Twenty-six years ago this month, Lake Highlands High School alum Matt Dunigan set a pro football record destined to remain unbroken. On July 14, 1994, he threw 713 yards for the Canadian Football League’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers and secured a place in history as one of the CFL’s all-time greatest passers.
Dunigan raised eyebrows Tuesday when he tweeted about his first CFL team, the Edmonton Eskimos. Shortly after Edmonton announced they will change the name considered by some to be insulting to Inuit people, Dunigan sent out a message in apparent support of the team’s original moniker.
“Never forget where U came from,” Dunigan tweeted. “It all started in Edmonton in ’83. Hell, I even got married to my best friend, Kathy in the Green & Gold Room in ’84. I cut my teeth & learned how to be a PRO from the 5-in-a-row Dynasty Boys. One last time! Once an Eskimo, Always an Eskimo.”
Much like the Washington Redskins were pressured by sponsors who threatened to cut ties with the NFL team, Edmonton officials have faced criticism over their chosen mascot. They previously defended the term, used by the team since 1949, as a tribute to the native Inuits’ “toughness, hardiness and the ability to perform in cold weather.” Others argue it’s derogatory and harkens back to a colonial era.
“It isn’t right for any team to be named after an ethnic group,” said Natan Obed, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, which represents Canada’s 60,000 Inuit. Obed has said that Inuit people are not mascots.
The team will be known as the EE Football Team until they determine a new name, club officials announced.
“Our team has a long history of winning – both on and off the field – and we will continue to do so going forward,” said Janice Agrios, chair of the team’s board of directors. “Going forward we want the focus to be on the work we do in the community and our team’s excellence on the field as the CFL’s most successful franchise.”
Dunigan, meanwhile, remains one of the CFL’s favorite all-time players, with a career 43,857 passing yards and 303 passing touchdowns. He was elected to the CFL Hall of Fame in 2006 and the Louisiana Tech Hall of Fame at his college alma mater in 2011.