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Friday, October 14, 2011
Statue at BC commemorates Flutie pass

By Jack McCluskey
ESPNBoston.com

NEWTON, Mass. -- Neither rain nor snow, heat nor stinging sleet stops the man from rearing back to deliver his famous throw.

Of course, this bronze version of Doug Flutie never actually completes that incredible throwing motion, either.

Instead, the larger-than-life version of the man stands outside Alumni Stadium, always just about to author the most iconic moment in Boston College athletic history.

Doug Flutie
This statue of Doug Flutie sits outside BC's Alumni Stadium.

"That's almost embarrassing," Flutie said of the statue, which depicts the QB with his front foot raised and his arm cocked to deliver the Hail Mary pass to Gerard Phelan that beat Miami in his Heisman season of 1984. "It was very exciting. It's cool to think that that'll be there for years to come and generations of kids will come through and see it."

The man who sculpted the statue, the renowned Harry Weber, actually did two versions: the one that was eventually selected and another, of Flutie after he had released the ball.

"They just figured it was a little more iconic," Weber said by phone of the selected version, "his hand is probably six inches off the ground. It probably more represented the spirit of the Hail Mary pass."

Weber has quite the catalog, including many great sports pieces. His Flutie statue is one of two that commemorate iconic sports moments in Boston. He also did "The Goal," honoring Bobby Orr's Stanley Cup-winning goal in 1970.

"Boston has two of the most iconic images in sports," Weber said. "I'm really lucky to have done both of them."

When he's working on a statue, Weber says he gets really into his subjects. That meant he became quite the BC fan for the Flutie piece.

A bronze sculpture generally takes between six and nine months to make, and to create the one that stands in Chestnut Hill, Weber had to do a lot of work just to get the image right.

"It's probably the top college moment in terms of football," he said. "If there had been better videotape coverage I'm sure it would be more so. The only images I had to play with were very long shots."

A lack of high-quality video presents a problem to a sculptor trying to create a three-dimensional figure.

"I had to make enhanced images and basically play around with the morphology of it," he said. "I had to say, 'If it looks like that from this angle, what's it gonna look like from the other angle?'"

The result is an enduring representation of the instant before arguably the school's biggest moment, the one that put BC on the map nationally and catapulted Flutie to fame, if not the Heisman, for which the majority of the voting had already finished.

Today, fans of opposing teams make a point to seek it out and take turns mimicking the unorthodox motion for photos. What better way to commemorate a trip to Boston College?

Well, there might be one better way, but it's more expensive. In the BC campus shop, eight-inch versions of the statue sell for $300.

"I look at stuff like that and I think of it as representing a time when we helped the football program turn a corner," Flutie said of the statue. "Not necessarily me, but us as a group. As a group, we take a lot of pride in that era."

So as time marches on, as new generations of players and fans come and go -- and HD TV makes the somewhat grainy footage of that famous play look even more antiquated -- there will forever stand a monument to the moment many say started it all.

No matter what the climate is like around it, the bronze quarterback remains ready to make history.

Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com.