The only flakes floating around football today are the folks who no longer believe in the Curse of Doug Flutie.
The Curse is alive and well and stronger than ever, casting its web of defeat around anyone who employs the architect of the Curse, Wade Phillips, and rewarding those teams that free itself of his shackles of ignorance.
If you didn't believe in the Curse before, this is a good time to grab an oboe or sousaphone and hop on the bandwagon. After all, some phenomena are beyond the explanation of logic, science, human perception or, even, the blind, sober reasoning of the Cold, Hard Football Facts.
The Curse of Flutie is just such a phenomenon. It had a hand in both divisional playoff games Sunday, lifting San Diego to an upset victory at No. 2 AFC seed and defending Super Bowl champion Indy, and squashing the hopes of No. 1 NFC seed Dallas in historic fashion.
Most Cold, Hard Football Facts readers know the story:
The Curse of Flutie was born back in the 1999 playoffs and continues to haunt the Buffalo organization and any team or coach that employs Phillips.
San Diego employed Phillips from 2004 to 2006 – a period during which the Chargers failed to win a playoff game and suffered two humiliating postseason losses at home to inferior foes. In the 2004 wildcard playoffs, Chargers kicker Nick Kaeding missed an easy 39-yard field goal in overtime, allowing the underdog Jets to pull out a shocking 20-17 victory in San Diego. Last year, the Chargers were 14-2, the AFC's No. 1 seed and undefeated at home when they suffered an improbable 24-21 loss to a 12-4 New England team that did everything in its power to lose (including three picks thrown by Tom Brady) but somehow came out on the winning end.
Now, without Phillips on its coaching staff, the Chargers are in the AFC title game for the first time in 13 years.
Dallas employed Phillips this year. They ruled the NFC from wire to wire and entered the playoffs as the senior circuit's No. 1 seed. They, too, failed to win a single playoff game, suffering a home loss to the No. 5 seed Giants, a team that Dallas beat twice in the regular season.
Phillips poured all of the ingredients for the Curse of Flutie into his steaming brew kettle of stupidity back in 1999, when he was Buffalo's head coach. It was at the end of that season that he benched Flutie, Buffalo's starting quarterback, right before the playoffs, despite the fact that the famously diminutive passer had led the Bills to a 10-5 record.
The Curse of Flutie wasted no time casting its tragic web of inexplicable defeat upon Buffalo and anyone associated with Phillips.
The Bills held a late lead over Tennessee in their first playoff game after the illogical benching of Flutie. You know how it ended: the Titans used some controversial razzle-dazzle to score on a kick return with no time left, in a play so inexplicable it's known only as "The Music City Miracle."
The Bills have never been back to the playoffs. In fact, they've never matched the 10 wins Flutie produced for Buffalo back in 1999. And, as one Cold, Hard Football Facts reader noted recently
, Flutie really stuck it to the Buffalo organization in his last game in a Bills uniform in 2000: he pitched the proverbial perfect game, completing 20 of 25 passes (80%) for 366 yards, 14.6 YPA, 3 TD, 0 INT, and a perfect 158.3 passer rating.
The Bills beat the Seahawks, 42-23, on the strength of Flutie's performance that day. Yet the team has matched or surpassed that 42-point output just twice in the 112 games it has played since that day. And no Buffalo passer has reproduced Flutie's perfect game of 2000.
Proof of the Curse of Flutie descended upon the football world again Sunday.
Free of the vindictive albatross that Phillips hung around the organization simply by his presence, the Chargers are riding high, ready to battle the perfect Patriots for a trip to the Super Bowl. Their win over Indy was the organization's biggest victory in 13 years.
The Cowboys, meanwhile, have been doomed by the Curse of Flutie since the day they hired Phillips. And if they didn't know it before, they know it today.
Since the NFL went to a 12-team playoff format in 1990, the NFC's No. 1 seed had never lost a divisional playoff game – winning 17 straight games against lower-seeded opponents.
Dallas became the first No. 1 seed to fall, with its 21-17 loss Sunday to the Giants.
(Oh, and for the record, one other team has employed Phillips since he benched Flutie: the Falcons. And maybe it's just us, but it seems they've kind of had some struggles of late.)
You can doubt the Curse if you choose. But to harbor this doubt after the Music City Miracle, Buffalo's eight years of futility, the rise of the Chargers without Phillips and the fall of the Cowboys with Phillips seems a little, well, flaky.