Alouettes' all-star quarterback to return for 20th CFL season
Montreal Alouettes quarterback Anthony Calvillo, who is recovering from shoulder surgery, speaks to reporters on Dec. 13, 2012 in Montreal. Calvillo, 40, announced he has signed a two-year contract with the Alouettes. (Ryan Remiorz/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
The Canadian Press
Published Friday, December 14, 2012 8:16AM EST
MONTREAL - Anthony Calvillo says he feels great and he's playing well, so why retire even if he is 40 years old?
The Montreal Alouettes quarterback who was named a CFL all-star for a fifth time this season announced Thursday that he will return for a 20th season. He signed a contract for a year plus an option year, and will make another decision on whether to continue after the 2013 campaign.
"I have to evaluate every season if I still enjoy what I do, and I do," Calvillo said. "I strongly believe that this organization is going to continue to have success and I want to be part of that.
"Going on 20 years, at one point, you're supposed to retire and that day will come. But today's not it. I have too much passion and love for this organization."
The league's all-time passing leader had his left, non-throwing, arm in sling from surgery last Friday to repair a torn labrum that he played through since the third game of the season.
Despite the injury, which forced him to change his throwing motion, Calvillo completed 333 passes for 5,082 yards and 31 touchdowns in 17 starts. It was his seventh season of more than 5,000 passing yards.
And he excelled despite a run of injuries that claimed star running back Brandon Whitaker and, at different times of the season, most of his starting receivers.
"I truly believe Anthony had his best season in 2012," coach Marc Trestman said in a statement. "He overcame adversity in many ways."
Calvillo said the surgery went well and he will need four months of rehab work to be back to normal.
The sling will come off in three weeks, followed by two months of work to restore full range of motion in the arm. Then comes another month on building back strength in the limb.
"I don't usually throw until May anyway," he said. "But pain wise, there hasn't been any.
"I've just been very bored at home not being able to do a lot."
Calvillo calls his trainer Scott Suter his "career extender" and said a new set of workouts have already been planned.
The Los Angeles native, entering his 16th season with the Alouettes, holds league records of 5,777 completions, 449 touchdown passes and 78,494 passing yards. He should pass the 80,000-yard mark early in the 2013 campaign if his health holds up.
Two seasons ago, he blew past the old career passing yards record that had been set over 23 seasons by Damon Allen, who played until he was 44.
"There's pride in myself to be the best quarterback I can be," said Calvillo. "There's a level I'm trying to stay at.
"If I felt I wasn't competing at a certain level and didn't have that drive to win the championship, then I wouldn't be saying I want to play. I'm in a territory few quarterbacks have been at, and my goal is to play as long as I can and enjoy it."
With Calvillo, the Alouettes are likely to remain the Grey Cup contenders they have been since he took over as their starter in 2000.
Now the question is whether Adrian McPherson, his back-up the last four years, will opt to stay in that role or sign with another team.
McPherson mostly goes in on short-yardage situations. He scored nine touchdowns that way this season. And he got to start the final, meaningless, game of the regular season.
Calvillo told him at the end of the season he was likely to be back.
"I've always been honest with Adrian on where I am in my career," he said. "The challenge for him is what he wants to do as a quarterback.
"Does he want to continue to sit behind me or try something new? I can't answer that question, but I know he's a quality player who can help our team win, so I'm hoping he sticks around."
Calvillo said he was close to deciding to hang up the cleats after the 2011 season, when the team lost the final three games of the regular season and then was beaten by Hamilton in the playoffs.
He had come back from having his thyroid gland removed due to a cancerous lesion to set the all-time passing mark, but felt he wasn't playing well.
But then he came back and had a strong campaign. Now his goal is to get Montreal back in the Grey Cup game after missing out two consecutive years for the first time since 1998 and 1999.
"I've kind of thrown out the whole age thing and I just try to enjoy the moment and help this team win," he said.
Calvillo began his CFL career with the defunct Las Vegas Posse in 1994 and played three seasons for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats before signing with the Alouettes as back-up to quarterback Tracy Ham in 1998.
Calvillo won Grey Cups in 2002, 2009 and 2010, was named the CFL outstanding player three times.