116754.51,0976.69482.8331685.12
2004 SD NFL 21203852.62767.31085.05397.82
2005 NE NFL 5051050.0292.90056.25−1−0.20
1985USFL1 year151513428147.62,1097.5131467.8654657.26
'86–'89 '98–'05NFL12 yrs91661,1772,15154.714,7156.8866876.33381,6344.810
'90–'97CFL8 yrs1352,9754,84461.441,3558.527015594.17044,6606.666
'85–'05Total21 yrs2414,2867,27658.958,1798.036923787.81,0976,7596.182

* Flutie only saw game action in 10 of the 11 games he dressed for during the 1995 season.

Championships and accomplishments

Dancing with the Stars

On March 8, 2016, Flutie was announced as one of the celebrities who would compete on season 22 of Dancing with the Stars . He was partnered with professional dancer Karina Smirnoff. On April 25, 2016, Flutie and Smirnoff were eliminated, finishing in ninth place. [33]

Doug Flutie's Maximum Football Video Game

On November 20, 2018, a partnership deal was announced between Doug Flutie and the Maximum-Football video game (Canuck Play/Spear Interactive). Future iterations of the game will be rebranded as Doug Flutie's Maximum Football and feature Flutie's likeness. The game released on the PS4 and Xbox One in the Fall of 2019. [34] On February 4, 2020, the game was available to purchase as a physical copy.

Personal life

Flutie is the older brother of the CFL's fourth all-time receptions leader, Darren Flutie. Flutie also has an older brother, Bill, and an older sister, Denise. His nephew Billy Flutie (son of Bill) was a wide receiver/punter at Boston College from 2007–2010. [35] Another of Flutie's nephews, Troy (son of Darren), played quarterback and wide receiver for Boston College from 2015-17. [36] Flutie is the second son of Richard and Joan Flutie. [37] Flutie is married to his high school sweetheart, Laurie, (née Fortier). They have a daughter, Alexa, formerly a New England Patriots Cheerleader and San Diego Chargers Cheerleader, [38] and a son, Doug Jr, who has autism. The Fluties established The Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism, Inc. in honor of him. Flutie also created a cereal, Flutie Flakes, with the benefits going toward this organization. In his free time, he attends college football and basketball games at his alma mater Boston College and was a season ticket-holder. He has spent his summers in Bethany Beach, Delaware, frequenting basketball courts. He also has worked with the local Massachusetts Eastern Bank and is a spokesman for Natick/Framingham's Metrowest Medical Center. He is a member of the Longfellow Sports Clubs at their Wayland and Natick locations. Flutie relocated from Natick to Florida, but was honored by Natick in November 2007 by being inducted into the Natick High School Wall of Achievement. A short stretch of road connecting the Natick Mall and the Shoppers' World Mall in Natick / Framingham, MA is named "Flutie Pass" in honor of his historic 1984 play against Miami.

Flutie during a Flutie Brothers Band concert in 2009. Dougflutie.JPG
Flutie during a Flutie Brothers Band concert in 2009.

Flutie frequents Melbourne Beach, Florida in winter, and a sports field complex there is named after him.

For a time, he was part-owner of a restaurant in New York's South Street Seaport named "Flutie's." [39]

With his brother Darren on guitar, Doug plays drums in the Flutie Brothers Band, and once played for Boston at a tribute honoring Doug. November 13, 2006, was Doug Flutie Day in Boston. Flutie endorsed Scott Brown for the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts for 2010, [40] [41] and the Flutie Brothers Band played at Brown's victory celebration. [42] In 2014 Flutie, who has a charity team that was running, decided to run the Boston Marathon two days before the race, [43] and finished in 5:23:54. [44]

On November 18, 2015, Flutie's parents Dick and Joan Flutie died from heart attacks one hour apart. [45] Dick Flutie had been ill and hospitalized. [46]

Halls of Fame

See also

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Further reading