- The Washington Times - Friday, May 19, 2006

Doug Flutie is the last.

Flutie on Monday retired from the NFL, becoming — 20 years after the USFL folded — the final alumnus of that upstart league to hang up his cleats.

Three of the 187 USFL players who went on to play in the NFL have been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame: quarterbacks Jim Kelly and Steve Young and defensive end Reggie White. Offensive tackle Gary Zimmerman likely will be enshrined, as well. George Allen, Fred Biletnikoff, Sid Gillman and Marv Levy, all of whom coached in the USFL, also have busts in Canton.

With all the players now retired, it’s up to Carolina coach John Fox and front office bosses Rod Graves of Arizona, Bill Polian of Indianapolis, Carl Peterson of Kansas City, Charley Armey of St. Louis, A.J. Smith of San Diego, Tim Ruskell of Seattle, Bruce Allen of Tampa Bay and Buffalo’s Levy to keep memories of the USFL alive.

The 43-year-old Flutie still is best known for what he did in college, his Heisman Trophy-winning Hail Mary to Gerard Phelan for Boston College in 1984. He had no such signature moment in the NFL.

However, Flutie started playoff games for Chicago and Buffalo, won MVP awards and championships in the CFL from 1990 to 1997 and started at least one game in 19 of his 21 seasons. Not bad for a guy who was supposedly too short for the pros.

“Doug just makes things happen on the football field,” New England coach Bill Belichick said at Flutie’s retirement press conference. “He’s had an unbelievable career.”

Meant for each other

Jason Allen attended Nick Saban’s summer camps while starring at running back in high school. But Allen spurned Saban and LSU for Tennessee because he was worried that the coach would leave before his four years were completed. Saban did indeed head to the NFL in 2005, and he finally got his man last month when Miami drafted Allen, now a defensive back, 16th overall.

“Coach Saban is a defensive back guru,” Allen said. “I felt he could be one of the coaches that could make me an elite college football player. I just took a little different route going to Tennessee. But now I’m blessed in Miami. I can see Coach Saban every day and he can develop me into an elite NFL defensive back.”

The Wright stuff?

Texas defensive tackle Rodrique Wright was a finalist for the Lombardi Award, which is given each year to the nation’s top lineman. However, Wright fell off many draft boards when it was discovered at the NFL Combine that he had a torn rotator cuff.

Miami finally gambled and took Wright with the 18th selection of the seventh round.

“Obviously I’m disappointed, but I’m a little relieved that I know that it was an injury issue instead of a talent issue,” said Wright, who had 46 tackles — 13 for losses — and 4½ sacks in 2005.

Draft thy neighbor

Southern Cal tight end David Kirtman, Seattle’s fifth-round choice, isn’t just a hometown guy from Mercer Island, Wash. He’s also coach Mike Holmgren’s next-door neighbor.

However, although Holmgren and Kirtman’s father played against each other in high school and remain friendly, the coach had never met the younger Kirtman. That speaks to how often NFL coaches are at home.

“I’m not anti-social, but I don’t go around borrowing cups of sugar all the time, either,” Holmgren said.

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide