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'You can die of a broken heart': NFL star Doug Flutie's parents die on same day

On Facebook, the Boston College and NFL star confirmed "with a heavy heart" that his father, Richard, and mother, Joan, both died Wednesday.
/ Source: TODAY

In a heartbreaking Facebook update, football star Doug Flutie announced that both of his parents suffered fatal heart attacks Wednesday morning.

"This morning my family experienced the tragic loss of my father, Dick and mother, Joan," the retired NFL quarterback, 53, posted Wednesday afternoon.

"My Dad had been ill and died of a heart attack in the hospital and my Mom, less than an hour later had a sudden heart attack and passed away. They say you can die of a broken heart and I believe it."

Thanking fans for their support and prayers, Flutie added that his parents were a constant source of support to him and his three siblings.

"My parents were always there for their children, from the days my Dad coached us as kids and my Mom would work the concession stands, through to this morning," Flutie wrote. "The most important part of their 56 years of marriage was providing opportunities to their children. They were incredible parents and Grandparents and my family and I will miss them both."

His sports colleagues and other celebrities were among the many to offer their condolences on Twitter.

As a Boston College football star, Flutie delivered a last-second, game-winning "Hail Mary" pass in a Nov. 23, 1984, contest against the defending-champion University of Miami, making the diminutive quarterback (listed at 5-foot-10) an instant pop culture icon leading up to his Heisman Trophy win.

In an era when NFL coaches often dismissed the value of mobile quarterbacks shorter than 6 feet, Flutie's brief stints with the Chicago Bears and New England Patriots didn't stop him from becoming perhaps the greatest Canadian Football League player of all time.

In 1998, he returned to the NFL, where he led the Buffalo Bills to the playoffs, started for the San Diego Chargers and backed up Tom Brady on the Patriots.

Since retiring from football in 2006, Flutie has worked as a broadcaster and been an advocate for his Flutie Foundation, a charity for families who are dealing with autism.

Follow writer Chris Serico on Twitter.