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Jets Hope To Contain Nifty Flutie

The New York Jets probably won't breakfast on Flutie Flakes on Sunday. They wouldn't mind devouring the cereal's namesake a few hours later, however.

Doug Flutie is just the kind of quarterback who gives the Jets fits. New York has lost to San Francisco and Steve Young this season. Tony Banks and St. Louis beat the Jets, too.

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  • Now, with a piece of first place on the line against the Buffalo Bills, the key ingredient for the Jets is clamping down on Flutie.

    "We've got to be on our toes for sure," said Jets cornerback Otis Smith, who expects to do some chasing on Sunday. "You have to be alert to every situation, because he can create so much.

    "He's doing a really good job since he's back in the NFL and he deserves to be up there. But I won't put him in a class with John Elway. If he continues on the road he's on, he can take them a long way."

    The Blls have won five consecutive games after opening with three losses. They're in a four-way tie with the Jets, Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots atop the AFC East. On Wednesday, Flutie was given the first-string job for the long term. He replaced starter Rob Johnson and engineered four of the victories.

    Flutie carries a 9-0 record into Giants Stadium, counting college, the USFL and one victory with the New England Patriots in his first NFL incarnation.

    Jets linebacker Pepper Johnson hardly is surprised by Flutie's success. The 13-year veteran figures ability always will shine, whether it's in the CFL, where Flutie was a six-time Most Outstanding Player, or the NFL.

    "Flutie is a guy who has been victimized by hearsay," Johnson said of the AFC's leading passer, barely ahead of the Jets' own reclamation project, Vinny Testaverde. "He's been hurt by the idea a short quarterback can't play in the league, instead of evaluating each guy. He got labeled.

    "So he spent eight years in the Canadian league and was the MVP and was winning (three) championships.

    "I'm quite sure he can do it over here. The game does not change so much. If you have a talent, you have a talent. It's not like he didn't have success before."

    Johnson is not the only Flutie fan on the Jets. Receiver Wayne Chrebet, who at 5-foot-10 claims he "towers over" Flutie, also listed at 5-10, is an admirer.

    "He's a lot smaller than me, but I can relate and he definitely has quieted the critics," Chrebet said. "You can't believe heights and weights make the player. You look at someone walking down the street and you say, 'You should be a basketball player because you're tall,' or 'You should be a football player because you're big.' That's a misconception.

    "You can't look at the heart a guy has. Doug Flutie has a big heart."

    Glenn Foley, the Jets' backup quarterback, also played at Boston College, where Flutie won the 1984 Heisman Trophy. Foley remembers watching the game on television when Flutie's desperation pass to Gerard Phelan beat Miami at the buzzer.

    "My dad played quarterback for BC," Foley said. "We were a family of BC fans. My dad was sitting eating dinner and he nearly choked on his food.

    "Doug was an idol of mine. I was 12 or 13 years old when he won the Heisman. He probably influenced me as much as anybody to be a quarterback."

    All of tat admiration ends when the game begins Sunday.

    "I'm waiting until Sunday to eat my Flutie Flakes," Johnson said with a hungry smile.

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