Doug Flutie Hail Mary Pass | The Miracle in Miami
His own father, the son of a Lebanese immigrant, had been an oft-injured 5’6″ lineman in high school and college. Dick grew up lonely in Baltimore without brothers, with an alcoholic stepmother and a father who seldom made time for play. He never forgot his ineptness when he tried out for Little League against the boys whose fathers had helped them along. When his father refused to let him play football, he cried himself to sleep and joined the golf team. As soon as he graduated from high school, he married Joan Rhodes, his girlfriend across the alley.
The children came, one after the other — Denise, then Bill, then Doug, then Darren. Dick worked days, went to college at night, formed a dance band, moved to Florida, gave his kids music lessons, and dreamed of the day he would have a family band. They had no other family in Florida as, later, they would have no other family in Massachusetts. “All we ever had was each other,” said Joan. “We depended on each other. ” One day Bill said he wanted to play Little League. Dick signed permission and said he would help out. A few days later the coach quit and Dick, with little baseball knowledge, filled in. He went to the library and started reading. Baseball became football became basketball. The boys measured themselves against each other. Bill was the biggest, the fastest. Darren was the toughest. Doug was the most exciting. “Bill made all the plays,” remembered Joan, “but Doug was so much fun to watch.”
Joan joined in, coaching softball, girls’ basketball, running the concession stand at the games. “I learned about sports the same way I learned mothering. It’s there to do, and you just do it.”
Dick taught his sons a game called spoons. “You have a card table. You put one spoon in the middle. A person says ‘Ready … go!’ The first person who can grab the spoon and bring it back wins.”
“The furniture gets broken,” Joan said.
“It’s a good way to improve hand speed,” Dick said.
“I don’t know. It sure broke a lot of furniture,” Joan repeated.
On this night we pass the barbershop, the library, the town square. On a winter’s day in 1985 Doug rode down these streets in an open Thunderbird convertible, Dick and Joan in a convertible up ahead, waving to 50,000 people who ignored the cold to celebrate Doug Flutie Day. “The greatest parade this town’s ever seen,” said the police chief. As they rode, loudspeakers on the sidewalk blared again the football announcer’s frenzied shouts from November 23, 1984. “He did it! He did it! Flutie did it! He got Phelan in the end zone! Touchdown! Touchdown! Touchdown Boston College! No time on the clock! It is over! It is over!”
Soon in Natick there was a road called Flutie Pass. The youth football championship game was called the Flutie Bowl. People came to Dick and said, “You must be so proud of Doug.”
“I’m proud of all my children,” he replied. “Doug is proud to be a member of our family. The good times come and go,” he said, “but the family is forever.”
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