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Flutie on Manziel in CFL: 'I can't wait to see him'

Eagle-Tribune - 7/26/2018

July 26--Doug Flutie is not the general manager of the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League.

But he might as well be.

Last Saturday night, Flutie was watching the Alouettes game against the Calgary Stampede from man cave in his home in Melbourne, Fla.

Why would he do that on a Saturday night?

After eight years in the CFL, thanks to be shunned by the NFL, which included three Grey Cup championships, three Grey Cup MVPs and six CFL Player of the Year Awards, he has an affinity for football in the Great White North.

But on this night, the Alouettes were struggling mightily on offense.

"I said, 'Montreal is struggling, especially at quarterback (due to injuries),' " said the former Boston College legend. "And Johnny (Manziel) isn't playing right now, as a backup for Hamilton [Tiger-Cats]. Their starter was older, experienced and playing well. And Montreal could really use him."

Less than 24 hours later, Manziel, who hadn't played a down as a backup in Hamilton, was dealt as part of a big five-player deal and two first-round picks.

Flutie has an affinity for Manziel, too. Not only are they part of an exclusive club, the Downtown Athletic Club in Manhattan -- Heisman Trophy winners, Flutie in 1984 and Manziel in 2012 -- but the duo share something else.

A style of play not really suited or appreciated for the control-ridden NFL.

They like to move more than the average quarterback. Way, way more.

"The Johnny from Texas A&M, and I, were very similar," said Flutie. "He did a lot of instinctive and creative things which I could relate to. He would throw a ridiculous interception, but he more than made up for it with big plays.

"People guys like myself or Johnny moving and scrambling and think we were in desperation-mode," said Flutie. "But we weren't. Johnny is comfortable on the move. He's relaxed while he running, buying time to make a play. I love it."

When Flutie heard on Sunday that Manziel was headed to the Alouettes, he laughed. Then he texted Manziel.

"I let him know I was very happy for him getting a chance," said Flutie, who will again by the color commentator for Notre Dame football games on NBC this fall.

"He sent me a nice note back, thanking me," said Flutie. "I have texted him from time to time over the years. We are part of a club together. And I really want to see him succeed."

While Flutie's success is Canada is nearly unparalleled -- he has been called the greatest quarterback to ever play in the CFL -- it is not to be confused with be any easy place to play.

"I told him that," said Flutie. "I struggled for several games my first year there with British Columbia (Lions), about a half-season. You have to play teams a few times, figure out what certain defensive coordinators are trying to do and how to take advantage of them."

But that doesn't mean Manziel won't or can't have success. In fact, Flutie predicts he have glimpses of greatness almost immediately.

"He will still have to learn the CFL game to eventually get to an elite level on a consistent basis," said Flutie. "Johnny can win games being an athlete, with his skills set. But to win it all, to be dynamic and reach his full potential, he's going to need some time."

One adjustment Manziel will have to make, vis-a-vis the NFL, is the typical day in Canada. It's about 4 1/2 hours long versus anywhere from 10 to 12 hours in the NFL.

"The work schedule, day-to-day, is shorter so you better be disciplined to put the extra work in on your own," said Flutie. "For guys that party a lot or don't like to work hard, it's easy to fall into a bad pattern."

Another thing Manziel has going for him is Montreal's head coach and former Packers head coach (2000-05), Mike Sherman, is all-in with "Johnny Football" as his quarterback.

"I loved hearing what Mike said, that he wanted Johnny to do his thing," said Flutie. "When a coach or general manager isn't all-in, you're always trying to prove yourself in every practice and every game. You're worried about throwing an interception even in practice.

"The fact that it appears Johnny will be able to play and improve helps his chances," said Flutie. "It always helps when people believe in you like that. I will be out tomorrow night, so I can't see the game live. But I'll DVR the game. I can't wait to see him."

You can email Bill Burt at bburt@eagletribune.com.

*******BREAKOUT BOX

Baseball is Flutie's game

While Doug Flutie is noted for his collegiate and pro football prowess, covering 25 years, his game of choice right now is baseball.

He plays in a few men's leagues, including over-40 and over-50 leagues in the Melbourne, Fla. area.

But with rosters thin due to the warm weather, he is currently on a team in the over-18 league.

"I went up against a kid throwing in 90 miles per hour the other day," said Flutie, whose family was originally from the Melbourne area before moving to Natick as a boy.

"Talk about adjustments? I love it. The weather is great down here," he said. "And I love the competition in baseball."

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(c)2018 The Eagle-Tribune (North Andover, Mass.)

Visit The Eagle-Tribune (North Andover, Mass.) at www.eagletribune.com

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