CONSIDER the numbers in an average, run of the mill football game.
Maybe the star running back rushes for 100-plus yards; perhaps a receiver hauls in a pair of touchdowns; and on a good day -- a really great day -- maybe a quarterback will throw for 400 yards or so.
That's a high number, no question, but 400-yard games do happen and their occurrence is so seemingly regular throughout the course of a CFL season that it often takes a huge statistical performance beyond that total to make one do a double take.
Matt Dunigan once threw for over 700 yards at Winnipeg Stadium.
Matt Dunigan threw for more than 700 yards at Winnipeg Stadium.
Are you kidding?
Many who were there that beautiful July evening -- the announced crowd was 21,686 -- say it was the greatest performance they had ever witnessed on a football field. To be exact, Dunigan, the Winnipeg quarterback who had a reputation throughout his travels in the CFL as a gunslinger, threw for 713 yards in a 50-35 victory against the Edmonton Eskimos, an aerial assault that still stands as a professional football record.
How do you explain throwing for six and a half CFL football fields (goal-line to goal-line)?
"These things just kind of happen," Dunigan told reporters after the historic effort. "It's stupid to even think of numbers like this. In the huddle, (Chris) Walby's yelling at me, 'You're on fire.' (The Eskimos) are trying to make us work it down the field a little more.
"Hey, the receivers made the plays, the offensive line gave me the opportunity to throw the ball."
So simple, right?
It's a little known fact, but Dunigan actually holds second spot for Bombers' single-game passing yards. That was also at Winnipeg Stadium, a 467-yard dissection of B.C. July 30, 1992.
That number pales in comparison to the 713-yard performance, though, a distance that equals 0.65 kilometres for those interested in metric conversion.
Dunigan's magical number wasn't the only statistical marvel that night:
-- His favourite target was Alfred Jackson, who caught seven balls for an eye-popping 308 yards and four long touchdowns (55, 54, 34, and 88 yards).
-- David Williams had 10 catches for 242 yards and a major. Both he and Jackson eclipsed James Murphy's club record for receiving (229 yards).
-- The Winnipeg offence put up 792 total yards in the game. Check this out: Through the first three games of the 2011 season, the Bombers put up 552 yards offence.
Cal Murphy, the man who brought Dunigan to Winnipeg prior to the 1992 season (after the quarterback won a Grey Cup with Toronto the year before -- at Winnipeg Stadium, no less) was just as shocked as anyone after the 713-yard game.
Said Murphy: "At one point Matt said something about running the ball and I said, 'Are you kidding?' "
No one could believe anything at Winnipeg Stadium that night.
NO one, near as we can tell, ever referred to Winnipeg/Canad Inns Stadium as 'picturesque', a 'cathedral' or a 'grand ol lady.'
It was never held in the same high regard as Yankee Stadium or the Montreal Forum or the Boston Garden -- sporting shrines every one of them -- or even revered or romanticized like Empire Stadium in Vancouver or Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium.
It was and remains, in one word, functional.
And now the building's last days are upon us.
The home of the Blue Bombers since 1953, the stadium will meet the wrecking ball after this season as the football club moves into its new home at the University of Manitoba to open the 2012 campaign.
There are potholes in the parking lot, leaks in the ceiling and coats upon coats of paint covering up some serious imperfections.
But the stadium has given its patrons some wonderful moments over close to six decades -- particularly in sports and entertainment -- and during the next few months the Free Press will revisit 10 of the most memorable gridiron-themed events on the day of each Bomber home game.
Call it our farewell to the 58-year-old facility that has served so well.