But what if, say, a run-and-shoot team became interested? John Hufnagel, the former Penn State quarterback who coaches the Calgary offense, says Flutie's best attribute is his ability to think on the go, to make the quick reads and adjustments. Wouldn't he be perfect for the run-and-shoot?
"Well, maybe," Flutie said, "but it would have to be a run-and-shoot team that needed a quarterback. I don't want to sit on the bench again. Besides, I like it up here in Calgary, the day-to-day life for me and Laurie and our two kids. I'm feeling good about it. We never were big-city people."
Still, the hokeyness is inescapable at times. "My first season , when I was with British Columbia," Flutie said, "we played a road game in Hamilton. A 29,000-seat stadium, with about 12,000 people in the stands. It looked like the old Alumni Field at BC. I just shook my head. What the heck am I doing here?"
Last March the Stampeders' 37-year-old owner, Larry Ryckman, put together a deal for Flutie, who had played out his option at British Columbia. THE MAGIC FLUTIE read the headline in The Calgary Sun. Right alongside it, on top of the lead sports page, was an ad for County Line country bar, which listed among its features "Porky's, hooters, beer store, liquor store, bring this ad in and receive a single room at $26.95."
"Our goal," said Ryckman when he signed Flutie, "is to fill the stands [capacity at McMahon Stadium is 38,200] and to win the Grey Cup." One out of two ain't bad. The stands were filled just once this season—on Labor Day. On Oct. 4, when the Stampeders beat Ottawa and Flutie broke the team's 25-year-old record for single-season passing yardage, the smallest crowd of the year, 20,207, was on hand for the game.
The city of Toronto was underwhelmed by the 1992 Grey Cup, and more than 6,000 tickets went unsold. Before the game you could buy seats at cost, below cost or "whatever you want to give me," as one poor chap who was holding up a pair said. The Winnipeg Free Press did a survey the week of the game, asking 50 Toronto businessmen if they knew which teams were playing. Twenty-nine didn't know. Even a great old Calgary tradition—the horse in the hotel lobby—ended when the Royal York barred its doors to some Stampeder fans and their mounts. "Our carpet is brand-new," said the manager, Johann Isopp.
Financial worries have the CFL brass considering such daffy ideas as expanding to San Antonio, Sacramento or Albuquerque. Picture it. Albuquerque versus San Antonio, as all Canada holds its breath. But maybe, just maybe, if Flutie keeps cranking out those 400-yard games, he can be the marquee player who helps the league right itself.