Doug Flutie, aerial author of one of the most memorable plays in college football history, lost both of his parents within less than an hour of one another Wednesday.
“It is with a heavy heart that I am making this statement,” the former Boston College quarterback wrote on Facebook. “This morning my family experienced the tragic loss of my father, Dick and mother, Joan. My Dad had been ill and died of a heart attack in the hospital and my Mom, less than an hour later had a sudden heart attack and passed away. They say you can die of a broken heart and I believe it.”
Flutie played for the New Jersey Generals in the USFL before stints with the Bears and Patriots in the NFL. He then competed for nearly a decade in Canada, reuniting with brother Darren, breaking several CFL records, capturing three Grey Cups, and winning the Most Outstanding Player award six times. The NFL again took notice of the Heisman Trophy winner they had overlooked. He enjoyed successful stints as a fan favorite in Buffalo and San Diego before finishing out his career at home for the New England Patriots. In every venue, experts questioned whether the player’s height and mobility would handicap him. As Tom Brady’s backup, Flutie, with Bill Belichick’s blessing, dropkicked an extra point, the first such event in the NFL since before Pearl Harbor, in his last professional game on New Year’s Day of 2006.
“My parents were always there for their children, from the days my Dad coached us as kids and my Mom would work the concession stands, through to this morning,” Flutie wrote on Facebook. “The most important part of their 56 years of marriage was providing opportunities to their children.”
Scientists dub the phenomenon of one partner dying suddenly as a result of the stresses of losing a spouse “Broken Heart Syndrome.” In 2011, Marcus Ringrose died of a heart attack a day after eulogizing his wife, the actress Mary Tamm, who played Romanadvoratrelundar on Doctor Who alongside Tom Baker. Will and Aerial Durant, authors of the 11-volume Story of Civilization, joined one another in the grave within weeks of one another after nearly seven decades joined in marriage, though old age, rather than the Broken Heart Syndrome that likely claimed Mr. Ringrose and Mrs. Flutie, served as the cause.