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Pent-up frustrations

Bills QB Johnson is critical of Flutie in magazine

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Latest: Wednesday August 23, 2000 04:06 PM

  Rob Johnson Rob Johnson won the starting job in Buffalo back in January. Andy Lyons/Allsport

ORCHARD PARK N.Y. (AP) -- Buffalo Bills head coach Wade Phillips on Wednesday tried to downplay the latest tension between his quarterbacks after Doug Flutie said he could have won a playoff game if he played and Rob Johnson said his backup insulted the team.

Penthouse in issues on newsstands Tuesday printed an interview of Johnson six months ago in which he responded to some sour comments made by Flutie following the Bills' 22-16 playoff loss to the Tennessee Titans.

Flutie was demoted to backup quarterback five days before that game, and during an interview a few weeks later with Canadian sports network TSN, said Buffalo would have won the game if he were at quarterback.

"I honestly believe that if I would have been playing, we could have, would have, won," Flutie told the network. "It probably was the most frustrating, most miserable week I've ever spent in football. It was hard to understand and difficult to deal with."

"No, I haven't read Penthouse," Phillips joked Wednesday. "I haven't read the article yet. I've been looking for it."

On Tuesday, Phillips said any problems between Johnson and Flutie doesn't affect the team -- and won't.

"A professional relationship is what I'm looking for from all players at all positions, and [that] they help each other on the field," the coach said. "That's never been a problem and it never will be."

To The Rescue
QBs with the fewest regular-season attempts
to start team's first postseason game (1970-99)
Player  Date vs.  Att. 
R. Johnson, Buf.  1-8-00 vs. Tenn. (L)  34 
T. Marinovich, LARai  12-28-91, K.C. (L)  40 
D. Flutie, Chi.  1-3-87, Was. (L)  46 
F. Reich, Buf.  1-3-93, Hou. (W)  47 
R. Jaworski, LARam  12-27-75, StL (W)  48 
P. Ryan, NYJ  12-28-86, K.C. (W)  55 
C. Carlson, Hou.  1-6-91, Cin. (L)  55 
B. Lee, Min.  12-26-77, LARam (W)  72 
S. Zolak, N.E.  1-3-99, Jac. (L)  75 
S. Fuller, Chi.  12-30-84, Was. (W)  78 

During the Penthouse interview, the magazine asked Johnson: "How did you feel when Doug Flutie said the Bills would have beaten Tennessee if he'd started at quarterback instead of you?"

Johnson responded: "If he was covering kicks, maybe [laughs] ...maybe he could have been out there on that final play," he said. "I think that [what Flutie said] was more of an insult to the entire team. That's just the type of guy Doug is. He's not much fun to play with -- you just have to deal with it."

Following Tuesday's practice, Johnson told reporters he was joking about Flutie covering the kick. And he backed away from the comment about Flutie not being much fun to play with, saying, "I said that week it wasn't much fun because he obviously wasn't in a very good mood. He was doing a lot of complaining and it wasn't good for the team. That week, I did say he wasn't very pleasant to work with."

Johnson did however stand by his statement that Flutie's remarks were an insult to the team.

"It was insulting to me personally, but as a team you have to feel that there are 21 other guys out there making plays," Johnson said. "We're a unit. We're 53 guys. To say one guy would have made the difference? That's what I meant."

There has been friction between the two men during much of the last three seasons, as they battled for the starting quarterback job, but Johnson said the conflict has been exaggerated.

"If it was that bad -- I mean, we're around each other eight or 10 hours a day -- something else would have happened by now if we hated each other that much," Johnson told the Buffalo News. "It was just a situation last year."

Andre Reed criticized Flutie on his Web site around the time of Reed's departure and other players are rumored to have privately criticized Flutie promoting himself at the expense of the team.

Johnson was named the starting quarterback this season and Flutie is recovering from a torn groin muscle. Flutie was unavailable for comment Tuesday and Wednesday.

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Stories's 2000 NFL Preview
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