Catching Up with Boston College Football Legend Doug Flutie
Update: Thursday, 10:10 a.m.
Doug Flutie’s father Dick died of a heart attack Wednesday evening following an illness. Within an hour, Flutie’s mother Joan also died of a heart attack. “They say you can die of a broken heart and I believe it,” Flutie said in a Facebook post.
It’s been 30 years since Doug Flutie and the Boston College Eagles handed the Houston Cougars a 45-28 drubbing in the 1985 Cotton Bowl Classic. Fast-forward a few decades, and there’s a new Flutie under center for BC: Doug’s nephew, Troy. No. 22, meanwhile, has spent the last four years as part of NBC Sports’ broadcast team, serving as the color commentator for Notre Dame football since 2014.
BC and Notre Dame are set to reignite their rivalry this Saturday at Fenway Park, in the first football game played there in more than 40 years. Flutie will be caught in the middle, watching from the broadcast booth, while former NESN host Kathryn Tappen will be reporting from the sidelines. We caught up with Flutie ahead of the big game to see if he still gets the itch to lace up and play.
When it gets to be this time of year, when there’s a chill in the air and the leaves all change color, do you miss playing football for BC?
You want to pick up a ball and throw it around. I do the Notre Dame games, and when I’m out on the field on a Friday, and we’re waiting on the kids to get out on the field, I’ll pick up a ball and start throwing. And it’s just that atmosphere—the weather. And maybe in pregame, when I see the kids in uni and they’re getting all fired up, just throwing routes or pat-and-go or something simple, that’s when you get it.
For the most part, I don’t miss it. Ninety-nine percent of the time, I don’t miss it. But when you’re standing right there and the kids are in front of you, then it’s like, ‘That was fun. That was fun.'”
What’s it like watching your nephew Troy out there?
You just want him to show well, and I’m just so proud of him for, No. 1, his high school career that he had, No. 2, gaining a scholarship and having some choices for where to go, and choosing Boston College. He loves being a student at Boston College. When the injury happened early in the season and he got on the field, I went from just a casual observer to a nervous wreck. [laughs] He’s a freshman. He was learning. He got thrown in a little bit before he was ready, but you know what? He did some really good things. He threw some touchdown passes and won a game.
You throw the switch at times from just being a proud uncle. This is going to be one of those weeks. It’s easy to do, I’ve done it before when my other nephew Billy was playing for Boston College, I did the Boston College-Miami down in the old Orange Bowl. Once you’re in the booth, you’re just looking down on the field and there’s two teams, and you’re X-and-Oing it a little bit and seeing what the should be. Just talking football. A lot of times at that point, they just become numbers on a field.
Are you really just a casual fan, or do you have any bias toward your alma mater?
No. I really am. If anything—and I don’t cheer for either team when I’m doling games—I’m closer to the Notre Dame kids than I am the Boston College kids right now because I know them better. [laughs] We’ve been covering them for four years.
I’m living full-time down in Florida right now, so I’m not even around campus as much as I used to be. My nephew Billy would work in the athletic department at BC, and I’d go in and play some pickup basketball with him once in a while. So you’d bump into the coaches and say hi, and maybe pop over and see some of the kids once in a while. But that was about it. Since my nephew [Troy] went to BC—this is his second year at BC—I’ve kept a closer watch on the program, or a closer eye on what’s going on. I just haven’t been one of those guys that’ve been attached to the program at the hip.
What was your reaction when BC’s throwback jerseys honoring your 1985 Cotton Bowl team were unveiled?
Under Armour contacted me and I went and did a photo shoot and all that. I hadn’t been in a uniform since I retired 10 years ago. First of all, I love the fact they’re going to the old uni and the ’84 team, that style of uniform. I love that for the nostalgia of it, and I actually think they look better. I felt like an old man putting on a football uniform. [laughs] It was fun. It was fun to put it on and throw the ball around.
— Under Armour FTBL (@UAFootball) November 17, 2015
How close are you with the guys from that team?
Gerard Phelan and I are very close. I talk to Troy Stafford once in a while, maybe Scott Gieselman. We cross paths. Because I work covering college football, I think that’s maybe part of the reason why I’m not as close to the program as I could be. I always work in the fall and I’m always on the road. But when I do get to games, we all keep in touch and we cross paths at the games.
The really cool thing is, you pick up where you left off, whether it’s old stories, or ‘How’s the family now?’ We keep in touch through emails. There are a couple of players, one of them Dougie Guyer, who has really done a great job of keeping everybody in touch with each other through emails. I was always horrible at the whole email thing, and keeping in touch, and he’s made it so easy for us. In fact, I just got an email from Doug Guyer about five minutes before you called making fun of my picture of me in the uniform. I forget who sent it to him, but one of the other guys sent it to him, and then he had to give me a hard time. We’ve kept in touch.
Steve Strachan, his nephew [Connor Strachan] is on this current Boston College team. And then Eric Lindstrom, who was a couple years younger but still on our Cotton Bowl team, I think it’s his nephew too [Chris Lindstrom] who’s on the team, an offensive lineman. There’s three of us who have nephews playing this week. It’s where the conversation turns. It’s not about the old days. It’s about whose son’s doing what, and everybody’s bragging about their kid in high school. So it’s still a close fraternity.
The Nephew Club.
Yeah. The Nephew Club.