Doug Flutie was chosen as the quarterback on the Globe’s All-Time All-Scholastic football team. As part of the project, he discussed his football life with us. Responses have been edited for brevity and clarity
Q: What do you remember about the night you won the Heisman and how frantic it was getting to the ceremony in New York right after the Holy Cross game?
DF: I played like garbage, but Darren had a good game. I did a quick interview, I was whisked into a van over to the local airport. We took a private jet out to New York. We land, and they said me and one other can go on a helicopter ride over the city. And so obviously, my dad thought it was going to be him. I said, I want my wife, who at the time was my girlfriend. So Laurie and I jumped in the helicopter. We fly over to New York, we had a little extra time and they actually did a little tour of the city. The helicopter lands right across the street from the Downtown Athletic Club.
Then we jumped into a limo to go like 50 feet. They take us up to a private room. The TV show started in about a half hour, we were just barely getting there in time. We had a chance to catch our breath and eat something quick and go down. My wife looks at me, and she goes, “Would they go through all this if you weren’t going to win?”
So that was all kind of crazy once in a lifetime stuff, especially for a 22 year old kid. I got to talk to President Reagan on the phone right after the announcement. That was really cool. They want you to stay there for three or four days, and they run you into the ground doing things. I wanted to go back to campus. So the coolest thing ever was flying back late that night, and being on campus with all my buddies and classmates.
I didn’t know all this stuff, but when they were getting ready to make the announcement on the TV show you could have heard a pin drop on campus. Campus was silent, and everyone was locked into their TVs. And when the announcement was made, the whole campus erupted. One of the people I worked with at NBC was a classmate and told me that story. I was in my own world in college. I was a shy, reserved kid, and I loved playing football. I was at home on the football field. I wasn’t the most social in the world, so to know that your classmates feel that way was really cool for me.
Q: Obviously the Heisman is the peak, but you went on to win the Cotton Bowl as well. What was it like going out on top?
DF: The month after the Heisman, I was on a whirlwind tour. It was driving me into the ground. I was exhausted, I was wiped out. I thought I played very mediocre football at the Cotton Bowl, but we won pretty easily. The whole week there, for the first time, I’m doing things like taking the freight elevator down, slipping out the back door to get on the team bus, and switching hotel rooms. Every time I’d leave the hotel, I was going the back way. It was the recognition part of it that became a pain in the neck around that time. That was the height of it for me. Obviously, the Cotton Bowl was sweet for Boston College, it was sweet for me, we had lost our other two bowl games. So that was huge to win a New Year’s Day bowl back when there were New Year’s Day Bowls.
Q: What did you think of the CFL when you first got there and where did you think your career was going?
DF: My first thought was, I got labeled as a backup in the NFL, I was kind of in that position where I would just be on a roster or struggle to make a roster, and I was getting a little older. I was 28 and I want to play. So I went up to British Columbia, and I watched a couple practices, and the athleticism was through the roof. So I signed a contract with British Columbia, I figured I’d be up there for a couple of years and if things went well, I’d take another look at the NFL. I was enjoying the CFL so much, I wasn’t really looking to get back in the NFL.
But toward the end of the run, I had won back to back Grey Cups. I was 35 years old. I was thinking about retiring because it’s like there’s nowhere else to go but down and I had a deal sitting on the table with Toronto wondering whether I should re-sign. And then Buffalo called with a minimal offer. It was the same as getting that Division I offer back in high school. You realize what’s important to you and I wanted to go prove these people wrong. I told myself I’m going to go back and play four years in the NFL and show them that I can play and get the hell out.
When I went to Buffalo, my confidence was at an all-time high. I knew the things I did well. And everything worked out and then I ended up playing eight years in the NFL.
Q: You were 43 when you retired. What do you credit for your longevity?
DF: Still trying to prove myself. I was a fanatic about being in shape and all that. I wasn’t a heavy lifter, but I was crazy about conditioning and working out. In order for me to be successful at 42, 43, I had to be athletic. There was a run I had against Minnesota, it’s only a 6-yard touchdown run, but I made two guys miss and then I practically fell to the ground. That’s like my all-time favorite touchdown.
Read more about the Globe’s all-time All-Scholastic football team
- Meet the Globe’s all-time All-Scholastic football team
- Tell us your Massachusetts high school football memories
- ‘I was at home on the football field’: Doug Flutie reflects on his football career
- Pete Kendall doesn’t regret all the trash-talk he dished out, but tried to play the right way on the field
- If Mike Croel played in today’s NFL, he thinks he might be ‘ejected out of every game’
- Q&A with Pete Cronan: Football was ‘the first thing I did that people thought I was doing well’
- ‘My mother was the athlete of the family:’ Darren Flutie talks about a life centered on sports
- Art Graham explains what made him a deep-threat receiver for the Patriots
- Gosder Cherilus reflects on the life lessons learned at Boston College and the NFL
- Al Louis-Jean in his own words: Leaving BC early ‘made me into the noble man I am right now’
- Pat Hughes reflects on how he landed at Boston University, and other aspects of his football career
- What was Tom Nalen’s strategy for blocking bigger opponents? ‘Holding. It was the only way.’