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CalifYanksFan
03-09-01, 11:44 PM
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NY Times (http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/sports/AP-FBN-Chargers-Flutie.html)

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March 9, 2001


Flutie and Chargers Agree to Deal

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By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS


Filed at 11:14 p.m. ET

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Doug Flutie, all 5-foot-10 inches of him, finally has an NFL starting job of his own.

Granted, it's with the San Diego Chargers, who were an NFL-worst 1-15 last year. But the 38-year-old doesn't have to look over his shoulder and the Chargers are simply ecstatic to have Flutie after dealing with Ryan Leaf's many meltdowns and miscues the last three seasons.

``I'm going into my 17th season of professional football, and for the first time I feel like I'm going to be the guy and have an opportunity to take a team as far as we can go,'' Flutie said Friday after joining his fourth NFL team in a career that also included eight seasons in the CFL.

Flutie's six-year deal is worth $30.3 million, with a $3 million signing bonus. He is guaranteed $14.6 million over the first two seasons.

New general manager John Butler has now spent $101.9 million on four free agents, including $16.6 million in signing bonuses.

The Chargers were somewhat interested in Troy Aikman, but had begun negotiations with Flutie before the Cowboys waived Aikman. Since San Diego's line is less than stellar, Flutie's mobility makes him a better fit.

Although Flutie was 21-9 as a starter in three seasons with the Buffalo Bills, he didn't survive their long-running QB controversy. Rob Johnson won out and Flutie was released last week, on the same day the Chargers waived Leaf.

``I was frustrated for a few hours but then I realized that it just opened a bunch of other doors for me,'' Flutie said.

``It may be the best thing that ever happened to me, to move on. Hopefully it will be the best thing for both Rob and I. Rob has his team and now I have mine, and maybe we'll meet way down the road.''

They'll definitely meet in the fall, because the Chargers are scheduled to play host to the Bills. The exact date will be set in the spring.

The Chargers are expected to take Michael Vick with the opening pick in the April draft, but concede that the exciting Virginia Tech quarterback probably will be a year or two away from playing in the NFL.

If the Chargers do pick Vick, he can learn a lot just from watching Flutie, coach Mike Riley said.

``Doug's main deal will be to play quarterback for this team and win,'' Riley said.

Flutie is reunited with Butler and his assistant, A.J. Smith, who as the top personnel men in Buffalo brought Flutie back to the NFL in 1998.

Although Butler has added star defensive end Marcellus Wiley -- another ex-Bill -- and two new cornerbacks, this was the deal the Chargers needed, said safety Rodney Harrison, one of the team leaders who often bristled at Leaf's antics.

``The quarterback situation has been horrible,'' Harrison said.

In the 3 1/2 seasons since San Diego's only Super Bowl quarterback, Stan Humphries, went down with what turned out to be a career-ending concussion, six Chargers QBs have combined to throw 99 interceptions and just 47 touchdowns.

``I love Doug,'' Harrison said. ``If you can't have a winner, if you can't have a great leader at quarterback, I don't believe a team can win. I think we pretty much solidified that by bringing in Flutie.''

Leaf was 4-14 as a starter in his turbulent three seasons here. He threw 33 interceptions and lost nine fumbles while throwing just 13 touchdown passes.

Flutie helped beat the Chargers on Oct. 15, replacing the injured Johnson and moving the Bills into position for Steve Christie's winning field goal in overtime.

On the day Leaf made his NFL debut in 1998, Flutie almost led the Bills to victory over San Diego in his first NFL game in nine years. With Johnson knocked out of his Bills debut with a concussion, Flutie drove Buffalo to the San Diego 21, only to watch Christie miss a 39-yard field-goal attempt with three seconds left.

New offensive coordinator Norv Turner said the mobile Flutie will fit into his system. ``When plays break down, he can create,'' Turner said. ``That's good in any system.''

Although Flutie has always been dogged about his size, Riley said it didn't matter to the Chargers.

``He has those compelling intangibles that you just can't measure,'' Riley said. ``Those will help us win games.''

On the same day they released Leaf, the Chargers signed Dave Dickenson from Calgary of the CFL, one of Flutie's old teams.

MAFIA
03-11-01, 08:37 PM
THE BILLS MADE A BIG MISTAKE LETTING HIM GO.