The worst mistake Doug Flutie ever made as a Patriot came in the seconds before kickoff against the Oakland Raiders in 2005.
Flutie, then Tom Brady’s backup quarterback, jogged up the ramp, past the Raiders bench, and across the field to the New England sideline. There, he realized the piece of paper he had been holding in his helmet was nowhere to be found. The paper listed the starter plays the Patriots offense was about to use to begin the game.
As the teams lined up for kickoff, Flutie sprinted across the field. He scurried around the Raiders bench until he found the list, then ran back once more to the comforts of the Patriots side.
“Everything Bill Belichick is about — with opposing teams, with loose lips and information — and here I am practically giving the Raiders our first 10 plays,” Flutie recently recalled on The Rich Eisen Show.
The Natick native and former Boston College star shared the anecdote after describing Belichick’s code of silence. Flutie noted he was amazed by how much information the Patriots head coach would take in early in the week as he prepared his game plan. Belichick had staff members poring over articles in search of quotes from the opposing locker room.
“The amount of information you can pick up from all the interviews the other players are doing, the things they say about a game plan,” Flutie said. “They don’t mean to be telling it, but there is a lot of information that’s given away.”
Belichick, of course, gives away no such secrets.
“That’s why Bill Belichick is the most boring interview in the country. Bill is not going to give you one thing. He’s going to get on top of his guys not to say a word. Be generic, be bland, don’t give away information — because there’s a ton of information to be given away.
“It amazed me — in their scouting reports and in their game plans — how detailed they could be and how right on they could be because of information that came out of a press conference.”
Flutie ended his 21-year professional football career as a member of the Patriots in 2005. His final play, at age 43, was a successfully executed drop kick, the NFL’s first since 1941. Flutie also offered an insight into what makes Tom Brady, a player he used to share a quarterbacks room with, so great.
Aside from the tireless work ethic and elite football intelligence, Flutie said that Brady had a knack for making everyone on the team feel important. He recalled Brady giving him credit for a word of advice that the starter had turned into a touchdown during a two-minute drill at the end of a game.
“He came straight off the field to me and said, ‘That’s yours,'” Flutie said. “Which is total B.S., because Tom knew — he’s done that 100 times before I got there — and knew. He would acknowledge any contribution by anyone on the team. It was pretty impressive.”