Friday, April 28, 2017

Small But Mighty: Doug Flutie's Legacy in Pro Football

Fun Fact: Doug Flutie, my fav. QB of all time (except for Drew Brees), was only 5'9", yet while only playing for the CFL for 8 seasons, he tore shit up there like you wouldn't believe. He is only one of two players (last I checked) to ever pass for over 6000 yds. (yes 6000), in ANY form of "American Style" football, in any league. And he did it not once, but twice, coming close a third time.

In fact, in 8 years in the CFL, he threw for over 41,000 yards, and rushed for over 4600. He was a monster. He threw 270 passing TDs, and rushed for 66 (yes, 66) rushing TDs. That is insane, by any standards. He also, unsurprisingly, won the CFL's "Most Outstanding Player" award (basically their league MVP), 6 times, and won 3 Grey Cup championships with 2 different teams, the Calgary Stampeders and the Toronto Argonauts.

That's the entire reason he even got a second chance in the NFL, being signed by the Buffalo Bills in 1998, leading them to the playoffs and becoming the 1998 NFL Comeback Player of the Year, and a 1998 Pro Bowl selection. He had been in the NFL in the 80s, even started a bit, but was never given a fair shot because of his size. ALL he had to do to get a second chance in the NFL, was basically be THE most amazing QB in CFL history, ONE of the most amazing in football history period.

Quite frankly, Flutie could have and should have been a long-time starter for the Bills, and even a Super Bowl champion, but even with all he had accomplished, and even with him leading the Bills to back to back playoff berths in 98 and 99, it STILL wasn't enough for idiot NFL coaches, GMs and Owners, specifically the Bills' in this case, to get over the stigma of the "short QB". Instead, they wanted to go with Rob Johnson, a prototypical tall "canon arm" QB that the NFL covets, and who subsequently went on to do exactly jack shit in his NFL career. He also helped cost the red-hot Bills, whom Flutie had GOTTEN to the playoffs, by losing in the playoffs to the eventual AFC Champion Titans. Nothing is ever certain or guaranteed, but just imagine, if Flutie had been allowed to finish what he started that year, it might've been the Bills and Flutie Magic, versus the "Greatest Show on Turf" in that Super Bowl. Remember, the Rams barely beat the Titans in that game, even with all of their offensive firepower.

Doug Flutie is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the best "American Style" football players in the history of the sport. He is, deservingly, enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame, the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, and the Canada's Sports Hall of Fame. But he'll never be in the NFL Hall of Fame, sadly, because he didn't do enough in his NFL career, to MERIT getting in. He was never truly given a chance, due mainly to his size and little else, to shine for long enough in the NFL, to have a notable career within it. Which is crazy, considering he's one of the best College and CFL quarterbacks of all time. And no, that's not the NFL, but let's be honest, a guy who could be THAT great in the CFL, surely could have been at LEAST very good (hint: he was with the Bills) in the NFL.

I wish he had, because he's a stand up guy, and a hell of a player. The thing Flutie had going for him, whether it was throwing that famous "Hail Mary" play for Boston College, or dominating like a football god in the CFL, beyond his obvious athleticism or skill, was heart. The dude never gave up on a play, and despite his size, often found ways to keep plays going, or make "something out of nothing". That's why pundits briefly dubbed his time with Buffalo as "Flutie Magic". But, while he sadly didn't get to have much of his OWN career in the NFL, the one legacy he CAN claim, though it certainly took time, and is STILL something of an issue to this day, was chipping away at the misconception that "short QBs can't succeed in the NFL".

Tell that to Jeff Garcia (6'1"), a former CFL QB himself, and a 4x Pro Bowler who led three different teams to the playoffs throughout his career. Or Russel Wilson (5'11"), a 3x Pro Bowler who went to back-to-back Super Bowls, winning one and barely losing the other (against two of the greatest NFL QBs of all time). Or Drew Brees (6'0"), a 10x Pro Bowler, Super Bowl MVP and Champion (against Peyton Manning), and the ONLY player in NFL history to throw for 5000+ yds. in a season more than once. In fact, he's done it 5 times now. That's no 6000 yds. in a season, but it's STILL insane, and pretty unbelievable.

Those guys likely wouldn't have ever gotten a shot to start in the NFL, if it wasn't for Flutie, albeit all too briefly, showing that a "short" QB COULD succeed in the NFL in the late 90s. 

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