Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Heisman and the Hail Mary

Boston College recently unveiled a new statue that honors one of the Catholic school's "patron saints": Doug Flutie. The statue, outside Gate D of Alumni Stadium, immortalizes the singular moment that defined Flutie's career: the "Hail Mary" pass against Miami in 1984. The bronzed quarterback's right hand grips the football as he plants all his weight on his right leg. His arm is reared back as far as possible as he looks up to the heavens for some divine intervention as he gets ready to hurl the football with all his might like Zeus hurling a lightning bolt. This being a Jesuit college, we can say that the prayer was answered as the ball fell into the arms of Gerard Phelan to win the game. On the base of the statue is the radio play by play, which loses a bit of its luster being read rather than heard: "Touchdown! Touchdown! Touchdown! Touchdown, Boston College! He did it! He did it! Flutie did it!" 

If you want to relive the moment even more, check out the Hajjar Family Football Museum in the adjacent Yawkey Athletics Center. Inside, you can go to the video screen and watch the Hail Mary play and other great moments in BC football history (the grainy black and white film from the undefeated 1940 season is great). Display cases include individual and team trophies and memorabilia from the college's football programs. Also on display are the bowl game trophies won by the team. You'll notice the elaborate Diamond Walnut San Francisco Bowl and Carquest Bowl trophies dwarf those of the simple Sugar Bowl and Cotton Bowl trophies proving that the garishness of bowl trophies is inversely proportional to its importance. 

The highlight, though, is Flutie's Heisman Trophy, which greets you as soon as you enter the museum. The trophy may be the most iconic in American sport with its throwback leatherhead clutching the ball under his left arm as he gets ready to deliver a textbook stiff-arm with his right. Even though he's barely more than a foot tall, the trophy, which was awarded to Boston College along with another one for Flutie himself, still looks like he can punch a wallop. 

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