Sports Outside the Beltway

Doug Flutie Retires

Doug Flutie, who is still most famous for a single play made in a college game 22 years ago, has retired from professional football at the age of 43.

Doug Flutie retired from pro football Monday, ending a 21-year career in which the Heisman Trophy winner puzzled both opposing defenses and his own coaches with his unconventional style at quarterback. The decision by the 43-year-old Flutie was announced by the New England Patriots, for whom he played five games last season.

Flutie has agreed to work as a college football analyst for ABC and ESPN. “My passion for football remains as strong as ever as I begin this new phase of life. I’m excited to see the game from the other side and look forward to utilizing my experiences to offer insightful analysis to ABC and ESPN viewers nationwide,” Flutie said in a statement.

Flutie spent 12 seasons in the NFL and also played in the USFL and the Canadian Football League. He won the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player award six times and the league’s Grey Cup championship three times. Flutie finishes with 14,715 passing yards and 86 touchdowns in the NFL, spending most of his time as a backup. Last season, he attempted just 10 passes and converted the league’s first drop kick for an extra point since the 1941 NFL title game. “If that ends up being my last play, it wouldn’t be bad,” Flutie said after the game, a mostly meaningless regular season-ending loss to the Miami Dolphins.


A resident of nearby Natick, Flutie won the 1984 Heisman Trophy at Boston College after connecting with Gerard Phelan on a desperation 48-yard touchdown pass to beat Miami as time expired. His signature play, it remains one of the most memorable in the sport. Flutie left BC as the school’s passing leader with 10,579 yards, and he remains a hero on campus; his Heisman is the centerpiece of the school’s new Hall of Fame.

He was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in the 11th round in 1985 but chose to play for the USFL’s New Jersey Generals, owned by Donald Trump. When that league failed, he joined the NFL, but his freewheeling style and short stature — the Patriots generously listed him at 5-foot-10 — were a poor fit for its conservative schemes. He played five games for Chicago the next two seasons and 17 for New England from 1987-89.

Only in the CFL, with its wide-open game, did he truly find success, throwing for 41,355 yards and 270 touchdowns in eight seasons with British Columbia, Calgary and Toronto. He joined Buffalo in 1998 and played more regularly — 39 games over three years. He started all 16 games for San Diego in 2001 then spent the next three years as backup to Drew Brees. Last April, he signed with the hometown Patriots for a second time and played sparingly, making his biggest splash on special teams with his drop kick.

Even at his advanced (for a professional athlete) age, he could likely have stayed on another several years as a backup. After all, he has pretty low mileage on him. At some point, though, it’s time to move on.

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