Doug Flutie nearly added another chapter to his Canadian Football League career.
In 2006, the six-time CFL Most Outstanding Player was 43 years old and coming off his final NFL season. He hadn’t officially retired but New England was offering a one-day contract to call it a career as a Patriot.
Then Damon Allen got hurt.
The Toronto Argonauts quarterback was a key cog in the team coached by former Flutie teammate Michael “Pinball” Clemons, who won back-to-back Grey Cups with him 1996 and 1997. Without a viable backup, Clemons discussed bringing Flutie back with then-offensive coordinator Kent Austin.
“Kent is frustrated. We didn’t have a guy that he had confidence in. I asked him, ‘What about Doug?’ He said, ‘Man, if he’ll play.’ I said let’s give it a try. I called him up,” Clemons recalls.
Flutie entertained the idea over the course of a week. But Clemons needed the three-time Grey Cup champion quarterback right away and Flutie had tweaked the tendon in his elbow playing basketball and needed a couple weeks to heal. Plus, his back was bothering him.
“I ended up having a back surgery about a year later if I had that back surgery two years earlier I would’ve played another five years. I woke up the next morning and I thought I should’ve done this a long time ago,” Flutie says.
However, the final decision didn’t involve the elbow or back ailments, instead: legacy.
Flutie memories in Argo colours were about dominance, winning and titles. He amassed 11,225 passing yards, 76 touchdowns, 30-6 win-loss record and each season in Toronto ended with hoisting the Grey Cup. The five-foot-10, 181-pounder set Argos single-season records for yards (5,720) and touchdowns (47). The Argos named him to their all-time on Monday, despite the fact that he played just two seasons with the club.
“We worked through it. We just needed final approval and his wife [Laurie] who exercised the better side of levity said, ‘No guys, we need to preserve this legacy.’ It’s not just about creating it, it’s preserving it as well,” Pinball says.
“We both came to the conclusion that he probably would’ve been terrific, but the book was already written.”