Doug Flutie’s controversial signing with Chicago

Doug Flutie’s controversial signing with Chicago

Postby Jamie Johnson » Thu Sep 23, 2021 2:49 am

Why was there so much controversy when Chicago signed Flutie in 1986? Why did his some of his teammates resent him before he even suited up? Or was this just a case of the Bears not wanting an outsider to join them?
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Re: Doug Flutie’s controversial signing with Chicago

Postby RichardBak » Thu Sep 23, 2021 7:35 am

Flutie's signing in Oct. 1986 meant that the Bears now had 4 QBs---Jim McMahon and backups Mike Tomczak and Steve Fuller---so one of them (Tomczak or Fuller) would have to go. It was a tight-knit crew coming off that great 1985 season, and some of the Bears, following McMahon's lead, were openly critical of the signing, viewing it as an act of disloyalty by management. Also, I'm sure McMahon didn't appreciate the likelihood of having to compete with Flutie for the #1 spot the next year in camp. However, Ditka supported Flutie, as did influential guys in the locker room like Walter Payton and Willie Gault.

The whole issue became moot when McMahon re-injured his shoulder in Nov. and was lost for the season. Flutie started 4-5 games, including the Bears' postseason opener vs. Washington. Flutie was terrible, Bears lost, and Flutie was sent packing. I don't think it was personality clashes that did him in, or even that lousy game vs. the Skins. I think more than anything it was a case of Flutie's style not fitting in with the Bears' offense.
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Re: Doug Flutie’s controversial signing with Chicago

Postby rhickok1109 » Thu Sep 23, 2021 8:26 am

RichardBak wrote:Flutie's signing in Oct. 1986 meant that the Bears now had 4 QBs---Jim McMahon and backups Mike Tomczak and Steve Fuller---so one of them (Tomczak or Fuller) would have to go. It was a tight-knit crew coming off that great 1985 season, and some of the Bears, following McMahon's lead, were openly critical of the signing, viewing it as an act of disloyalty by management. Also, I'm sure McMahon didn't appreciate the likelihood of having to compete with Flutie for the #1 spot the next year in camp. However, Ditka supported Flutie, as did influential guys in the locker room like Walter Payton and Willie Gault.

The whole issue became moot when McMahon re-injured his shoulder in Nov. and was lost for the season. Flutie started 4-5 games, including the Bears' postseason opener vs. Washington. Flutie was terrible, Bears lost, and Flutie was sent packing. I don't think it was personality clashes that did him in, or even that lousy game vs. the Skins. I think more than anything it was a case of Flutie's style not fitting in with the Bears' offense.

According to PFR, Flutie started only one regular-season game for the Bears in 1986 and they won it. He had an 80.1 passer rating for the season, which was pretty good for the era.
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Re: Doug Flutie’s controversial signing with Chicago

Postby conace21 » Thu Sep 23, 2021 9:40 am

McMahon was derisive towards Flutie from the start, calling him "America's Midget." Ditka inviting Flutie to his house for Thanksgiving apparently increased the resentment in some circles.
In recent years, defensive players (including Richard Dent, I believe) have complained that the Bears would have won the Super Bowl with Fuller or Tomczak playing QB. There may have been some revisionist history. Tomczak won all seven of his starts, but he had two touchdown passes and ten interceptions. This was not a 2000 Ravens scenario of just avoiding turnovers on offense. Fuller had slightly better stats, but his two starts were Chicago's only two losses in the regular season.

Flutie did play poorly in the playoffs against Washington. He had a long TD pass, but only completed about 1/3 of his passes, and had two interceptions. Dent and the other defenders don't usually mention the Bears defense (which statistically was slightly better than the 1985 defense) didn't rise up in the playoffs, as they had the year before. 302 yards, 19 first downs, 27 points allowed on defense (I don't know if turnovers directly set up Washington in scoring territory) represents an average game for most defenses, but it was a bad one for the 1986 Bears.
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Re: Doug Flutie’s controversial signing with Chicago

Postby RichardBak » Thu Sep 23, 2021 10:20 am

rhickok1109 wrote:
RichardBak wrote:Flutie's signing in Oct. 1986 meant that the Bears now had 4 QBs---Jim McMahon and backups Mike Tomczak and Steve Fuller---so one of them (Tomczak or Fuller) would have to go. It was a tight-knit crew coming off that great 1985 season, and some of the Bears, following McMahon's lead, were openly critical of the signing, viewing it as an act of disloyalty by management. Also, I'm sure McMahon didn't appreciate the likelihood of having to compete with Flutie for the #1 spot the next year in camp. However, Ditka supported Flutie, as did influential guys in the locker room like Walter Payton and Willie Gault.

The whole issue became moot when McMahon re-injured his shoulder in Nov. and was lost for the season. Flutie started 4-5 games, including the Bears' postseason opener vs. Washington. Flutie was terrible, Bears lost, and Flutie was sent packing. I don't think it was personality clashes that did him in, or even that lousy game vs. the Skins. I think more than anything it was a case of Flutie's style not fitting in with the Bears' offense.

According to PFR, Flutie started only one regular-season game for the Bears in 1986 and they won it. He had an 80.1 passer rating for the season, which was pretty good for the era.


You're right. I should have said Flutie played in the last 4-5 games of the season, as Ditka tried to make up his mind between Tomczak and Flutie. I was working pretty much on memory. I remember Flutie and the Bears beating the Lions on Monday Night Football, but Tomczak started that game. Flutie started the season finale at Dallas and then the playoff game vs. Skins.
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Re: Doug Flutie’s controversial signing with Chicago

Postby Brian wolf » Thu Sep 23, 2021 9:23 pm

Good thread ... The Bears 1986 season definitely ended in a thud against the Redskins in the playoffs ...
Maybe Tomzak deserved to start but the defense had a bad day with Skins QB Schroeder rolling to his right, ala Montana and throwing well. Flutie didnt play well and I didnt believe the Bears ran enough ... Buddy Ryan had an ability to get the defense in a frenzy but Tobin didnt, though the defense had a good year. Some players on defense, including Dent, had subpar seasons but the Bears should have kept Flutie for the future because Tomzak never had the fire to take the starting job, ... IMO
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Re: Doug Flutie’s controversial signing with Chicago

Postby Brian wolf » Thu Sep 23, 2021 11:51 pm

Tomczak ... sorry. I disagree though Richard because I thought Flutie's skill set fit the Bears perfectly; he just needed more experience playing NFL defenses. You have to wonder how Ditka felt when Flutie went to the Patriots and whipped the Bears in a 1988 game ? He basically appeased McMahon and Tomczak but may have hurt the Bears in the long run by not keeping him ...
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Re: Doug Flutie’s controversial signing with Chicago

Postby 7DnBrnc53 » Sat Sep 25, 2021 8:17 pm

Brian wolf wrote:Good thread ... The Bears 1986 season definitely ended in a thud against the Redskins in the playoffs ...
Maybe Tomzak deserved to start but the defense had a bad day with Skins QB Schroeder rolling to his right, ala Montana and throwing well. Flutie didnt play well and I didnt believe the Bears ran enough ... Buddy Ryan had an ability to get the defense in a frenzy but Tobin didnt, though the defense had a good year. Some players on defense, including Dent, had subpar seasons but the Bears should have kept Flutie for the future because Tomzak never had the fire to take the starting job, ... IMO


I don't remember watching this game too much, but I am not surprised that they had success with rollout passes. I think the Colts did that against the Bears the year before as well. Someone I talk football with online (that I met on You Tube) mentioned this once.
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Re: Doug Flutie’s controversial signing with Chicago

Postby Bryan » Wed Sep 29, 2021 12:57 pm

Brian wolf wrote:Good thread ... The Bears 1986 season definitely ended in a thud against the Redskins in the playoffs ...
Buddy Ryan had an ability to get the defense in a frenzy but Tobin didnt, though the defense had a good year.


Jay Schroeder threw for a lot of yards in 1986, but he turned the ball over a lot and wasn't really thought of as a great QB. The thinking going into the game was that the Bears defense would simply overwhelm Schroeder like they did Eason/Brock/Simms in 1985, and it wouldn't matter who was playing QB for the Bears. I remember being very surprised at how good Schroeder was against the Bears, and thinking that Schroeder might be the next great QB in the NFL (which ended the next week when Schroeder threw something like 50 incompletions against the Giants). The Bears defense needed to step up against the Redskins, and they didn't. The offense was bad, Lew Barnes fumbled a punt, but IMO the Bears weren't going to win that game with a subpar effort on defense. The Redskins were too good on offense to not capitalize.

That said, Steve Fuller beat Washington in the 1984 playoffs at RFK...you'd think Fuller would be the best option among a trio of questionable choices (Fuller/Flutie/T-Suck).
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