Flutie to Sign With Generals for $7 Million
Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Doug Flutie of Boston College, spurning the National Football League, said Friday he will sign a multimillion-dollar contract with the New Jersey Generals of the United States Football League.
The contract, believed to be worth at least $7 million over at least five years, could make him the highest-paid pro football player and the highest-paid rookie in any sport.
“I’m a little bit relieved that this is out of the way now and I can get to work,” Flutie said. “I’m just excited.”
Bob Woolf, Flutie’s agent, said the 5-9 3/4 quarterback might sign the contract next Tuesday or Wednesday and then report immediately to the Generals’ training camp, which is already under way in Orlando, Fla.
The Generals play their first exhibition game Feb. 2 against the Memphis Showboats at Charlotte, N.C., and open the regular season Feb. 24 at Birmingham, Ala.
“When I started my college career, I didn’t really expect a lot,” Flutie said in an interview at Woolf’s office. “It’s going to feel good being with a good organization. It’s a first-class outfit all the way. So it’s really encouraging for me to be in that type of situation.”
Flutie, the major-college career leader in total offense and passing yardage, would be the third consecutive Heisman Trophy winner to choose the 3-year-old USFL over the NFL. Running backs Herschel Walker, the winner in 1982, is with the Generals, and 1983 winner Mike Rozier played with Pittsburgh last season.
Generals owner Donald Trump, reached in New York, said: “It’s going to be great. Having Doug Flutie will be fabulous not only for the Generals, but for their fans.
NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle, in Honolulu for the Pro Bowl, called Flutie “an exciting player . . . I’d like to see him in the NFL.
“There’s no one player, regardless of how good he is, who can make a difference in the NFL.”
Rozelle added that “some, if not all, of the clubs in the NFL were concerned about the money. It has a bigger ripple effect with the players in our league.”
The Buffalo Bills have the top choice in the NFL draft April 30, but Woolf said Friday that he hadn’t been contacted in the past week by the NFL or the Bills. During the college football season, in which he led Boston College to a 10-2 record and a Cotton Bowl victory, Flutie had indicated a preference for the older league.
But he said Friday he had “no regrets at all” about joining the USFL.
“I don’t care what league it is. It’s going to be a big challenge for me,” he said. “It’s exciting. It’s something new. I’m going to take a real aggressive attitude toward it.”
Buffalo General Manager Terry Bledsoe said Tuesday that the Bills were considering several players, including Flutie, for their first choice. Tuesday night, Bills owner Ralph Wilson said the team would match the Generals’ offer if the club decided it wanted Flutie. But he did not say when the Bills would make a decision.
Flutie was asked if he considered the option of the NFL in reaching his final decision Thursday.
“In my mind, it was more, ‘What are my options with the USFL?’ And all my options looked good, so that’s what made my decision,” he said. “Opportunities are really boundless, being in New York City and having the opportunity to play with Herschel Walker.”
The Generals play their home games at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., a few miles from New York City. On Friday, Jim Squires, manager of the Generals’ ticket office, said “the phones have been ringing all afternoon.”
“We’re planning to bring in almost everybody this weekend, some on overtime, to work the phones,” Squires said. “We figure that once the news get all around, a lot of people will be calling about tickets.”