By Budd Bailey, Buffalo Sports Page Columnist
Doug Flutie – Signed by the Bills in 1998
The Bills had a quarterback problem in 1997. Todd Collins, Alex Van Pelt and Billy Joe Hobert just weren’t good enough. Buffalo cleaned house at the position in the offseason. They made a good-sized trade with Jacksonville for Rob Johnson. The Bills also added some insurance in the form of signing Doug Flutie, who had been in the Canadian Football League.
Flutie had one of the greatest careers in college football at Boston College, winning the Heisman Trophy in 1985. But NFL stops in Chicago and New England proved difficult for the 5-foot-9 quarterback, and he headed to the CFL. Flutie was an standout there through 1997, but he still had the itch to play in the NFL. Buffalo gave him that chance.
Flutie eventually won the starting job, and helped the Bills gain a playoff spot with a 10-6 record. He was picked for the Pro Bowl. The team’s lease for Rich Stadium was expiring, and it could be argued that Flutie’s play helped keep the team in Buffalo, and that moves him up the list. He was back as the starter in 1999, but lost his job at the end of the season to Johnson. That year ended with the “Music City Miracle,” a playoff loss to Tennessee.
Flutie spent 2000 as Johnson’s backup, and the two men did not get along. Salary cap issues forced the Bills to pick one to keep, and they picked Johnson. Flutie spent three years in San Diego and one in New England, retiring at age 43.
(Follow Budd on Twitter @WDX2BB)