Matt Dunigan - Quarterback - 1983-87 - Louisiana State
His first pass in the Canadian Football League was intercepted but that did not stop Matt Dunigan from going on to become one of the greatest quarterbacks in league history and leave an indelible mark with fans of the Canadian game.
The Louisiana native joined the Edmonton Eskimos in 1983 and after a season as understudy behind Warren Moon, Dunigan was thrust into the starting role in 1984 and never looked back. He threw for 21 touchdowns his first season completing nearly 60% of his passes as starter and rushed for 9 more and over 700 yards.
It was a tall order for Dunigan to replace the Eskimo legend Moon and lead a team coming 1 year removed from a 5 in a row championship run. Dunigan would admit later that in learning the Canadian game he spent the first few years of his career playing by the seat of his pants. This improvisational ability proved productive and successful as Dunigan learned the nuances of Canadian Football.
The swashbucking quarterback played with reckless abandon and a confident attitude that endeared himself to teammates and fans. Blessed with a strong arm and good instincts as a runner the Louisiana Tech product had his finest season with Edmonton in 1986 with over 3,600 yards passing and 25 touchdowns.
In 1987 Dunigan would suffer from injuries that would limit his playing time and open the door for back-up Damon Allen to gain valuable experience. The Eskimos would advance to the Grey Cup in 1987 to face the Toronto Argonauts. Dunigan struggled and was replaced by Allen in the second half who would lead the Eskimos to a Grey Cup victory. It was Duniganís first Grey Cup as a player but it was Allen who had brought the team back in the game.
With his contract up and with Allen waiting in the wings Dunigan moved on to British Columbia in 1988 for the next chapter of his great career.
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