Quarterback Doug Flutie, who was hailed as the savior of the struggling U.S. Football League after he won the Heisman Trophy last season and signed with the New Jersey Generals, said yesterday he does not believe his likely trade by the Generals is a repudiation of his abilities.
"It's a move that Donald Trump and the new owners are making to strengthen the league," Flutie said in a telephone interview a day after his team merged with the Houston Gamblers, whose quarterback is league leader Jim Kelly. "I'm stuck in the middle of it. I don't see it as a move to get rid of Doug Flutie. It strengthens the Generals and it strengthens the league. I'm just going to sit back and wait to see where I go.
"As far as I'm concerned, I'll end up playing and prove my point (that he is not too small). This year I threw the ball only about 15 times a game. I didn't get a chance (to prove himself). I know what I can do. Maybe it's a blessing in disguise."
Flutie said the shoulder he injured late in the season has completely healed, and he is exercising and running to stay in shape. Thursday, a few hours after the merger was announced, Flutie was at Boston College, his alma mater, playing basketball.
The prospects of another USFL franchise being placed in Boston excite him, Flutie said, "because I don't want to be tossed around. Being out in Chicago is not very attractive to me. I'd like to get here where I know people are on my side. In Jersey, it was almost like people had an eye out, waiting for me to screw up."
Why did he mention Chicago, where White Sox co-owner Eddie Einhorn is starting up a new USFL team? "That's where everybody says I'm going," he said.
Having good teams and well-known personalities in the nation's biggest television markets is a USFL priority when it begins fall football in 1986. Kelly, who some consider one of the top three quarterbacks in pro football after two seasons in Houston, was said to be ready to jump to the National Football League unless he could play in New York.
A player of Kelly's magnitude leaving the USFL likely would have been regarded by potential investors as a death knell for the league.
Flutie is set financially. He signed a six-year, $8.3 million contract with Trump, who is obligated to pay him if his new team defaults on the contract.
"There was a marriage. Now there's a divorce," said Bob Woolf, Flutie's Boston-based attorney. "Thank God we had a prenuptial agreement."