Flutie more than Hail Mary pass

Winning any award is worth celebrating. Winning an award as prestigious as the Heisman Trophy is in football, well, that's one to savor the rest of your life.


For the most part, that's the way Doug Flutie looks at it. He's very appreciative of being named the best college football player in the land in 1984.

But that doesn't mean he isn't annoyed from time to time by certain aspects of it.

For instance, he gets a little irritated when people mention how his legendary performance in the post-Thanksgiving game against Miami -- the "Hail Flutie" game -- won him the Heisman.

"I think the one thing about it is that everybody comes away thinking that because of the Hail Mary pass I won the Heisman in one play," Flutie said. "The frustrating part is that most of the voting was in at that point."

So, yes, the performance was spectacular. Flutie completed 34 of 46 passes for 472 yards and three touchdowns, and rushed for another. He outdueled Bernie Kosar, who went 25-for-38 for 447 yards and two touchdowns. The seemingly impossible passing yardage total pushed Flutie over 10,000 for his career, making him the first major-college passer to exceed the mark.

But no, it didn't win him the Heisman. He'd already won the stiff-arming statue by throwing for 2,706 yards and 21 touchdowns and leading BC to a 7-2 record in the first nine games.

Avid college football fans already knew all about the quarterback with the big arm, the little frame and a flair for the dramatic -- after all, he'd finished third in the Heisman voting in 1983. But for the rest of the country, the miracle in Miami was Flutie's first appearance in the spotlight.

In his mind, though, he'd been there all along.

"I was the front-runner from Week 3 on," Flutie said of the Heisman voting.

That week, Flutie demolished North Carolina in what he called probably the best single-game performance of his career as a college quarterback. His stat line from that game? Just 28-for-38 for 354 yards and six touchdowns.

That's twice as many touchdown passes as he produced against Miami.

But because that game came early in the season, ended in a 52-20 blowout and wasn't on national television, it's the Hail Mary to beat Miami most people remember.

The collective first impression of Flutie is from his third-to-last game as an Eagle.

Wouldn't you be annoyed, at least a little, if people only remembered you for a single thing you did toward the end of a long career? Or worse, acted if the rest of your work didn't even matter?

"I'm happy to have a moment like that that people will remember," Flutie said of the play, 55 Flood Tip, that ended with Gerard Phelan falling backward into the end zone having hauled in the ball after it traveled some 65 yards in the air. "You'd love them to remember your whole body of work, but I know that's not gonna happen."

Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com.