After The Pass, Flutie The Star shines in CFL

October 18, 1993|By Colin Stephenson | Colin Stephenson,New York Daily News

CALGARY, Alberta -- Ten years after The Pass, Doug Flutie is alive and well, and impressing the heck out of them in Canada.

Flutie, the mini-quarterback from Boston College who couldn't make it big in the NFL, has had a full career since the pass to Gerald Phelan that beat Miami's powerful '83 team in the final second.

Today, the Calgary Stampeders' million-dollar man only thinks about that pass when people bring it up.

"It was nice that it happened because it does give people something to remember you by," he said.

Today, Flutie's Stamps are 13-1, having clinched first place overall in the CFL with four games to play.

Flutie leads the league in passing yards (4,921), completions (341), touchdowns (34), QB rating (99.5) and is second in passing attempts (573) and rushing touchdowns (8).

Flutie, who will turn 31 on Saturday, is the biggest star in the CFL -- bigger than Rocket Ismail was. But in the United States, he is still best remembered for that one pass. Never mind all the other things he accomplished at Boston -- winning the Heisman

Trophy, passing for 10,000 yards, reviving the football program by leading it to three straight bowl games after the school had gone nearly 40 years without any postseason football -- Flutie was the one who heaved that ball on the last play of the game.

NFL people classified Flutie as a great college player, but at 5-9 3/4 , too short to be a pro quarterback. He'd never see over the offensive line, for crying out loud. That's why, after a rather undistinguished career with the New Jersey Generals of the USFL, the Chicago Bears and New England Patriots, Flutie migrated to Canada in 1990.

"I was a Plan B free agent in New England," he said. "I had been basically labeled as a backup in the NFL, and I was tired of sitting around, waiting for an opportunity.

"So rather than going to another NFL team, and hear the height thing the rest of my life, I decided to get on the field and play, and there was a good opportunity in British Columbia."

Flutie played two seasons for the British Columbia Lions, where he became a legitimate star. In 1991, his second season with the Lions, Flutie set three CFL records and seven team passing marks.

As a free agent in 1992 -- there is total free agency in the CFL -- he signed a four-year deal with Calgary for a reported $1.25 million a year. Stampeders owner Larry Ryckman signed Flutie to a personal services contract to keep his salary outside of the team's CFL-mandated $2.5 million cap.

Flutie, in turn, led Calgary to the Grey Cup. He completed 33 of 49 passes for 480 yards and two touchdowns in Calgary's 24-10 victory over Winnipeg and was named the game's MVP.

All of this is nice, of course, except, like Canadian money, it isn't worth much south of the border. Detractors say the CFL game, with its bigger field (110-by-55 yards, with 25-yard end zones), 12-man teams, and 20-second play clock is perfect for a scrambling quarterback.

Flutie acknowledges this, saying the Canadian game "allows me to be an athlete, as well as a guy who throws the ball." But he argues it's a more entertaining game, too, and not necessarily an inferior one.

NTC "It's just a different style game," he said. "There are guys that play in the NFL I know couldn't touch the field here, because they don't have the endurance, the speed, the quickness.

"There are some big old offensive and defensive linemen in the NFL that could never play this game. Plus, talentwise, I have receivers here that are as talented, if not more talented, than I had in New England."

"I'll play out my contract here, which is this year and two more, and then play it by ear from there," he said.

Flutie's biggest priority now, he said, is his daughter, Alexa, who is in kindergarten and starts first grade next year. He would prefer she start in the United States, but he said he won't be moving back and forth between Canada and the United States.

"I'm very happy, very content, and thoroughly enjoy my life here," said, admitting he burns watching certain NFL quarterbacks on television.

"It's very frustrating to watch those games, but my day-to-day life is a lot more pleasant. I'm a lot more in control here. It's a situation where you throw the ball a lot more, and when I'm on the field, I feel in control. I'm not doing what some coach wants me to do all the time. I don't call the plays. John Hufnagel, our offensive coordinator, is an excellent coach and prepares better than I would have the time for, so I just let him call it, and then I have the freedom to change things. When we get into the two-minute offense and some other situations, I just take it and go."

It's what he always did best.

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