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Boston (AFP) - Former NFL and US college star quarterback Doug Flutie's parents died within an hour of each other on Wednesday morning after being married for 56 years.

In a Facebook posting, the former NFL, Canadian Football League and Boston College standout said that his father, Richard Flutie, died of a heart attack in the hospital followed by his mother, Joan, who passed away with a heart attack a short time later.

"They say you can die of a broken heart and I believe it," Flutie wrote. "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.

"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."

The 1984 Heisman Trophy winner as the top collegiate player in American football, Flutie played 12 seasons in the NFL and eight more in the Canadian league. He now serves as a television commentator and is set to work Saturday's Boston College-Notre Dame game at Boston's Fenway Park.

"Our hearts go out to the Flutie family, all of whom are in our prayers," Boston College tweeted Wednesday.

Video of Flutie making a long desperation touchdown pass on the final play of a game to beat Miami has become iconic in American sports television. Monday marks the 31st anniversary of the epic play.

Flutie, 53, began his NFL career with the Chicago Bears in 1986 and spent the next three seasons with the New England Patriots before departing for Canada, where he played for the British Columbia Lions, Calgary Stampeders and Toronto Argonauts.

He won Grey Cup championships with Calgary in 1992 and Toronto in 1996 and 1997, each time claiming Grey Cup Most Valuable Player honors. He was the CFL's Most Outstanding Player a record six times.

Flutie returned to the NFL in 1998 with the Buffalo Bills and also played for San Diego before returning to New England in 2005 for his final season.

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