May 17, 2006
Flutie to Phelan
It is a play every New England football fan has seen so many times it is hard to know whether we really remember it. Doug Flutie to Gerard Phelan, Nov. 22, 1984.
Flutie retired the other day after a 21-year run as a pro. He is one of the class acts in sports. A Heisman Trophy winner, a 40,000-yard passer and three-time Grey Cup champion in Canada, a Patriot three times, a scrambler, a runner, a thrower, the last – or latest, at least – of the drop-kickers, a little man in a big man’s world.
Off the field, he started the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism. He was as well-spoken, wholesome, candid and interesting as an athlete can be. For New Englanders, it was hard not to root for Flutie, even when he came to town wearing the wrong colors.
For all that, it is the Miracle in Miami that fans will never forget.
He and his roommate Phelan had come to the Boston College team as a quarterback and a running back at the bottom of the depth chart. As Phelan told the Daily News at Brandeis University last year, after a linebacker knocked the wind out of him, an assistant coach asked if he wanted to switch to receiver. When the coach told him he would be fifth-string, Phelan figured it was a promotion.
Flutie and Phelan were fanatics about practice and conditioning, and by their senior year, their work ethic and talent had made them stars.
The game against Miami, the defending national champion, was a doozie. When it reached that fateful final play, Flutie had already completed 33 passes for 428 yards and Phelan had caught 10 for 178. Six seconds remained and BC trailed 45-41. Flutie lined up the Eagles at the Miami 48.
Here is how Gerald Eskenazi of the New York Times described what happened next:
“In the huddle, Flutie called the ‘Flood Tip’ play. In theory, there would be two other wide receivers besides Phelan in the end zone. Phelan’s job was to tip the ball to them. Flutie scrambled back, all the way to his 37, and then, under pressure, went to his right. . . .
“Phelan, one of several receivers lined up right of center, was 1 yard past the goal line when the ball arrived. In front of him, three defenders tumbled over one another, attempting to get to the ball. But the other receivers were not nearby. So Phelan caught the ball himself.”
In memory, it is impossible that little Doug Flutie heaved the ball so far. It is impossible how long the ball hung in the misty air. It is impossible that Phelan had broken free just past the goal line or that the ball Flutie threw was the same one that descended into Phelan’s hands. And it is impossible that Phelan’s soft hands received the ball and held it, almost seeming to do so without touching it.
Flutie will be missed, but we fans will always have Miami.
Two entries ago, I wrote about the most popular content on Concord Monitor Online and how knowing what online readers like influences our news judgment in the daily print edition.
I used the May 10 numbers as an example. On that day, the story on our American Idol panel was at the top of the list with 2,833 readers. The second-place story had 2,295.
We’ve been watching reader use of the Monitor website closely during the floods.
On Monday, the four most popular online stories were flood-related, topped by the governor’s declaring a state of emergency, with 6,170 readers.
Yesterday, the 16 most popular stories were flood-related. Thousands of people used our interactive map of flood events. The No. 1 destination that day was “Our pictures, your pictures.” This is the collection of flood-related photographs shot by both our photographers and our readers. It provided a quick way to tool around the area and see the damage. On that day alone, 4,677 users of Concord Monitor Online did just that.
Thank you to the many visitors to the website. Y’all come back.
And thanks again to all the readers who sent us pictures. We’ll be asking for your help in the future. It’s good to know there are so many of you out there.
Posted by Mike Pride at May 17, 2006 05:04 PM