Marty York is one of Canada's most popular sports columnists with a track record for breaking big stories.
Published February 10, 2006
Flutie fiddling could cost â€™Gades
The NFL is conducting an investigation to determine whether the owner of the Ottawa Renegades was guilty of tampering with a player under contract to the New England Patriots, football sources have told Metro.
Not just any player, either. Renegades owner Bernie Glieberman entertained Doug Flutie at his private luxury box last Sunday at Ford Field, where the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XL. Dougâ€™s younger brother Darren, who is retired as a player and has spent the past two seasons as a colour commentator on CFL games for CBC, also spent the day in Gliebermanâ€™s box. And no problem with that. But Doug is on the Patriotsâ€™ payroll and does not officially become a free agent until early March. Thereâ€™s an agreement between the CFL and NFL that clearly forbids CFLers from talking contract â€? and from even discussing what-if scenarios â€? with NFLers until they officially become free agents.
At 43, Doug Flutie almost certainly will become a free agent, and sources tell me he wouldnâ€™t mind returning to the CFL to double as a quarterback and assistant coach under Ottawaâ€™s new head coach, John Jenkins â€? as long as the â€™Gades also sign Darren.
Darren ranks as one of the top receivers in CFL history, while Doug is generally viewed as the greatest player in the leagueâ€™s history.
Doug played for the Argonauts when Jenkins was their offensive co-ordinator and when the team was setting records and winning Grey Cups in the mid-1990s. Sources tell me Jenkins believes Doug, even at his age, could improve the Renegadesâ€™ offence. The signing of the Fluties, of course, also would improve the Renegadesâ€™ attendance figures.
And so, yes, the club will pursue Doug (and Darren) diligently next month.
But the question is: Will the NFL come down hard on the CFL and Glieberman if it concludes in its investigation that the Ottawa owner tampered with Doug?
Glieberman insists he committed no wrongdoing and has been telling anyone who asks him that he spoke to Flutie about the idea of working for his construction company in Michigan, but NFL officials arenâ€™t buying that. At least, not at this point.
There have been rumblings of Flutieâ€™s return to Canada in the past but there appears to be substance to them now because his appeal to NFL clubs clearly has diminished. In the CFL, however, experienced players in their 40s can sometimes excel. Case in point: Argonauts quarterback Damon Allen, last yearâ€™s MVP and a year younger than Doug.
So donâ€™t be surprised to see the Doug-and-Darren Show in Ottawa next season under Jenkins.
And donâ€™t be surprised as well if Glieberman gets at least a slap on the wrist from the powers-that-be in both the NFL and CFL.
Marty Yorkâ€™s column appears Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday
[url=http://www.metronews.ca/column_york_report.asp?id=13949&cid=10223]http://www.metronews.ca/column_york_rep ... &cid=10223[/url]