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It's official: Flutie signs with Buffalo

BUFFALO -- His hair is longer with a touch of gray, the creases in his face deeper. Other than that, not much has changed since Doug Flutie last played in the NFL.

After signing a two-year contract with the Buffalo Bills, Flutie wound up answering the same questions Tuesday that have followed him throughout his career.

Is he tall enough to play in the NFL? He was introduced by the Bills standing 5-foot-9 -- and that's wearing one-inch heeled cowboy boots.

"All I know is that I played the game at my height all my life. I know no different," Flutie said. "This is a game. It's football. I know one way to play it."

Over the last eight years in the Canadian Football League, Flutie was named the league's most valuable player six times and took the Toronto Argonauts to the Grey Cup title the last two years.

In the last two seasons, he completed 64 percent of his passes for 11,225 yards, 76 touchdowns and 41 interceptions as the CFL's marquee player. He was expected to make about $1.1 million in Canadian currency (about $700,000 U.S.) next year had he signed another contract with the Argos.

"I'm taking a risk, no question about it," Flutie said. "Right now, my decision is not about money. It's about playing football and having fun. The CFL put the fun back in football for me. I'm not going to let anybody take the fun out of it for me ever again."

Flutie became a folk hero after winning the Heisman Trophy with Boston College in 1984, but his NFL career never took off after stints with Chicago and New England. He played well at times with both teams, but the knock on him has been that he is too short to be effective.

"Doug has been fighting the height problem his whole life, and he's always won," said Bills personnel director A.J. Smith, who scouted Flutie. "He's a better football player with the Buffalo Bills than when he left (the NFL). Is he the exception to the rule? We're about to find out."

The Bills have not had a steady quarterback since Jim Kelly retired last February. Last season, Buffalo brought in Billy Joe Hobert to challenge first-year starter Todd Collins in an experiment that failed miserably.

Collins was yanked twice from the starting role and replaced both times by Alex Van Pelt. Hobert was released during the season after admitting he didn't study his playbook before a game.

The Bills were looking for a mobile quarterback in hopes of competing with fast, blitzing defenses that have been built around the league. They would probably need to install two offenses to suit Flutie and Collins, who went to rival high schools in Massachusetts but arnine years apart in age.

"The last time I talked to Todd Collins, he was in high school and I was with the New England Patriots," Flutie said. "We were talking about what colleges he was going to (attend). We're all professionals. When it comes to training camp, we'll line up and start competing."

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