Matt Dunigan - Quarterback - 1990-91 - Louisiana Tech
Matt Dunigan joined the Toronto Argonauts in 1990. Under new head coach Don Matthews the Argonauts had an outstanding season on offence. Dunigan led the offence for 8 games but missed 10 due to injury. The team average 38.8 points in the revamped Matthews offence. Rickey Foggie started in place of the injured Dunigan for 10 games in 1990 and sophomore running back Michael "Pinball" Clemons set the league record for combined yards over 3,300. Clemons was named the leagues Most Outstanding Player. Dunigan was the toast of Toronto despite the injuries throwing 17 touchdowns in the limited action.
Dunigan returned in 1991 under the new ownership regime of Bruce McNall, John Candy and Wayne Gretzky. It was a dream season in Toronto with the arrival of Notre Dame superstar Raghib "Rocket" Ismail. Don Matthews was replaced as head coach with Adam Rita the teams offensive co-ordinator in 1990. The Argonauts averaged over 38,000 fans a game at Skydome with all the glitz and glamour of Hollywood star power included. Dunigan suffered through a variety of injuries again in '91 limited to just 8 games yet again. He passed for 16 touchdowns and 2,011 yards on the year but Dunigan's true value would come in the playoffs. In front of a sell-out crowd for the Eastern Final of over 51,000 at Skydome Toronto trounced Winnipeg 42-3. Dunigan suffered a separated shoulder in the game throwing 2 touchdowns and his status for the Grey Cup the following weekend in frigid Winnipeg versus Danny Barrett and the Calgary Stampeders was not certain.
Truly part of Grey Cup lore, the story continues that while in Winnipeg for Grey Cup week at the hotel the Argonauts were staying, the teams coaches including Adam Rita had Dunigan throw passes in the Hotel ballroom to test the injury. The result was positive as Dunigan was a surprise starter with the shoulder frozen, and re-frozen at half time for the coldest Grey Cup in history. Toronto was victorious 36-21 over Calgary with Dunigan as the unquestionable leader of the team throwing two touchdowns and leading team through pure grit and determination.
He was the greatest quarterback in the Country and the greatest leader in the game at the time. The work ethic and all-out commitment for victory rubbed off on his teammates; Clemons, Ismail, Masotti, Chomyc and was reflected in their admiration for him as a leader.
After the dizzying high of a Grey Cup victory and a dream season the reality of what the trip had cost the new owners hit home in the off-season and specifically salary negotiations with Dunigan. Promises made previously to Dunigan regarding a new deal were not followed through on and the Argo's, looking to scale back the lavish spending of 1991, decided to play hardball while negotiating with Dunigan. The decision backfired and Matt left the club to join Winnipeg as a free agent.
While he only manage 16 regular season games in two seasons with the club, Matt Dunigan certainly left his mark as a Toronto Argonaut. The sacrifice and resolve shown by Dunigan in the Argonauts 1991 Grey Cup victory lasts as a defining moment in club history.
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