Douglas Richard Flutie (born October 23, 1962) is a former player of American and Canadian football who was aquarterback in the National Football League (NFL), Canadian Football League (CFL), and United States Football League (USFL). He first rose to prominence during his college football career at Boston College, where he received the Heisman Trophy and the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award in 1984. His “Hail Mary“touchdown pass in a game against Miami on November 23, 1984 (dubbed “The Pass“) is considered among the greatest moments in college football and American sports history. Flutie was selected as the 285th pick in the 11th round of the 1985 NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Rams, making him the lowest drafted Heisman Award winner among those who were drafted. Flutie played that year for the New Jersey Generals of the upstart USFL. In 1986 he signed with the NFL’s Chicago Bears, and later played for the New England Patriots, becoming their starting quarterback in 1988.
Flutie signed with the BC Lions of the CFL in 1990, and in 1991, threw for a record 6,619 yards. He played briefly with his brother Darren, a wide receiver, before being traded to the Calgary Stampeders, whom he led to victory in the 1992 Grey Cup. In 1994, he threw a record 48 touchdown passes. Flutie played for the Stampeders until 1996, when he signed with the Toronto Argonauts, leading them to back-to-back Grey Cup victories in 1996 and 1997. Flutie was named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player a record six times, and was named the MVP in all three of his Grey Cup victories.
He returned to the NFL in 1998 with the Buffalo Bills, where he earned Pro Bowl and NFL Comeback Player of the Year honors. He played for the San Diego Chargers from 2001 to 2004, and finished his career as a member of the New England Patriots in 2005. In 2006, he was ranked #1 in a list of the top 50 CFL players. He was named to the College Football Hall of Fame and Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2007.
After retiring in 2006, Flutie served as a college football analyst for ESPN and ABC. In 2009, he joined Versusas a broadcaster for United Football League games. Since 2011, he has worked for NBC Sports and NBCSN.
Flutie was born in Baltimore, Maryland to Dick and Joan Flutie. His grandfather was the son of a Lebaneseimmigrant. His family moved to Melbourne Beach, Florida when he was 6, where his father, Richard, worked as an engineer in the aerospace industry. While there Doug Flutie led Hoover Middle 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.
High school years
Flutie graduated from Natick High School, where he played for the now “Redhawks”. He was an All-League performer in football, basketball, and baseball.
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; Flutie said, however, that “without the Hail Mary pass I think I could have been very easily forgotten”.
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 university enough to make it a more elite school.
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. Upon graduating, Flutie won a National Football Foundation post-graduate scholarship.
In November 2008, Doug Flutie was honored by Boston College with a statue of him throwing his famous “Hail Mary” pass outside of Alumni Stadium. His number, 22, has been retired by the Boston College football program.
Despite his successful college career, 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.”
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. 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. He was selected by the USFL‘s New Jersey Generals (owned by Donald Trump) in the 1985 territorial draft, which took place in January, months before the 1985 NFL Draft. Flutie went through negotiations with Trump 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; Flutie was officially signed on February 4, 1985. Having already signed with the USFL, Flutie was not selected in the NFL Draft until the 11th round, 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 of 1985, Flutie made his USFL debut against the Orlando Renegades. His debut was horrible, 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 only 51 yards.  Flutie completed 134 of 281 passes for 2,109 yards and 13 TD’s 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 QB 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.
National Football League debut
On October 14, 1986, Flutie, who was originally drafted by the L.A. Rams, had his rights traded to the Chicago Bears in exchange for draft picks. Flutie would later make his debut on the 1986 Chicago Bears, appearing in 4 games.
Flutie was then traded 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, and charges of being a scab dogged him thereafter. 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 8 years. He is revered as one of the greatest quarterbacks ever to play Canadian football. In 1990 he signed with theBC 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. Over the next seven years he would go 99-27 as a starter. 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.
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 theToronto Argonauts, in 1996 (The Snow Bowl) and 1997, 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 6,000 yards 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. In 2007 he was named to Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, the first non-Canadian to be inducted.
Return to the NFL
Flutie became the Buffalo Bills‘ quarterback five games into the 1998 season. The Bills were initially uninterested in signing him, but then-pro personnel director A.J. Smith successfully convinced the organization that Flutie would be a great asset to the team. In his first action with the Bills, Flutie entered for an injured Rob Johnsonand passed for two TDs while leading a fourth-quarter comeback against the Indianapolis Colts on October 11, 1998. The following week, Doug Flutie would make 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 was the second-longest in duration (behind Tommy Maddox) until the 2007 season. Flutie would be 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.
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. The Bills lost 22–16 to the eventual AFC Champion Tennessee Titans in a game that has become known for the Music City Miracle, where 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, respectively, finished 3-13 with Johnson and, later, Alex Van Pelt as starters.) Flutie was Drew Brees‘s backup in 2002.
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. Flutie was released from the Chargers on March 13, 2005.
New England 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 Maddenonce 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). This was the final nationally televised Monday Night Football game on ABC before its move to ESPN.
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. 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. There is video of Flutie describing the event in his own words.
During the 2006 offseason, 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. But 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 USFLplayer to retire, behind Sean Landeta.
Flutie has the most rushing yards (212), and the most rushing touchdowns (4), 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. On August 18, 2006, a story was published on CFL.ca examining this topic in-depth. Flutie was pondering a return to Canadian Football 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.
Flutie is the older brother of the CFL‘s third all-time receptions leader, Darren Flutie. Flutie also has an older brother, Bill Flutie and an older sister, Denise Flutie. His nephew Billy Flutie, son of Bill Flutie, was a wide receiver/punter at Boston College. Flutie is the second son of Richard and Joan Flutie. Flutie is married to his high school sweetheart, Laurie, (née Fortier). They have a daughter, Alexa, formerly a New England Patriots Cheerleader and currently a San Diego Chargers Cheerleader,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, Flutie has attended college football and basketball games at his alma mater Boston College and was a season ticket-holder. Flutie has spent his summers in Bethany Beach, Delaware, frequenting the local basketball court. Flutie 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 continues to live in Natick and was honored 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 frequents Melbourne Beach, Florida in the winter time and has a local sports field complex named after him.
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 U.S. Senate in Massachusetts for 2010, and the Flutie Brothers Band played at Brown’s victory celebration.In 2014 Flutie, who has a charity team that was running, woke up and decided to run the Boston Marathon, spur of the moment two days before the race.
Halls of Fame
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* Flutie only saw game action in 9 of the 11 games he dressed for during the 1995 season.
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