The invitation asking Quinton Porter to return to Boston College came out of the blue. The school where he felt the sharp edges of satisfaction and heartache wanted him to step onto its football field again in front of a game-day crowd.

Why? To hear the applause and cheers from appreciative fans. The moment was Sept. 20 when the University of Maine played Boston College in a nonconference game. Porter is a Maine native, a Portland High graduate, and for parts of two seasons was the Boston College starting quarterback.

After the first quarter that Saturday afternoon, Porter was escorted onto the turf. His presence was flashed on the stadium’s big video board. A list of accomplishments was announced and Porter was surprised there seemed to be so many.

He had big passing games against Brigham Young, Army and Virginia in 2005. He led the Eagles to a win over Joe Paterno’s Penn State team in Happy Valley in 2003, and later beat Notre Dame.

Boston College is New England’s most storied big-time college football program. Think of BC quarterbacks and Doug Flutie comes to mind first. Then there’s Matt Hasselbeck, who led the Seattle Seahawks to the 2005 Super Bowl and a loss to Pittsburgh. And Matt Ryan, now the Atlanta Falcons quarterback and the guy who replaced Porter with three games left in the 2005 season.

Porter never completed a full season at BC, but his 3,203 career passing yards are 10th all-time. He ranks ninth with 290 career completions, and his 2005 completion percentage (63.6) is third best.

“It felt nice and kind of sad,” Porter said on Friday, nearly a month later. “It meant my career is definitely over. It was telling me, ‘that’s a wrap.’ But you know, life is very good right now.”

Fourteen months ago he was on the roster of the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League. The Alouettes had won back-to-back Grey Cup championships and its coach, Marc Trestman, saw Porter becoming more and more invisible as the third-string quarterback of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Trestman beckoned and Porter went.

Then the Chicago Bears beckoned Trestman to become their new head coach in 2013, and suddenly Porter had less value with Montreal. He was released. After seven years of trying to find a home in professional football in the U.S., Europe and Canada, Porter came home to Portland to discover life after football.

Friday, he was working out of the Portland office of Zoomph, a start-up Internet social media marketing company headquartered in Reston, Virginia. The office has two well-used wooden desks supporting personal computers. The walls are bare, save for a large, generic map of the United States. The sense of newness was palpable.

Porter has a new colleague, Chris Treister, the former Portland High and University of Maine quarterback who played for a professional team in Italy after he completed work for his master’s degree in business administration at a university in Germany. Porter got his MBA from Boston College.

Life isn’t just good for Porter, it’s busy. He works with new clients in the sports and entertainment component of Zoomph. The New York Giants have signed up. The Washington Capitals, Washington Wizards and Baltimore Orioles are also clients. Boston College is now a client.

Several years ago, Porter started his own business and brought fellow athletes Kendrick Ballantyne and Raibonne Charles, among others, on board. The premise is to enhance the physical skill sets of young athletes while working with the mental and emotional aspects of performance.

You’ve heard of athletes being “in the zone” when everything seems so focused and fluid during the intensity of a game. Porter has been there, especially on one afternoon in 2008. He completed 27 of 32 passes for 429 and four touchdowns.

He also rushed for 42 yards and a touchdown on six carries, leading Hamilton to an upset of division-leading Montreal at home.

The Tiger-Cats were in Montreal the very next weekend to play the Alouettes again. Before he left for the stadium, Porter was in his room dealing with nerves and vomiting. He desperately wanted to be “in the zone” again and didn’t know if he could get there.

He didn’t because he couldn’t. It is the rare competitor who can. Porter knew he needed to relax his mind by freeing it while understanding his tendency to overthink. He is spiritual and practices meditation.

But how does someone flip that switch on demand consistently? Thursday night, Porter was at Gillette Stadium for the Patriots’ game against the New York Jets. He was a guest of a Portland attorney, and as they sat in a luxury box, Porter didn’t just watch Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, he tried to put himself in Brady’s head.

Not lost on Porter was the fact that Thursday night was his first time in Gillette since he stood on the sidelines in 2006 with the rest of his Houston Texans teammates, a backup to quarterback David Carr. In the fourth quarter, with the Patriots sitting on a big lead, Porter put on his helmet, waiting for the call to replace Carr. It never came.

Porter is redeveloping First Down Training. He has plans for something more comprehensive involving other sports. He has discussed his project with Joan Benoit Samuelson. Who understands the power of the mind more completely than her?

Porter turns 32 a few days after Christmas. He has a home in Scarborough with his wife and their two young children. The youngest of five Porter children, he has extended family around him.

He experienced what it’s like to lose his role as starting quarterback – at Boston College and in the CFL. More importantly, he lost his father. Michael Porter Sr. died while bringing his son back to the BC campus after a family wedding.

“I always get back up,” said Porter.


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