Who says Doug Flutie is too small to stand up to a rush? The 5-9 3/4 quarterback of the Generals has withstood an all-out blitz from the media and the public that showed no signs of ceasing as his first game as a professional approached.
There have been requests for his time from all three major networks, Turner Broadcasting System, national magazines, the usual flock of newspapers and local television and radio stations, the Gold Helmet Award sponsors in Seattle, the Maxwell Award sponsors in Philadelphia, and the tourists and townfolk here who stop Flutie long enough to fit him into the frame of their instamatic cameras.
There was the artist who telephoned the Generals to have Flutie for “only an hour” to paint his portrait. And then there was the teacher from Orlando Jones High School who requested that Flutie, Herschel Walker and coach Walt Michaels speak to his class.
Flutie has been polite and accommodating, though he has learned to say no, too. It is not lost on him that many of the people who have asked for his time also will ask that he be the same Doug Flutie of last-gasp passes and Boston College wizardry in his professional debut.
“I try to do whatever they ask me to do,” Flutie said. “The trouble is that right now I want to put as much work into football as I can. It’s very important for me to get off to a good start. By the same token, I feel a responsibility to handle the media and those sort of things. I’ve had a little free time to do some things, but I feel like my time is so limited.
“Any game is important to me,” Flutie said. “At Boston College, when I went out for the spring games, I wanted to win. Maybe it is more important than other preseason games. It’s just that everyone is expecting a lot from me in my first week of professional football. I want to confirm my expectations.”
And what about the others, whose expectations may not only be higher but also unreasonable?
“That doesn’t worry me,” Flutie said. “I want to do the best I can. If I go out and fall flat on my face, it’s a learning experience.”
Flutie’s pro career began in a whirlwind that began Feb. 5 in New York, where the Generals announced his signing. He flew to Orlando that night and by the next afternoon he was the starting quarterback by virtue of a trade that sent Brian Sipe to the Jacksonville Bulls.
The Generals assigned Flutie to room with Vince Stroth, a reserve offensive lineman who was acquired in the dispersal draft of Chicago Blitz players. Stroth quickly became one of the most popular interviews in camp. Of course, most of the questions he is asked are about Flutie, including one from a writer who wanted to know if Flutie snored. (Stroth said he did not.)
“The worst question I got was, ‘What’s it like to room with a millionaire?’ ” said Stroth, who played with Los Angeles Express quarterback Steve Young at Brigham Young. “Doug is a pretty good guy. He was apprehensive at first. Rookie nervousness, I guess. He’d sit there looking at the phone and I’d say, ‘Relax.’ ”
Flutie has found little time to relax, not with all the interviews and the cram sessions to learn the Generals’ offense. He is so in demand that he admitted, “I still have to learn some names before I know who everybody is” on the Generals.
“It’s gone by so fast,” Flutie said. “It’s a very radical change. It’s all about growing up and maturity. Football is my profession now, I’m getting married in August . . . It’s a new experience for me as someone just getting out of college. I still have the same attitude about football I always had. I play hard. I enjoy practice. I’d rather be throwing in passing drills than sitting around and watching TV.”