“I always said I would play ‘til the wheels fell off, and they basically did.”
Matt Dunigan remembers the game that ended his career. He was playing with the Canadian Football League’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats in September of 1996, having just made it to the sidelines after a series of big hits and pile-ups that saw the Ti-Cats run out of downs. It was a short reprieve for the quarterback who spent 13 years in the CFL; back on the field, under center, he was ear-holed on two consecutive plays.
“When I was helped off the field that day, I knew that my career was over with,” says Dunigan. “Something drastically had changed inside of me. I felt like my armor had been pierced wide open.”
Concussions have become a game changer in football as both the CFL and the NFL, where the sports’ biggest, baddest, and best play every Sunday, grapple how to handle its devastating effects that could very well threaten the leagues’ survival. But it’s the little league north of the 49th parallel that could become a vessel for meaningful change in the NFL.