In Dave Cutler’s second CFL season, Edmonton was struggling mightily. The Eskimos owned a 2-5 record and calls for coaches’ and players’ necks were growing fierce. On a rainy, muddy night the Esks were battling Montreal with a chance to win on a 52-yard field goal in the final seconds.
Cutler "zeroed this thing" and they won the game, causing Edmonton to catch fire and win eight straight and igniting early stirrings of an unprecedented Canadian football dynasty. For Cutler, it effectively jumpstarted a 16-season career as one of the greatest kickers in CFL history.
"That kick, that’s the one I walked through the door to pro football in, that started it all."
Born in Biggar, Saskatchewan, Cutler’s family moved to Victoria when he was five. He played football growing up, but never actually tried kicking until university. He kicked penalty goals playing rugby at Mount View Secondary though, a sign of things to come.
Cutler walked on to Simon Fraser University’s inaugural football team in 1965 and in SFU’s first-ever game, he filled in at linebacker and caused a fumble leading to SFU’s first-ever touchdown. He was later named an NAIA All-American honourable mention.
Bored one day in his sophomore season, he brought a ball and kicking tee out to the field. SFU coach Tom Walker saw Cutler smash the first ball 50 yards and just like that he was a kicker. One game in Portland, Cutler nailed a convert out of the stadium and onto the balcony of an apartment building across the street. The Green Bay Packers were impressed with his patented toe-punch style, but were scared off by his unique lacing method (locking his ankle in place with shoelaces running from the toe).
So Cutler signed with Edmonton and became a pillar of a dominant Eskimos team that reached nine Grey Cups in ten years, winning six (1975, 1978-82). Named Most Valuable Canadian of the 1975 Grey Cup, he re-wrote the CFL record books. At the time of his retirement in 1984, he ranked as the leading scorer in pro football history with 2237 points, breaking George Blanda’s NFL mark.
Cutler also held CFL records for most career field goals (464), most points in a season (195), most field goals in a game (5), and broke the record for most field goals in a season several times. His longest successful kick was a 59-yarder, but he once attempted a 71-yard prayer in a Saskatchewan gale and amazingly hit the crossbar. Always clutch in the biggest games, he remains the leading scorer in Grey Cup game history, as well as the Eskimos’ career leading scorer. Cutler was also a three-time Western All-Star, a two-time CFL All-Star, and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1998.
Written and researched by Jason Beck, Curator of the BC Sports Hall of Fame.