|Marty and Flutie made for each other|
By Jason Whitlock
Page 2 columnist
Doug Flutie and Marty Schottenheimer deserve each other.
If the NFL had its own dictionary, Flutie and Schottenheimer would be pictured next to the terms "fool's gold" and "quarterback killer." Each term perfectly describes both men's NFL legacies.
Brees still doesn't know what hit him. Television cameras spotted him yukking it up on the sideline with Flutie last Sunday as the Chargers routed the Minnesota Vikings 42-28, thanks to yet another fool's-gold performance by Flutie.
San Diego hadn't scored 40-plus points in a decade -- since the days of Marion Butts, Natrone Means and Stan Humphries. And the offensive outburst couldn't have come at a better time. The Chargers began the season with playoff aspirations, but Sunday's victory was just their second.
So it's no surprise that the Chargers and their fans are swept up in Flutiemania.
"[Flutie] just has that aura," Chargers defensive end Marcellus Wiley told a San Diego Union Tribune reporter. "He just has that flair to him that guys believe in. As fast as you are before, when you're playing with him, you've got another step, you have another level in you. He's a playmaker ... Sometimes the X's and O's don't work and he comes out with these Z's and P's and R's."
No disrespect to Flutie, but the last time he won an important game Bernie Kosar was the quarterback of the Miami Hurricanes. And it just so happens that Kosar was the first, only and last young NFL quarterback Schottenheimer ever developed.
No one should be surprised that a QB controversy torched San Diego's promising football season. That's about all Flutie has been good for ever since he rejoined the NFL after winning several meaningless Grey Cups and MVP awards in Canada. Flutie fools NFL coaches, teammates and fans into believing he's the answer, and then accomplishes very little. He's never won an NFL playoff game. The guy is too short and his arm is too weak to ever amount to a modern Fran Tarkenton.
Flutie is the journeyman, 7-foot NBA center, a la Joe Kleine. The NBA doesn't give up on 7-foot stiffs, and the NFL refuses to give up on Flutie. He has an intangible that you can't coach. He's so cute and cuddly and loveable that he sells jerseys almost as fast as Michael Jordan. Slap Flutie and the No. 7 on the back of a team jersey and watch 'em fly off the shelves.
Steve Grogan and Tony Eason were Flutie victims in New England. Flutiemania sabotaged Rob Johnson in Buffalo.
Schottenheimer's list of quarterback roadkill is a lot longer than Flutie's. Marty loves to babble about avoiding QB controversies and only having eyes for one QB. But try as he might, Schottenheimer has spent the last decade embroiled in private and public QB disputes. Among his Kansas City quarterback crimes was his inability to develop any of the young QBs the Chiefs drafted -- Mike Elkins, Matt Blundin, Steve Stenstrom and Pat Barnes. Maybe these guys all stunk. None caught on with other teams and made an impact. But Schottenheimer obviously thought they had some upside or he wouldn't have drafted them.
Marty spent the next four seasons mishandling Steve Bono, Rich Gannon and Elvis Grbac. Marty pegged Gannon, the league's MVP last season, the worst of that trio. After Gannon carried the Chiefs to five straight victories late in the 1997 season, Marty benched Gannon in favor of Grbac for the playoffs. The Chiefs promptly puked all over themselves in a home loss to the Broncos, scoring just 10 points, and turning a fine 13-3 regular season into an embarrassment Kansas City football fans still haven't forgotten.
Marty waited all of two games before dumping my favorite QB, Jeff George, in Washington. With future Hall of Famer Tony Banks waiting in the wings, it's hard to blame Marty for jettisoning George.
I'm just glad Schottenheimer and Flutie have found each other. Maybe they're fooling each other. Maybe Flutie sees a Super Bowl coach in Schottenheimer, and Marty's probably foolish enough to see a Super Bowl quarterback in the 41-year-old Flutie.
Teams keep hiring Schottenheimer, believing he'll eventually find playoff success. Coaches keep playing Flutie because he'll do just enough on the field (and a whole lot off the field) to buy a troubled coach an extra season.
Yep. The way things are headed, San Diego will be rooting for fool's gold for at least one more season.
Jason Whitlock is a columnist for the Kansas City Star (kcstar.com) and a regular contributor on ESPN The Magazine's Sunday morning edition of "The Sports Reporters." He also hosts an afternoon radio show, "The Doghouse," on Kansas City's 61 Sports KCSP. He can be reached at email@example.com.