For 194 regular-season games through 14 CFL seasons, quarterback Matt Dunigan was considered a linebacker who happened to play quarterback. Born Dec. 6, 1960, in Lakewood, Ohio, Dunigan's tenacity first showed in the CFL when the Louisiana Tech product joined the Edmonton Eskimos in 1983. After a year on the sidelines watching and learning from an Eskimo legend by the name of Warren Moon, Dunigan took over the reins and never looked back. Understanding the storied tradition and high expectations of the quarterbacks that once wore the Green and Gold, Dunigan set out to impress. In 1984 he did not disappoint. That year he captured the Molson Toughest Yard Award given to the player that exemplified heart, desire, determination, toughness, and the will to win by going the extra yard. This was just the tip of the iceberg for Edmonton faithful and CFL fans across the country. For four straight seasons the Esks record improved with Dunigan at the helm. Avenging a loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the 1986 Grey Cup, the Eskimos once again reigned supreme and captured the Cup in 1987.
That offseason, Dunigan agreed with the Edmonton Eskimos to part ways, but prior to the split Dunigan made a bold move and retired from the Canadian Football League and chased another childhood dream, professional baseball. Dunigan attended an open tryout with the Montreal Expos and was one of two ball players selected to sign a contract. Although Dunigan was having the time of his life, the end came too soon. There was some unfinished business north of the border and it was back to the gridiron. Dunigan then became part of a six-for-one player deal that sent him to the B.C. Lions.
Dunigan's impact was instantaneous. For the third time in three seasons, Dunigan would lead his to team to the championship game, but the Lions lost a heartbreaker 22-21 to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
After being the League's passing leader (331-for-597 for 4,509 yards) in 1989 he was in another blockbuster six for one player trade that sent him to the Toronto Argonauts. During Dunigan's first season with the Double Blue he helped guide the second most prolific scoring offense in the history of the Canadian Football League to 689 points or 38.3 points per contest. In fact Dunigan was quarterback for four of the top ten offences (points per game) in CFL history; no quarterback has done better. Dunigan led the Argonauts to the 1991 Grey Cup and despite a broken collarbone, threw two touchdown passes in a 36-21 victory over the Calgary Stampeders.
Dunigan became a free agent in 1992 and joined Winnipeg, where he spent three seasons. The Blue Bombers would return to power winning three consecutive Eastern Finals and appearing in two more Grey Cup games. While in Manitoba's capital, Dunigan would amass 85 more touchdown strikes and become the only quarterback to lead four different teams to the Grey Cup.
The expansion Birmingham Barracudas signed Dunigan as a free agent in 1995, where he set career bests with 362 completions on 643 attempts for 4,911 yards and 34 touchdown passes in only 14 games. Following Birmingham's demise, Dunigan joined the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and was 4-1 leading the team back to prowess before a concussion ended his career in Week 6. Upon his retirement, Dunigan was the only quarterback in CFL history to lead five different teams to winning records.
A five-time divisional All-Star (1985, 1988, 1993, 1994, 1995) and three-time CFL All-Star (1985, 1988, and 1995), Dunigan was his team's nominee as outstanding player five times and was the runner-up to as the league's outstanding player in 1993. When he retired Dunigan was second in all-time passing statistics (3,057 completions in 5,476 attempts for 43,857 yards and 306 touchdown passes) and still holds the professional record for most passing yards in a game (713 on July 14, 1994, in Winnipeg's 50-35 victory over Edmonton). In 1984 Dunigan ran for 732 yards, which was then a record for quarterbacks. Over his career he rushed 850 times for 5,031 yards and 77 touchdowns. Dunigan also played 19 postseason games, completing 226 of 372 passes for 3,326 yards and 19 touchdowns.
An active member in every community where he played, Dunigan was the Honorary Chairman for the Canadian Diabetes Association, Crimestoppers, and the Canadian Association for Community Living. He was also the spokesperson for Big Brothers and involved with the Variety Club, Special Olympics, Easter Seals, Uncles at Large, United Way and the Children's Hospital. Dunigan chaired and organized 3 charity golf tournaments: The Matt Dunigan Crimestoppers Classic, The Silver Arrow Mercedes Matt Dunigan Quarterback Classic, and The Matt Dunigan Superstar Extravaganza. The tournaments generated in excess of 150,000 dollars for local charities. Dunigan won the Tom Pate Memorial Award in 1989 for his off-field involvement.
Awards and Honours:
CFL All-Star (Quarterback) -- 1985, 1988, 1995
Division All-Star (Quarterback) -- 1985, 1988, 1993, 1994, 1995
Jeff Russel Memorial Trophy (East MVP) -- 1993
Tom Pate Memorial Award -- 1989
Winnipeg Football Club Hall Of Fame -- 2003
Grey Cup Participation -- 1986, 1987, 1988, 1991, 1992
Grey Cup Winning Teams -- 1987, 1991
|MATT DUNIGAN STATISTICS|