Chargers quarterback Doug Flutie
versus the Patriots and their fans
"I'm the local boy," says Flutie, who loves Massachusetts and knows his former neighbors feel the same way about him. "I'm one of them." He returns to New England piloting the 3-1 Chargers in a venue, Foxboro Stadium, where he has lost but once in eight NFL starts. "There's been a connection there for 20 years, going back to Boston College and continuing because I played for the Patriots," he says. Flutie's most memorable Foxboro moment: After being dealt from Chicago to New England in 1987, he started against the fearsome Bears' defense on Oct. 30,1988. His first pass was an 80-yard touchdown to wideout Irving Fryar. He threw for three more scores in a 30-7 Patriots win. "I loved looking across the field and seeing Coach Ditka get on the Chicago quarterbacks," Flutie recalls.
With San Francisco quarterback Jeff Garcia (left)
SI: Overcoming stereotypes.
Garcia: At 6'1" and 190 pounds, I've been labeled as a small quarterback with a weak arm ever since I came out of San Jose State [in 1994]. I had to go to Canada because of it. I think I've proved that my arm's good enough to make every throw in the NFL.
SI: Canadian Football League.
Garcia: I wouldn't be the player I am today without the five years I spent in Calgary. I remember in '95 when Doug [Flutie] hurt his elbow and I had to play against Edmonton. Packed house in Calgary, 37,000 people who had no idea who I was. I threw for 546 yards and six touchdowns.
SI: Best asset.
Garcia: The ability to throw on the run.
SI: Joe Montana.
Garcia: The greatest quarterback ever to play the game.
SI: Steve Young.
Garcia: Showed that a great athlete can be a great quarterback.
SI: Jerry Rice.
Garcia: In college I was at a bar one night and Jerry was in there. I was a sophomore. I guess I was feeling a bit confident. So I went up to him and said, "Someday I'm going to be throwing passes to you." He was like, O.K., whatever.
SI: Football goal.
Garcia: Winning a sixth ring for the 49ers.