Yeah, but who can do it these days?
"I can," says Flutie. "Rich Camarillo, who used to punt for us, and I used to practice them. He could drop-kick it 60 yards. Find a guy who can do it and put him in as a wide receiver."
Do you wonder why the guy became a legend in the Boston area? Two-handed push passes, lefty tosses, completions that materialized out of nowhere—the fans couldn't get enough of him. And that's part of the problem. The hard-eyed world of pro football does not take kindly to schoolboy legends.
After BC, he joined the USFL New Jersey Generals and, on owner Donald Trump's orders, became an immediate starter. When the league folded, he joined the Bears for the '86 season. Jim McMahon was injured for much of the year, and Flutie got to start the last game of the regular season. He led Chicago over Dallas but was ineffective in a first-round playoff loss to the Washington Redskins. McMahon wasn't kind. " America's midget," he called Flutie.
The Patriots got him in a trade last season as the strike was winding down. He started the final strike game, which some people have never let him forget. "If the strike had just started, I would never have crossed the line—never," he says. "But everyone knew it was ending. A lot of guys had already crossed. The paycheck wasn't the issue. It was a chance to get back into football."
If Tony Eason's arm had been right, Flutie might not have made the Patriots this year. Steve Grogan would have been the backup, and Flutie would have battled Ramsey for the third and last spot. But Eason went on injured reserve in the preseason, and Grogan, who had been hampered by a neck injury, was replaced by Ramsey in Game 5, against the Indianapolis Colts. Flutie came in for an ineffective Ramsey early in the fourth quarter. He engineered two drives to pull out the win, completing four of four passes on the first and six of six on the second. He scored the game-winner on a 13-yard bootleg.
When the Patriots defeated the Bengals, mainly on the strength of a solid running game and six Cincinnati turnovers, the headline in the Boston Herald read FLUTIE FLAUNTS IT FOR PATS. YOU had to go down to paragraph 22 to find the only mention of Flutie. The story line in New England's 30-7 upset of Chicago was Flutie's revenge: He threw four TD passes against his old team. Almost lost was the fact that the Patriots ran 54 times for 185 yards—unheard-of statistics against the Bears' defense.
"It's hard for people to accept that I'm just another guy on the team, trying to do my best to help us win," said Flutie after Sunday's 21-10 victory over the Miami Dolphins, in which he converted seven of 14 passes for 74 yards while the ground game piled up 203 yards. "Even in college I didn't get carried away with all that stuff. We had great players on that team my senior year. Something like 10 guys I played with on offense wound up in the NFL."
Over the past four games the Pats have had only two turnovers. In the six before that they had 23. Rookie halfback John Stephens, of Northwestern State of Louisiana, has been superb. Flutie has been going along with the surge, occasionally embarrassed by the media attention he receives, never claiming to be anything but a guy trying to prove that he belongs with the big boys.
But somewhere down the stretch, when things aren't going right, it will be time for something special, and maybe the old Flutie devilment will reappear. So far he has proved he belongs.