Ronald Reagan picture

Remarks on Congratulating Doug Flutie, the 1984 Heisman Trophy Winner

December 06, 1984

The President. Fifty years ago Jay Berwanger, of the University of Chicago, was a powerful halfback and a hero to millions of football-loving Americans, including a certain sportscaster named Dutch Reagan. In 1935 he won a new award, the Heisman Trophy, and a great American tradition was born.

The list of Heisman Trophy winners reads like an honor roll. There was Nile Kinnick, of Iowa, who was a brilliant running back and true patriot, who gave his life during World War II. There were the great young men of Notre Dame—Angelo Bertelli, John Lujack, and others who kept on going out there for the Gipper. In recent years we've seen players set new standards of excellence—champions like Earl Campbell, Herschel Walker; last year's trophy winner, Mike Rozier. And this year there's a young man who stands in a class by himself—Doug Flutie.

When Doug Flutie arrived on the Boston College campus in 1981, he was just a fourth-string quarterback. And since that time, he has put together the most prolific passing career any major college quarterback has ever had. He's given us fans a host of moments to remember, including a play during the final seconds of this year's Boston College-Miami game that will go down in football history.

With the score of Miami, 45, as you all well know, B.C., 41, and just seconds left on the clock, Doug took the snap, dropped back, and with the clock at zero, he fired a sky-high, 65-yard pass right—arched into the end zone and right into the hands of Boston College receiver Gerard Phelan.

B.C. won the game; Doug Flutie won our eternal admiration. And for 50 years the Heisman Trophy has stood for loyalty, courage, teamwork, and a ceaseless striving for excellence.

And, Doug Flutie, it's an award that you richly deserve. Congratulations, and God bless you.

Mr. Flutie. Thank you very much. It's indeed an honor for myself to be here in the presence and having the opportunity to meet the President. And thank you very much for your comments.

I'm excited to be here at the White House. And it is a great opportunity for my whole family, also.

I'd like to welcome the fellows from Gonzaga High School and wish you all the luck in the future. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me. The Heisman Trophy is something that means a lot, and it's something that I never would have expected. And as for you guys, if you can dream it, it's possible. I never could have dreamed winning the Heisman or being here in this situation. And it's something I'll treasure for the rest of my life.

Thank you.

Mr. Reinauer. Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, it is an honor to be here today. And I'd like to inform everyone in honoring Heisman's 50th of the Downtown Athletic Club, for the first time in award history, we have made a reduced replica to bring to Washington today.

Mr. President, on behalf of the Downtown Athletic Club of New York and the Heisman Trophy Committee, it is a pleasure to make you an honorary Heisman winner.

The President. That's better than an Oscar. [Laughter]

Mr. Reinauer. Remember when we met you in New York and you came over with Archbishop O'Connor, you said, "Don't forget I played guard at Eureka." [Laughter]

The President. Yes. Well, thank you very much. I'm very pleased and proud to have this. I'm not even going to put it back down on the table. [Laughter]

Thank you all.

Note: The President spoke at 11:05 a.m. in Room 450 of the Old Executive Office Building.

Harold Reinauer is president of the Downtown Athletic Club.

Ronald Reagan, Remarks on Congratulating Doug Flutie, the 1984 Heisman Trophy Winner Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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