All time great CFL receivers – Darren Flutie
I love the history of pro football, and I love the CFL. Which is why in the past on the 99 Yards website CFL pages we have looked at some of the greats of the game. So far, we have looked back at a variety of special teams players. As well as defensive superstars quarterbacks, and running backs (See end of article).
But what about the men out wide? I thought it might be fun to look back at some of the great CFL names in that area of the game. After all, UK based NFL fans with a love of the history of the game can tell you plenty about men like Jery Rice, Randy Moss, Don Hutson, Steve Largent, Calvin Johnson and many many more.
Well I am here to tell UK based gridiron fans that the 3 down game has a pantheon of its own. We started looking at these legendary 3 Down wideouts with Milt Stegall. Then moved on to Ben Cahoon, Allen Pitts, and Geroy Simon.
Now, as Darren Flutie is about to be added to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats Wall of Fame, I thought it would be a great time to check him out too.
Coming to the CFL
Darren Flutie came to the CFL one year after his older brother Doug Flutie. While the elder sibling would have a remarkable career, Darren built his own reputation for himself. In fact, during their respective CFL careers, they only ever played on the same team for part of one season. That came in 1991, when Doug was quarterback for the BC Lions.
Darren joined the Lions as a free agent in 1991 and caught 52 passes in just 8 games, having joined BC in September. The Lions obviously liked what they saw as Darren Flutie was around for a further four seasons with the team.
Darren Flutie – Success with the BC Lions
He had a breakout season in 1992, catching 90 passes fron 1,336 yards and being one of the bright points of a 3-15 team that had 8 and 7 game losing streaks respectively to begin and end the season.
During his time with the Lions, Flutie managed three 1000+ yard seasons receiving including his best year in 1994, when he had 111 catches for 1,731 yards and 8 touchdowns.
1994 – the West Final
That 1994 season also saw the Lions pick up a Grey Cup win in a thrilling and emotional home performance against the Baltimore Stallions. In fact the Lions had finished third in their Division and came through in the playoffs with dramatic wins. 24-23 against Edmonton in the West Semi, 37-36 against the Doug Flutie led Stamps in the West Final, and 26-23 against the Stallions in the Grey Cup.
For Flutie, the best performance came in the West Semi. The Lions were 14-point underdogs that day in Calgary. Yet the Leos pulled off one of the great upsets in franchise history. Darren Flutie was key too. With three TD grabs, including the winner at the end of the game on a snowy field following a remarkable catch at the Stamps five yard line beforehand.
Darren was a Western All-Star in 1992 and 1994. But somehow not making All-Canadian honours in that remarkable 1994 season.
An injury cost Darren 6 games in 1995. Which kept him from adding a fourth straight 1000 yard season with the Lions.
During his time in Vancouver he snagged 391 catches for 5,888 yards and 25 touchdowns.
Two years in Edmonton
After the 1995 season, Darren became a free agent and signed with Edmonton and played two seasons with the then ‘Eskimos’ (1996-1997).
In Edmonton he had two great seasons, pulling in 86 & 90 catches respectively. In fact in just two years in Edmonton he returned 176 catches into 2,675 yards and 15 touchdowns. A pretty impressive 2 season impact.
In a 1997 game he tied the team record with 15 catches. A record he still shares to this day with George McGowan.
A wall of Fame stint in Hamilton for Darren Flutie
As mentioned in the introducion, Flutie is about to be inducted into the Hamilton Tiger-Cats Wall of Fame. A free agent again after the 1997 season season, Darren signed with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and formed a deadly partnership with QB Danny McManus for five seasons from 1998 to his retirement in 2002.
In fact Flutie follows his QB on to the Wall, with McManus being inducted last October. Flutie is the 26th person to make the wall.
His career in Hamilton saw him end up as the ticats sixth ranked receiver in franchise career receptions and receiving yards, fifth in single-season receptions and seventh in single-season receiving yards.
He started his career in Hamilton with 4 straight 1000+ yard receiving seasons, and was only 71 yards shy of that mark in his final season playing with the team in 2002.
Between 1998 and 2002 he played in 86 games for the tabbies, delivering 409 catches for 5,796 yards and 26 touchdowns.
He was also a key part of the last time that Hamilton won the Grey Cup, back in 1999.
Darren Flutie – the final tally
Darren Flutie finished his CFL career with 972 catches for 14,359 yards and 66 touchdowns. He retired with the most playoff receptions (185), and sits fifth all-time for receptions and 4th all time for career yardage.
Flutie also played in 14 playoff and Grey Cup games, where he caught 75 passes for 1,500 yards and 11 touchdowns.
He was named a CFL All-Star in 1996, 1997 & 1999. As well as being a West All-Star in 1994, 1996 & 1997, and an East All-Star in 1998 & 1999.
Flutie was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2007.
Beyond the wide receivers
Special teams players we have looked at have included kickers Paul Osbaldiston, Lui Passaglia, Bob Cameron and Dave Cutler. As well as legendary returners Michael “Pinball” Clemons and Henry ‘Gizmo’ Williams.
On the quarterbacking front we have looked at the likes of Damon Allen, Ron Lancaster, Tom Wilkinson, Tracy Ham, Tom Clements, Dieter Brock and Sam Etcheverry.
Not to mention defensive superstars such as Wayne Harris, Willie Pless, Angelo Mosca, Dickie Harris, Norm Fieldgate, Jim Corrigall, and Bill Baker.
While the backs we looked at were legendary too. Including Kelvin Anderson, Charles Roberts, George Reed, Johnny Bright, & the legendary Mike Pringle.
Players make the game and great players make up part of the rich fabric of the history fo the game. So if you want to know more why not pick some out and take a look?
Banner Image: Darren Flutie with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Image from 3Downnation.com