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MONTREAL — Anthony Calvillo is pro football’s career passing leader.
The Montreal Alouettes quarterback broke Damon Allen’s all-time CFL record of 72,381 passing yards with a 50-yard TD pass to Jamel Richardson on the final play of the third quarter against the Toronto Argonauts.
Allen was on hand at Percival Molson Stadium, along with CFL commissioner Mark Cohon. Following Richardson’s TD, play was stopped and both Allen and Cohon, as well as member of Calvillo’s family, took part in a ceremony to honour the 39-year-old Calvillo.
“On behalf of the entire CFL, congratulations to Anthony on all of the records he has set, and for everything else he’s accomplished along the way,” said Cohon in a statement.
Calvillo and his wife, Alexia, have endured a lot in recent years. In 2007, following the birth of the couple’s second daughter, Calvillo’s wife was diagnosed with cancer, which she overcome.
And then following last year’s Grey Cup victory, Calvillo underwent successful surgery for thyroid cancer.
Former NFL stars Dan Marino and Warren Moon – who began his career with the CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos – Allen and football announcer Chris Berman all offered video tributes to Calvillo, in his 18th CFL season, which were broadcast into Molson Stadium for all to hear.
“Congratulations on becoming pro football’s leading passer,” Marino said. “If anyone knows what it takes to throw for that many yards, it’s me.
“Good luck the rest of the season, Anthony, and go Alouettes.”
Added Moon, who was football’s all-time leading passer before being bypassed by Allen: “I want to give you a special congratulations on being the total yards passing leader in the history of professional football.
“It’s a record I’ve held before and I thought it was it was very special,” he added. “Records are made to be broken so you enjoy it while you have it.”
Berman also delivered his sentiments partially in French and compared Calvillo to Kurt Warner, the former grocery store employee who later led the St. Louis Rams to a Super Bowl title.
“Hearty congratulations to Anthony Calvillo for being pro football’s all-time leading passer in yards,” Berman said. “We’ve always enjoy watching you, the man I affectionately call the Kurt Warner of Canada.”
Calvillo came into the game needing 258 yards to eclipse Allen’s record.
It marks the third time this season Calvillo has broken one of Allen’s career marks, the previous two also coming against the Argos.
On July 17, Calvillo threw two TD passes in a 40-17 home win over Toronto to break Allen’s all-time record of 394.
Then on Aug. 4 in a 36-23 defeat of Toronto at Rogers Centre, Calvillo registered his 5,159th completion to surpass Allen in that category as well.
But Allen’s passing yards record is the most prestigious of the three and Calvillo made it his own in his 300th career CFL appearance.
Calvillo began his CFL tenure in 1994 with the defunct Las Vegas Posse and spent three stormy seasons in Hamilton before being released and ultimately landing in Montreal in ’98 as understudy to Tracy Ham.
Calvillo took over as the starter two years later and has led Montreal to three Grey Cup victories – including the last two straight – and received three outstanding player awards over that span.