SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME: Courage, Tenacity Defined Doug Flutie’s Career
By Space Coast Daily // June 9, 2021
SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME SPOTLIGHT
ABOVE VIDEO: Doug Flutie won the Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award and the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award in college, won Pro Bowl and NFL Comeback Player of the Year honors and was voted the best CFL player of all time.
DOUG FLUTIE – 2014 INDUCTEE
• Heisman Trophy Winner
• Best CFL Player of All Time
• NFL Pro Bowl Player
NCAA’s ALL TIME PASSER
Who would have thought that the gifted athlete that led his Hoover Middle School football team to two Brevard County Championships in the mid-70s would go on to a brilliant college and professional football career and become a sports icon in two countries?
Doug Flutie thought it, and it happened because he believed in himself every step of the way.
Flutie’s family moved to Melbourne Beach in 1968 when he was 6 years old.
His father, Richard, worked as an engineer in the aerospace industry, but after the dramatic slow-down of the space program in the mid-1970s, the Flutie family moved to Natick, Massachusetts in 1976.
Flutie graduated from Natick High School and was an All-League performer in football, basketball, and baseball for the Redmen, but the only Division 1-A college to recruit him was Boston College.
His decision to attend Boston College (BC) proved to be an incredible windfall for BC’s football program and the reputation of the college.
A BC Eagle from 1981 to 1984, Flutie won the Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award and the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award in his senior year of 1984.
AMONG GREATEST MOMENTS IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL HISTORY
Proving his “expert” detractors, who thought because of his size at 5’10’’ he wouldn’t make a Division 1-A quarterback, wrong, he left school as the NCAA’s all-time passing yardage leader with 10,579 yards, was a consensus All-American as a senior, and earned Player of the Year awards from UPI, Kodak, The Sporting News, and the Maxwell Football Club.
One of the greatest moments in college football and American sports history was his “Hail Mary” touchdown pass in a game against Miami on November 23, 1984.
The play personified Flutie’s courage, tenacity and intuitive command of the game that defined his ability and commitment to win throughout his career.
He was honored by his alma mater with a statue outside of BC’s Alumni Stadium of him throwing the famous “Hail Mary” pass, and the BC football program retired his uniform number 22.
In addition to his illustrious athletic career, Flutie maintained a distinguished academic record at Boston College, graduating with degrees in communications and computer science, and was a candidate for a Rhodes Scholarship, for which he was named a finalist in 1984.
Upon graduating, Flutie also won a National Football Foundation post-graduate scholarship.
Although there were again skeptics who predicted Flutie didn’t have the tools to be a successful professional quarterback, in early 1985, a time when the National Football League was vying for college talent with the struggling United States Football League, Donald Trump, owner of the USFL New Jersey Generals, made Flutie an offer he couldn’t refuse.
Flutie agreed to 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.
Having already signed with the Generals, Flutie was not selected in the NFL Draft until the 11th round, 285th overall pick by the Los Angeles Rams.
In comparison to his collegiate career, Flutie’s rookie season with the Generals was mediocre. When the USFL folded in 1986 he signed with the NFL’s Chicago Bears, and later played for the New England Patriots, becoming their starting quarterback in 1988.
It was in the wide-open Canadian Football League (CFL) that Flutie, with his gun-slinging style and intuitive will to win, hit his professional stride. He signed with the British Columbia Lions in 1990, and in 1991, threw for a record 6,619 yards.
In his 8 seasons in the CFL, he also played for the Calgary Stampede and the Toronto Argonauts, received the CFL Most Outstanding Player Award a record six times, was a six-time CFL All-Star, and was named the MVP in all three of his Grey Cup (Canada’s Super Bowl) 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, retiring at age 43.
In 2006, he was voted the best CFL player of all time by The Sports Network (TSN), and in 2007 was named to the College Football Hall of Fame and Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.
Following his playing career, Flutie has served as a color analyst and in-studio analyst for ABC, ESPN College Football and NBC, as well as traveling the country as a high-demand speaker.
Doug and his family are back as residents of Brevard County, living beachside in south County after residing for more than 37 years in the greater Boston area.
Flutie was named a 2010 Central Florida Humanitarian by Space Coast Medicine & Active Living magazine for his work with the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism, named after his son Dougie, who was diagnosed with autism at age three.
Doug and his wife Laurie started raising funds for autism in 1998, established the foundation in 2000 and have helped raise more than $14 million for autism.
The outstanding professionals and programs at the Florida Institute of Technology’s Scott Center for Autism were instrumental in the Flutie’s decision to move back to the Space Coast.
As keynote speaker at the second annual Florida Tech “Inside the Huddle” banquet in 2013, Flutie thanked his wife Laurie for believing in him during their 35-year relationship, told the crowd about how well Dougie is doing at FIT’s Scott Center For Autism, and then said he was now a Panther fan because of Dougie’s involvement at FIT, and looked forward to attending many Tech athletic contests.
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