What Doug Flutie remembers isn't the completed pass, the ecstasy of victory, the post-game celebration after his Hail Mary pass beat Miami on the road.

His most vivid recollections of that play are all about what happened before the snap.

"There's a picture of me after the completion in one of my offensive lineman's arms," Flutie says. "There's one of me in my brother's arms. ... I asked our strong safety who caught the ball. I have those memories pretty much only because of the pictures.

"The memories I have in my mind are being in the huddle. We had a pre-snap penalty that moved us back, and there were some other things that went on before the snap. That's what I remember."

Thirty years after Flutie's last-second Hail Mary produced a game-winning touchdown and a big win for Boston College, it's fitting that the quarterback's own recollection of the moment has been molded by the perceptions of millions of college football fans.

That play, affectionately nicknamed the 'Hail Flutie,' is a classic moment in college football history. But at the time, Nov. 23, 1984, Flutie and his teammates had no idea the masses would care.

"It's amazing to me because, in the moment, it was this once-in-a-lifetime win for our program," Flutie says. "This last-second miracle, it was exciting for us.

"Then we got back in town, and Boston is a pro sports town. But there were 10,000 people waiting for us at the airport. That's when we knew something had happened."

It wasn't just Boston that was captured by the moment. The entire country had been tuned in to watch Boston College-Miami at the Orange Bowl. The game was played on Thanksgiving Day weekend, and it pitted Heisman frontrunner Flutie against a Hurricanes program that fans, in his words, "loved to hate."

The game did not disappoint. A high-scoring affair brought both teams into the fourth quarter tied at 31. Bernie Kosar set a school record for 447 yards passing, and four touchdowns from running back Melvin Bratton had appeared enough to lift Miami to victory.

And then this happened:

"Hail Marys rarely happened back then," Flutie says now. "Today it's more common. Team have gotten so much better at drawing up Hail Mary's, putting guys in position and practicing the play. It was so rare, which is what made it special."

Just a few days after he connected with Gerard Phelan for that touchdown, Flutie was awarded the Heisman Trophy for the 1984 season. He's quick to point out that the Hail Mary didn't help him win: The ballots had already been cast before they played Miami.

Instead, Flutie views the Hail Mary as a collective moment shared by so many people -- not just himself and his teammates, and not even just Boston College fans. Wherever he goes, the Hail Flutie invariably gets brought up.

That type of crystallizing moment is also a throwback of sorts. In today's hectic media climate, Flutie doesn't think his defining play would make such big waves nationally.

"Everything being so regional now, a lot of people don't find out what happened in a single game until that night when they watch highlights, or when it comes across online," Flutie says. "So they end up reading it rather than seeing it, and then later see a highlight

"You’re not as attached to the moment when it’s that way."

Thirty years later, Flutie's life has come a long way. He spent more than 20 years playing professional football, in the USFL, CFL, and finally as a starter in the NFL. He founded the Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism and serves as an advisory board member for the Capital One Cup.

While a great achievement on its own, Flutie doesn't feel like his life would be any different if Gerard Phelan had dropped the pass in the end zone. Boston College could have lost and Flutie still would have won the Heisman before embarking on a long professional career.

Nonetheless, the Hail Flutie holds a special place in his heart.

"It’s a moment that you’re remembered by," Flutie says. "A lot of us [college football players], you play the sport, and then you get forgotten and move on.

"At least I had this one last moment."

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