Volume 91, Issue 44

Friday, November 14, 1997

calling wood



Good-bye Mr. Flutie

With only a few days left until the Grey Cup, Doug Flutie, one of the greatest football players ever to cross the 49th parallel, may be preparing to play in his last game in the Canadian Football League.

A superstar in a league that is surviving on a day-to-day basis, Flutie has once again led his team to the pinnacle of sport in winning his sixth CFL most outstanding player award last night.

In only his eighth year in the CFL, Flutie has amassed 35,850 passing yards, placing himself fourth on the league's all-time list, with the top position only two or three seasons away. What is more incredible is the leader, Ron Lancaster, took 19 seasons to set the precedent (50,535) to which Flutie can easily reach. The question isn't about ability, but rather, if Flutie will stick around to break it.

With two championship rings and enough hardware to fill a dozen mantelpieces, Flutie has little more to prove in Canada's second-rate league. Now may be the time for Flutie to take another shot at stardom at a higher level of play with strong interest coming from several National Football League teams.

Flutie, a native of Manchester, Maryland, played for Boston College, where he won the Heisman Trophy in his senior year. His infamous "hail mary" pass against Miami still rates as one of the greatest plays in American sports history; unfortunately, that would be the last time he'd stand in his native country's spotlight.

For the next five years, Flutie bounced from the Los Angles Rams to the Chicago Bears to the New England Patriots being told he was too short to be a serious threat at every stop. In 1990, he headed north to find a home in the CFL.

With New Orleans Saints head coach Mike Ditka, a former coach of Flutie's in Chicago, leading the public inquiries into his services, Flutie now has a chance to return to his home nation.

His history of making an immediate impact with a team is legendary in the CFL. In his third full season in the CFL, Flutie moved to the Calgary Stampeders and led them to a Grey Cup Championship, leaving behind a B.C. Lions' club that would sink from an 11-7 record to 3-15.

Again in 1995, Flutie moved, this time to his current team, the Toronto Argonauts and quickly transformed the team from worst in the division to a franchise record 15 wins and another Grey Cup championship.

Flutie's ability to make an impact has been recognized with serious scouting from the south, many of which will be attending Sunday's Grey Cup game. With intense interest and dollar signs flowing from several NFL teams, Flutie must be considering a chance to return home to finish his career.

Currently finishing a two-year, $2.2 million contract under the since-repealed marquee player designation, Flutie will need to take a formidable cut in pay if he wishes to return to a league that only allows teams to spend $2.5 million on its entire roster. No team in Canada can afford the green that American teams will be flaunting before his eyes.

The media has spent the past week discussing the issue as the Grey Cup nears, but Flutie has responded by stating the day-to-day lifestyle of Toronto is relaxing, his family is only an hour away and he likes playing in a system that allows him to make his own calls.

With a shot at a national title only days away, would any individual say something against the grain and threaten a season of hard work by both himself and his teammates? I think not.

However, at the age of 35, it will be his last shot at once again grabbing the American spotlight he left behind more then a decade ago and chances are he will take it. Good-bye Mr. Flutie, thanks for the memories.

To Contact The Sports Department: gazsport@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1997