Ex-Calgary QBs in the spotlight / Calgary QBs to reunite in San Diego
August 09, 2001 - Kevin Lynch - SFGate Chronicle
To most of us, it's just an obscure exhibition game. But for our northern neighbor, the 49ers-Chargers matchup Saturday night in San Diego is much more than that.
The pride of the Calgary Stampeders will be on display in this game. Teams in the NFL would have a hard time matching the succession of Stampeder quarterbacks. It began with current San Diego starter Doug Flutie, then continued with 49ers starter Jeff Garcia, and then was passed to last year's CFL Most Outstanding Player, Dave Dickenson, who is trying to make the Chargers as a second or third quarterback.
"We might have to play, 'O Canada' before the game starts,' " 49ers coach Steve Mariucci quipped.
When Garcia was asked about the Calgary connection, the redhead lit up with a broad smile and expansive answers despite yesterday's triple-digit heat following practice at the University of the Pacific. "When we do see each other, we are thrilled for each other," said Garcia, who expects plenty of group shots with Flutie and Dickenson for the Canadian media Saturday night.
"I think this game will get a lot of coverage in Canada, especially in Calgary," said Garcia, who still owns a home there.
The Stampeders don't stop at these three. Former Calgary quarterback Henry Burris is trying to crack the Packers' roster this summer as a rookie free agent.
It's hard to explain why Calgary has been such a bastion of quarterbacking excellence. One reason is the Stampeders' pro scouts in the United States, who scour colleges for atypical quarterbacks who don't attract NFL interest.
"If people look at the quarterback play on the field, I think you'll see a different type of quarterback than the normal NFL quarterback," Garcia said with pride. "We're not the 6-4, 225 pound quarterbacks. We're the borderline 6- footers, 190 pounds, just trying to make things happen."
Garcia, Flutie and Dickenson are about those dimensions. They play the game with an impromptu gusto that's exciting to watch. Flutie is probably the most mobile, followed by Garcia and Dickenson.
"I'm not going to scare anybody with my speed," said Dickenson, who was planning to play about two quarters Saturday night before the Chargers recently signed Drew Brees.
Dickenson plays more of a heady game than Flutie or Garcia. Dickenson is also smart enough to realize his opportunity never would have materialized without his Calgary predecessors.
"I don't know if I would have gotten a shot if it wasn't for what Jeff did last year," Dickenson said. To show his appreciation, Dickenson had Garcia present him with the Most Outstanding Player award during the offseason.
Dickenson backed up Garcia for three years, before Garcia journeyed south for his opportunity in the NFL. "It's tough because I wanted to play," said Dickenson, "but we had a good relationship."
All three quarterbacks benefited from the CFL style of play. "Up there you have to have a good quarterback to win," Dickenson said. "You can be more aggressive with your play. Down here, you try to limit your mistakes. Look at (Super Bowl champion) Baltimore last year. You can get away with not having an all-star at quarterback because of the great defenses."