Doug Flutie - Quarterback - 1990-91 - Boston College
Excerpt From 'Flutie' By Perry Lefko Warwick Publishing - Toronto Pg.84
I had looked around the NFL and didn’t have a lot of options there. I started talking a bit with the British Columbia Lions, who had acquired my rights after Calgary took me off their negotiation list. Larry Kuharich, who became the head coach of the Lions after the 1989 season, immediately put my name on the team’s negotiation list just ahead of the Toronto Argo’s, who also put in a claim.
The Lions had the league-leading quarterback in passing yardage the year before in Matt Dunigan, who was earning a base salary of $210,000 a year. He was involved in a contract squabble pertaining to bonus money and was traded to Toronto on March 20 in a six-for-one deal. Once there, Dunigan was signed to a new deal. The Argo’s were courting Major Harris at the time. He played U.S.
college ball at West Virginia and had finished fourth the year before in voting for the Heisman. The day after acquiring Dunigan the Argos traded Harris’ rights to the Lions. The Lions flew me up in June and let me take a look at the facilities and the team and all that.
I wasn’t an expert on the CFL by any means, but I did have some knowledge about its history. I knew that Joe Theismann had played for Toronto in the early 70’s. I had heard Vince Ferragamo had gone up there to play in Montreal. I knew that Warren Moon had come from the CFL, but growing up I didn’t pay too much attention to the names or know any of the players. I hadn’t heard a lot about the CFL until my senior year when we were playing Alabama and its head coach Ray Perkins said I would make a good CFL quarterback.
I went to watch practice, and it was kind of at a rinky-dink little college – Trinity College – that they were using for a facility about 45 minutes outside of Vancouver. I kind of shook my head at the facilities, but when you looked at the guys on the field they were great athletes. Mark Gastineau, who was a key member of the New York Jets’ Sack Exchange, joined the team as a free agent that year. Mark had his share of problems before and after that, but as a person he was fine. I never had any problems with him. Major Harris was there. I talked to some of the guys, and they were shaking their heads watching Major, who was such a fantastic athlete. He could throw the ball a mile and run, but he had trouble learning the system; he didn’t really read coverage.
I was going back to Boston because the contract talks between my agents and the Lions’ management weren’t working out. That’s when Murray Pezim intervened. He called me over to his house,which was situated just off the downtown core. Murray treated me like a king for a couple days and even cooked for me. Murray loved to cook.
Murray was a real character. He described himself publicly as the “world’s greatest promoter.” He said all kinds of crazy things and didn’t care what people thought. It got down to him asking me what it would take to get me to play in B.C. We worked a deal for about $350,000 U.S. annually for two years. It was the highest salary in the league and the first in American currency. The contract called for $150,000 to be registered with the league as part of a standard player’s contract and $165,000 to be paid as part of a personal services deal. The remaining monies were for bonuses.
Murray announced the signing in his office in the early evening and proudly proclaimed “The B.C. Lions are going to kick the crap out of the Argos, and Doug Flutie will be there, Tell Dunigan that Gastineau is looking for him.”
Continued by CFL-H
Doug split playing time with Joe Paopao and Major Harris in his first season with B.C. under coach Larry Kuharich. Kuharich ran a NFL style offence which did not fully utilize Doug’s ability. Kuharich was replaced with Bob O’Billovich at mid-season and it is under O’Billovich that Flutie really began to blossom as B.C closed out the 1990 season. The Lions finished 6-11-1 in 1990.
Under O’Billovich in ’91 Flutie exploded passing for 6,619 yards a record in professional football. Flutie threw 38 Touchdowns and 24 interceptions. He also had 610 rushing yard as he one his first of 6 Most Outstanding Player Awards. Darren Flutie joined B.C. at midseason after being released by the Phoenix Cardinals in just 8 games as a rookie he had 860 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns, remarkable totals. The Lions finished 11-7 in 1991 but were defeated 43-41 by Danny Barrett and the Calgary Stampeders in the Western Semi-Final.
After the ’91 season it was time to negotiate a new contract for Doug, while he did consider a return to the NFL; the CFL was the best option for Doug both professionally and financially. After a drawn out contract dispute with Murray Pezim, Doug was contacted by Larry Ryckman new owner of the Calgary Stampeders. Ryckman was looking to make a splash and did so with a three year deal with an escalating salary of more than $1 million annually by the end of the contract. Included in the deal was also an option to own a portion of the franchise at the end of the deal. The deal was too good to pass up and Doug left the West Coast after an outstanding season in 1991.
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