Former Bills QB Rob Johnson Has Strong Quotes About Doug Flutie
I started watching the Bills as a kid in 1999-2000. That was right around the time of what is arguably the greatest quarterback controversy in NFL history. Rob Johnson vs. Doug Flutie.
Many Bills fans had their guy, whether it was Johnson or Flutie. I was too young at the time to rightfully pick one, but I remember my dad and brother talking long about who should be the starter.
Rob Johnson was the young QB the Bills traded a first round pick for. He was traded from the Jacksonville Jaguars to the Bills in 1998 and the Bills gave him a new $25 million contract to be the Bills starter. Johnson was looked at as the future.
Then you had Doug Flutie, who the Bills also signed in 1998 after playing nearly a decade in Canada as one of the best players in CFL history. He was also known as the miracle man for Boston College after completing that amazing Hail Mary.
When you looked at Johnson and Flutie on paper, they couldn't be more opposite. Johnson was the prototypical QB in size and talent (big, strong arm). Flutie was undersized at just 5-foot-9 and was 35 years old when he signed with the Bills. Johnson was 25 at the time.
But anyone who watched those teams knows that Flutie was the more outgoing person who wasn't afraid to speak his mind and had all of Western New York in the palm of his hand with Flutie Magic, after leading the Bills to the 1998 playoffs after Johnson was hurt and couldn't win his job back.
Flutie was the main starter in 1999, but then after Johnson won the last game of the season against the Indianapolis Colts, head coach Wade Phillips said Johnson would start over Flutie in the Wild Card game against the Tennessee Titans. We all know how that game went.
After both quarterbacks played games in 2000, and the team barely missed the postseason, Flutie moved on to the San Diego Chargers and Johnson lasted one more (abysmal) year in 2001, before he too left.
Johnson was a quieter person and didn't often give the media much. However, a great article was just published by Tyler Dunne of Go Long. He talked one-on-one with Johnson and the former Bills QB didn't hold back when talking about his days with Flutie in Buffalo.
Johnson mentioned how Flutie was mad, because his stats weren't as good as Johnson's, and blamed it on Rob holding on to the ball too long to avoid incompletions.
"One thing that got Doug (Flutie) pissed, in the beginning, was that my stats were better than his. But he won more than me, said Johnson. So he’d say I held onto the ball too long — so I wouldn’t get incompletions and my stats would be better."
Johnson admits that stuff really bugged him and even confronted Flutie about it.
Johnson claimed Flutie didn't play well in the Jacksonville game, which everyone says is the game that started Flutie Mania in 1998. The Jaguars were undefeated at the time.
"Doug didn’t play well the whole game. He throws a Hail Mary. It’s like 16-10 in the fourth quarter and we have one last chance, said Johnson. They blow a coverage and allow a 50-yard bomb down the sidelines with like 20 seconds left. It’s part of his “magic.”"
This the the quote from the great Tyler Dunne story that caught my attention the most, and showed that Flutie and Johnson were not on the best of terms as teammates.
"That next year, he didn’t play really well and that bugged me because they wouldn’t put me back in, said Johnson. We had the No. 1 defense and he wasn’t very good. We sucked on offense. We were winning because of our defense and our run game. They put me in late in the year and that’s when I started in the playoffs."
I was just 8 or 9 when the Flutie vs. Johnson debate started. I wish I was at least five years older, because I could've appreciated it much more. I think Johnson's career was derailed in part because of injuries, but the controversy took a toll on everyone and what's a shame is the Bills teams in 1998 and 1999 could've went all the way. If they had gotten past the Titans. What could have been.
How about you? Were you a Flutie or Johnson guy?