Doug Flutie decries bias against short quarterbacks

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One of the shortest quarterbacks in NFL history is speaking out against size discrimination.

Doug Flutie, the 5-foot-10 quarterback who played for the Bears, Patriots, Bills and Chargers (not to mention the New Jersey Generals, B.C. Lions, Calgary Stampeders and Toronto Argonauts) says it’s time for NFL coaches and general managers to forget about height when assessing quarterbacks. And he says that today’s generation of short quarterbacks are being held back by an obsession with size.

The biggest issue about the height factor is the bias that the NFL has about it,” Flutie told

Flutie said that for short quarterbacks, the problem isn’t that they can’t see over the line of scrimmage. The problem is that coaches don’t have faith in them and pull the plug as soon as something goes wrong.

“You see the game from that perspective and you throw the football,” Flutie said. “I really do not believe it’s a big deal. I just think that they don’t, in general, give the [short quarterbacks] the opportunities or stick with them. A guy that’s undersized has to prove himself right away. And if you don’t have success right away, you’re out the door.”

Flutie certainly got shortchanged by coaches at times in his own career, so it’s easy to see why he feels that way. The good news for those who want to see shorter quarterbacks given a chance is that the shortest quarterback to enter the NFL this year, Russell Wilson, appears to have landed on a team in Seattle where he’s going to be given a real opportunity to prove he can play. Even though he’s the same height as Flutie.

26 responses to “Doug Flutie decries bias against short quarterbacks

  1. One thing Flutie isnt SHORT on is opinions. Though this one seems to have some merit. His time in Buffalo could have gone better had Wade Phillips and Ralph Wilson not SHORT changed him.

  2. Tebow thinks it would be fun and exciting to give them a shot. Drew brees demands a further explanation from tebow which makes Vilma mad enough to take legal action against the NFL for retired players with brain damage. Goodell doesnt agree and leads him to fine retired brain damaged players. Welcome to the NFL

  3. C’mon guys…think about your job. The head coach picking his starting qb isn’t a popularity contest or about who looks bigger/taller in the pocket. If you can get the job done, you will play. The fact that more 6’5″ qbs start is a reflection of more 6’5″ qbs GETTING IT DONE in practice. Guys who play know that, and Flutie knows that as well.

  4. It’s good to hear Flutie say something other than “Follow the yellow brick road” over and over.

  5. icdogg says:Jul 5, 2012 6:16 PM

    It’s definitely a disadvantage. I see, for example, passes get batted down.


    Russell Wilson only had like 4 passes knocked down last year. Passes getting knocked down is more of a reflection on throwing mechanics, not height.

  6. “C’mon guys…think about your job. The head coach picking his starting qb isn’t a popularity contest or about who looks bigger/taller in the pocket. If you can get the job done, you will play. The fact that more 6’5″ qbs start is a reflection of more 6’5″ qbs GETTING IT DONE in practice. Guys who play know that, and Flutie knows that as well.”

    Read about his time in Buffalo.

    It’s shame that shorter guys don’t get fair shots. I think they ragged on Brees about his size too.

  7. doug flutie is the reason I lost all respect for jim mchman when he was with the bears. had he been a more supportive team mate maybe the bears would have won more with him at qb than tomzac when jimmy was always injured.

  8. Sure. The NFL also has a bias against weak, nerdy, mathletes, who can’t run. C’mon!!! This isn’t the explicit racism of the 50s and 60s. If short QBs were regularly better than taller QBs, the NFL would have no problem with it. But the bottom line is that it IS more difficult for short QBs to succeed–but it’s more difficult because they have physical limitations that make it so! Doesn’t mean some can’t overcome it. Just that most don’t! Let’s not forget, Flutie and Vick (two guys that come to mind who are relatively short) are also INSANE athletes. Flutie can dunk, for crying out loud–and is a borderline legendary hoops player. QB is hard enough to play in the NFL. Constantly having balls batted down (a common problem for Flutie), having to move around more to find throwing lanes, and generally having weaker arms (not always true, but often the case) are all legitimate reasons that are somewhat a function of height. Why do you think tall QBs with low releases always get downgraded by draft gurus? Cause they play like their 5’10” even if they’re 6’6″.

    I don’t doubt shorter QBs get a quicker hook than the prototype. But that’s a function of the fact they’re at such a disadvantage to begin with. It’s hard enough to develop a guy who’s 6’6″ with a laser rocket arm. Do you REALLY think it’s wise for teams to build around a 5’10” guy with a cream puff arm? It’s a probability game. The taller guy has more going for him, all else being equal. So the short guys have to show something special. That’s life!

    Incidentally, I’m rooting for Russell Wilson. But I wouldn’t bet on it.

  9. I looked it up and he’s right. There has never been an NFL quarterback under 5 feet tall.

    Also, there has never been an NFL quarterback over 7 feet tall.

    I think these issues warrant further investigation but it doesn’t look good.

  10. Drew Brees (< 6')
    Mike Vick (6')
    Rex Grossman (6')

    Steve Young (6')

    Do not agree. I thought Doug got jobbed in Chicago because the team favored McMahon, Fuller, and Tomczack.

    Doug was a Ditka guy and it led to his exile even though he helped QB that team to a 14-2 record.

    If you can play you will play. Even if you struggle to play. (Rex)

  11. You crazy kids…. how much NFL history is forgotten. If Flutie’s Chicago Bears beat the Redskins at Soldier Field in 86-87 season, there is a good chance Flutie would have beat the Phil Simms lead Giants on gone on to the Super Bowl. The 86 Bears would have smoked the Broncos. Despite his size, Flutie was a legitimate NFL QB. I would love to see PFT find a former teamate of Flutie’s to admit otherwise. I believe that if Russell Wilson is given the opportunity of the legitimate NFL QBs that has similar measurables, say Brees or Vick, Wilson will prove to be comparable.

  12. There’s the same bias against a QB over 6’5″. Actually you could say tall QBs have just as much bias going against them. Ideal height is 6’4″-6’5″. Then you will see a lot of guys 6’3″ & 6’2″. You will see guys even shorter than that once in awhile. It is rare to see a QB under 6′ though. But that is 4″ below ideal height. It is just as rare, maybe more rare to see a QB 6’6″ or over. Even though that is only 1″ above ideal height.

  13. Russell Wilson is the steel of the draft. He was the 3rd best QB in the draft (maybe even 2nd) and I am a disappointed Dolphins fan.

  14. Im with doug on this one…as long as you have some scrambling ability that would def help your cause. Problem is short qbs are a rarity so it will always be this way.

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