By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – One of the lasting images of 2001 remains a photograph, snapped by Mike Nowak, of then San Diego Charger quarterback Doug Flutie carrying the American flag out of the tunnel in the team’s first home game following the tragic events of 9/11.

Doug Flutie carries the American flag at San Diego Chargers first home game after the attacks on 9/11, (credit: Mike Nowak)

CBS Sports Central reporter Chris Hayre sat down with Flutie and Nowak, to talk about the events surrounding that day and a photograph that now sits in the Hall of Fame.

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Hayre: The first game back in San Diego, the iconic picture that Mike Novak took of you coming out of the tunnel with the American flag, do you remember those conversations leading into you being the one to lead the team out with the American flag?

Flutie: My first reaction was, “Absolutely. I’d love this,” and then I thought about it for a second and I’m like, “You know what, this is like my third game here. Shouldn’t Junior be doing this, Junior Seau?” I go, ‘This is Junior’s team,” and I went over to Junior, just before…during pregame and I said, “Do you want to run out with the flag?” and he said, “Nah, you do it. It’s a good thing. It’s right. You should do this,” and I’m like, “Okay,” you know, and I ran out. And when I came out of the tunnel, you got the helmet thing and the smoke and you’re coming out, and all of a sudden, I came out of the smoke and I got out of the tunnel. And I got this rush of energy. You could feel it inside of you, and I’m like, “This is nuts.” And it was just from the energy level, what it meant, what it meant to the people in the stands.”

Nowak: It just worked out that, you know, Doug came running out of this big cloud of smoke carrying the American flag and it was just caught, you know, out of the 15 frames that I shot or so, in this one frame. Doug is just suspended in mid-air and he’s away from the smoke and it’s kind of like a 3-D image almost. It was pretty special.

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Hayre: That photograph, Mike, is in the Hall of Fame. What does that photograph symbolize to you?

Nowak: As the title states, “Freedom.” It’s a powerful image. I mean, I look at it and I just remember the whole day. It was a powerful, powerful moment.

Flutie: That’s a pretty cool legacy, to have something that represents that time period, that represents that moment

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