When you hear the phrase “once in a generation athlete,” you often think of someone who is bigger, faster and stronger than their competition. While that is mostly true, that was not the case for Doug Flutie, the 5-foot-10 quarterback out of Boston College.
Whether you know him for his famous “hail mary,” his days in the NFL, or from seeing his face on a box of Flutie Flakes, if you’re a true football fan, you know who Doug Flutie is.
He’s been out of the spotlight for a while, so let’s check in on Doug Flutie and see what he is up to today.
Early life and introduction to football
Flutie, along with his three siblings, was born in Maryland, but his dad’s job as an aerospace engineer relocated the family down to Florida. While in Florida, Flutie found a love for sports, especially football. As a star quarterback, he led his junior high school to two county championships. After his dad went through a career change, the Flutie’s moved back north, this time to Natick, Massachusetts.
While in high school, Flutie played football, basketball and baseball. He was a star athlete and an excellent student. He was what some would call a “golden child”. Although he was an All-League performer in all three sports, his height prevented him from getting much attention from Division 1 athletic programs. Flutie’s hopes of playing Division 1 football weren’t looking good until Boston College offered him its final scholarship. If it weren’t for two BC commits flipping to other schools, Flutie might have never received an offer. Although basketball was his favorite sport, Flutie committed to Boston College, and the rest is history.
Doug Flutie’s Boston College days
Flutie arrived on Boston College’s campus in 1981. He was listed as the team’s fourth string quarterback when the season began. He rode the bench for the Eagles’ first three games and finally got his shot in a game against Penn State. Boston College was down 38-0 when its first-string QB went down with an injury. Although he wasn’t the backup, Flutie’s name was called, and he didn’t waste his opportunity. In the final 15 minutes of the game, Flutie threw for 135 yards, including a 23-yard touchdown.
Boston College coach Jack Bicknell must have liked what he saw, because Flutie became the team’s new starting QB. Who would have thought that a garbage time touchdown would be the start of one of the greatest stories in football history?
Flutie went on to throw for 10 passing touchdowns and ran for two touchdowns as well. Although Boston College finished with a 5-6 record, it appeared that the Eagles had a star QB in the making.
Boston College becomes Flutie’s team
In his sophomore season, Flutie threw for 13 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. He was the third leading rusher for Boston College and led the Eagles to a much-improved 8-3-1 record. Boston College reached the Tangerine Bowl that year, but unfortunately lost to Auburn 33-26.
Flutie’s junior season is when things started to really look up for the QB. He threw for more yards, more touchdowns and fewer interceptions than the previous season, and improved BC’s record to 9-3. One of the most-notable wins of the season came against Penn State, who had beaten the Eagles 52-17 the previous year. In addition to beating the Nittany Lions, Flutie also led Boston College to victories over 12th ranked West Virginia and 13th ranked Alabama. BC once again reached a bowl game, but lost to Notre Dame.
Rise to national stardom
Flutie entered his senior season in the national spotlight. He was loved by his coaches and was a perfect role model for his teammates. When asked about Flutie, BC’s running backs coach Mike Godbolt said that “He practices the way he plays. He gets just as excited throwing a touchdown in scrimmage as he does in a big game. His excitement rubs off on the whole team.” He added that “people look up to him, not only because of his athletic success, but because he is a great human being.”
Because of the way he plays and his height (or lack thereof), Flutie was the subject of a ton of attention from the media. Although he was doing hours of interviews a week, Doug Flutie never let fame get in the way of succeeding on the field. While many wondered if Flutie was too small to play QB in the NFL, former Penn State coach Joe Paterno completely disagreed, telling The Morning Call “If the pros don’t take him, they’re crazy, you don’t have to be 6-3 to be a pro quarterback.” Flutie doesn’t throw over people. He finds a crack and throws between them.”
The Hail Mary and winning the Heisman Trophy
In Flutie’s senior season, Boston College got off to a 7-2 start. In what appeared to be a perfect storm, Flutie and the Eagles were set to face the Miami Hurricanes on national television the day after Thanksgiving. Whether Flutie knew it or not, his life was about to change forever.
The Miami vs. Boston College game was everything fans could ask for. The Hurricanes took a 45-41 lead in the final minute, leaving Flutie and the Eagles with just 28 seconds to score a touchdown. Two plays and 22 seconds later, BC found itself just across the 50 yard line. With enough time for one more play, Flutie dropped back and chucked the ball as far as he could, and to the surprise of millions watching, the ball was caught by Gerard Phelan, and Boston College won the game.
Flutie’s hail mary pass to Gerard Phelan is one of, if not the most famous plays in college football history. It’s one of those moments in sports that you remember where you were when you were watching it. A week later, Doug Flutie won the Heisman Trophy. During the NFL Network’s A Football Life on Flutie, the former QB said that “without the Hail Mary pass I think I could have been very easily forgotten.”
Despite his electric college football career, NFL teams were still concerned with Flutie’s size. Prior to the NFL Draft, Flutie was selected by the New Jersey Generals in the USFL’s Territorial Draft. Flutie signed a deal worth $7 million over five years and became the highest paid player in professional football. Because he already signed a deal, he wasn’t picked until the 11th round of the NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Rams.
Despite the hype, Flutie’s USFL career got off to a terrible start. In his debut, the QB’s first two passes were intercepted, and he completed fewer than half of his throws. Flutie played 15 games before being sidelined for the final three games with an injury. Although the Generals finished with an 11-7 record, Flutie’s rookie season was underwhelming. After many of the teams disbanded, the USFL went under, and Flutie was on to the NFL.
A fun fact about Doug Flutie’s USFL days is that he was teammates with the great Herschel Walker.
Doug Flutie’s first time in the NFL
Because the Rams picked him in the 1985 NFL Draft, they owned the rights to Flutie. Prior to the 1986 NFL season, the Rams traded Flutie to the Chicago Bears. He appeared in four games for Chicago, in which he threw for three touchdowns and rushed for two. He even won the one game he was named the starter for.
In 1987, as the majority of NFL players opted to go on strike, Flutie was traded to the New England Patriots. During this season, the NFL played games with “replacement players.” Eager to get back on the field, Flutie was one of the first players to individually cross the picket line. During that season with the Patriots, Flutie won the only game he started, throwing for a touchdown and with no interceptions.
Flutie played for the Patriots for two more seasons before heading to the Canadian Football League.
Doug Flutie in the CFL
Casual football fans may not know this, but Flutie is recognized as one of the best CFL players of all time. He played for three different teams and broke just about every record possible.
In his eight seasons in the CFL, Flutie won three Grey Cups (the CFL equivalent to a Super Bowl), taking home the MVP award in each of those games, and was named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player six times, a league record. He led the CFL in passing yards in five of his eight seasons, and holds the single season record for most passing touchdowns with 48.
Doug Flutie’s return to the NFL
Flutie’s return to the NFL is worthy of being made into a movie script. The Buffalo Bills picked him up in the 1998 offseason to serve as a backup. Flutie sat on the bench for the first four weeks of the season until an injury to QB Rob Johnson gave him the chance to play.
In his debut, Flutie lead a fourth quarter comeback, scoring the game-winning touchdown. Flutie’s record as a starter in his first season back was 8-3, he was named the NFL’s Comeback Player Of The Year and even made his first and only Pro Bowl.
He led the Bills to the playoffs in 1999, but the team opted to play Rob Johnson in the team’s playoff game. The Bills lost the game on a Titans game-winning kick return for a touchdown, a now-legendary NFL play known as the “Music City Miracle.”
The following season, Flutie was moved to the bench, but still started five games due to Rob Johnson’s inability to stay healthy.
Later years in the NFL
Flutie left Buffalo to play for the San Diego Chargers in 2001. He had success here and there, but one of his best moments in a Chargers uniform came during a revenge game against the Bills. Not only did he beat his former team, but he outplayed Rob Johnson, the quarterback the coaching staff chose over him.
Following his time in San Diego, Flutie ended up back in New England for one final year in 2005, serving as the backup to Tom Brady.
Doug Flutie’s dropkick
In the Patriots’ final regular season game, Bill Belichick sent Doug Flutie onto the field to attempt a dropkick, something that hadn’t been done in an NFL regular season game since 1941. Flutie’s attempt was good, and he was named the AFC Special Teams Player Of The Week. That offseason, at the age of 43, Flutie retired.
Doug Flutie today and Doug Flutie’s Maximum Football
Since leaving the NFL, Flutie has kept himself relatively busy. He calls Notre Dame football games, competed on Dancing With The Stars and even has a video game, Doug Flutie’s Maximum Football, named after him. In addition to his athletic accomplishments, Flutie also plays the drums in The Flutie Brothers Band.
In 2007, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, and a year later, he received the honor from the Canadian Football Hall of Fame. He also became the first non-Canadian inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2007.
In February 2021, Flutie may have had his most unexpected moment yet. During a celebrity football game, Flutie pinned WWE wrestler R-Truth to claim the WWE’s 24/7 Championship belt. The 24/7 belt is a title that can be won by anyone at anytime, as long as a WWE referee is present. Flutie didn’t hold onto the title very long as he was quickly pinned by R-Truth.
— WWE (@WWE) February 6, 2021
In addition to calling college football games for NBC, Flutie has his own podcast called the Flutie Flakescast, a show where he talks about everything from football to music to surfing. You can catch episodes every Wednesday on just about every podcast platform.
Although Flutie is out of the league, don’t be surprised if he has another magical moment hidden up his sleeve.