Anthony Calvillo’s secret is out. An enormous weight must surely be lifted off his shoulders. Now the weight of CFL history can be removed from the laid-back QB who started his pro career practising in a casino parking lot in Vegas and who never lost his poker-face.
The 13th QB on the Las Vegas Posse depth chart donned the #13 for his jersey the first time he defied the odds in football. He proved to be a survivor, though it was only the doomed US Expansion survival plan of a CFL Commissioner named Larry Smith that spun the roulette wheel of opportunity for A.C.
Smith was reviled by CFL purists over many years for his “Un-Canadian” behaviour. The sellout to the ugly four-down Yankees was all the more demonized when those All-American bandits from Baltimore known as the Stallions rode off with Lord Grey’s Cup, the Calgary Stampeders and Mounties powerless to get their men.
The man who helped build that team, Jim Popp, would be the GM to re-Canuck the Stallions turned Alouettes. He’d also come to recognize, at his next boss’s prodding, the importance of some three-down “maitre chez nous”.
It was Jim Popp who would give Anthony Calvillo a chance to un-learn and re-learn, rather than face long odds and bruises and perhaps even more concussions on the field again like the Saskatchewan Roughriders offered.
Calvillo knows no boast or bombast. His competitive fire always burns in a neat blue flame, never roaring out of control. If he drew any criticism, it was for taking the safety slide and having the wisdom to fight another play, knowing his brain and his arm were deadlier than his feet.
His sideline demeanour at times seems aloof. More likely sitting alone with his thoughts rather than his receiver corps. Just minutes before the team glory of their second Grey Cup win over the Riders in about 360 days, Calvillo sat alone on the bench, staring down. Seemingly lost in his thoughts or fixated on a small cut on his left hand near the base of his ring finger.
Or lost in thought about his thyroid? And when to call the audible of his lifetime.
The emotional shock of Calvillo’s bombshell didn’t slow the pace of his teammates, slaking their lusty thirst for champagne, beer, and in what must surely have been evidence of a CFL conspiracy that stretched to Alberta liquor stores — Baby Duck.
But in the sober days that lie ahead we will have an opportunity to realize the repeat battle in the Calvillo family now has wife standing by her man.
In 2011, the man who’s matched Sonny Wade for the most Alouette Grey Cup crowns will surely shatter what few prestigious passing feats are still owned by Damon Allen. It will mean everything and nothing.
Three rings to bind them and rule them all? His Precious was in the stands and he made a bee-line for her.
Life is no Tolkien fairy tale. But only love and medical marvel can be stranger than fiction. Like Alexia’s cancer, Calvillo’s lesion was found by accident. Or by great fortune.
Calvillo has many fans doing something he rarely does. Scramble. To learn the medical impact of a vocabulary far removed from the football field. Lesion. Biopsy. More baffling than even the designated import rule or the rouge.
The Alouettes and A.C. have expanded, not ended our debates.
The R-Word is de-stigmatized. The L-word wins profundity.
The repeat has ensured the Legacy.
But all across the country, football fans ponder “Does the Als’ legacy mean dynasty?”
Seeing is believing. And the poet who helped alter the course of Alouettes history with a fortuitously timed concert just months before Calvillo was signed off waivers, Bono once wrote — believing is seeing.
The last team to repeat never had to face a Salary Cap. The Argos of their day would surely have busted the cap with Doug Flutie and Pinball. A sin unpunished.
A year after Blue Rodeo inspired the comeback of the century with halftime ballads like “Lost Together” and “Til I am Myself Again”, Bachman & Turner cranked out a more blunt riff: “Taking Care of Business.”
For the first time ever Alouettes fans can contemplate, dream and lust over a T-word: Three-Peat!
Winning, they say, cures everything. The Calvillo family and the extended family of Als fans wish life were that simple.
Still, the legacy of the man may already be greater than the legacy of Anthony Calvillo the quarterback.