At an age when most football players start breaking down, Doug Flutie was just getting started.
CFL fans, especially those in Calgary, were fortunate to watch the quarterback perform in his prime.
Flutie, who retired yesterday after 21 years as a pro, was 29 in 1992 when he signed with the Stamps for four of the greatest consecutive seasons in the franchise's history.
"Doug had some of greatest moments in the eight years following (his 30th birthday)," Wally Buono, Flutie's coach in Calgary, said over the telephone yesterday.
"I would put him up there with the greatest players who have ever played. You would be hard-pressed to find someone who could put up those numbers in the eight years he played and who was as dominant as Doug.
"When you consider he did it with three different CFL teams (B.C., Calgary and Toronto), it speaks volumes about his great talent and his desire to bring people up with him."
Flutie's CFL numbers speak for themselves: Six most outstanding player awards, 41,355 career passing yards in eight seasons and the record for most touchdown passes in a single year (48).
He left Canada in 1998 to rekindle an NFL career and proceeded to make the CFL look better and better with every outing.
After re-entering the NFL with the Buffalo Bills, Flutie's game-breaking heroics opened the door for other CFL pivots, including Jeff Garcia, Dave Dickenson and Henry Burris to take their shot down south.
Former Stamps centre Jamie Crysdale said Flutie was a great ambassador for the CFL.
"He was a huge advocate for us because he reminded people we weren't bush league -- that good players were here," said Crysdale, who played two seasons with Flutie and was amazed at his agility.
"He was never fast in the 40-yard dash but he never got hit. He was like Gretzky that way. He knew how to avoid taking big hits. That's why he was able to prolong his career."
Flutie would never give up on a play or a drive and often could make something out of nothing with his scrambling ability.
Of the 43-year-old's great CFL moments, former Stamps receiver Dave Sapunjis points to the 1992 West final, where Calgary was trailing the Edmonton Eskimos late in the game.
Once Flutie got the ball with very little time on the clock, he led the team on the game-winning drive, capped by his own naked bootleg into the endzone. He lost his cleat before getting across the goal-line.
Calgary went on to beat Winnipeg in the Grey Cup game -- Calgary's first title in 21 years.
"There are so many individual plays and games that made it really special playing with him but that was one of the most memorable, how he elevated his game," said Sapunjis.
"But in the Grey Cup, Doug just dominated the game."
When receiver Vince Danielsen broke in during the 1994 season, Flutie led such a commanding offence that the Stamps were pounding teams to the point of embarrassment and having a great time doing it.
"Doug was a guy who made you feel like you were playing with a kid on the playground," Danielsen said. "He stuck within the system but he would improvise and go outside the system to huge benefits."
Despite his retirement, football will still have Flutie. He has taken a job with ABC and ESPN to work college games as an analyst.
The Massachusetts native went out the way he wanted: Playing a final season with his hometown New England Patriots and entertaining fans with the first NFL drop-kick in 64 years.
"It's just been a fun run for me," Flutie said.
"It's given me great thrills. It's not a right to play professional football. It's a privilege."