- Free Agency
MONTREAL — Neither Anthony Calvillo or Ricky Ray will be on the field when the Montreal Alouettes visit the Toronto Argonauts.
Calvillo is still having vision trouble and headaches from a hit during an Aug. 17 contest in Regina and will sit out the team’s next game, coach and general manager Jim Popp said Friday.
He will miss the game Tuesday in Toronto and there was no word on whether he will be ready for a return match five days later in Montreal.
That announcement came a day after the Argonauts said Ray would be out for a few weeks with a shoulder injury.
Rookie Tanner Marsh is likely to get the start for Montreal after leading the Alouettes to a comeback 39-38 win last week over the B.C. Lions.
“I told the players that whether Ricky Ray or Anthony Calvillo is playing, it doesn’t matter,” said Popp. “Each team will be playing different quarterbacks and will be without guys who will probably be Hall of Famers, but you’ve got to prepare as though they’re both playing.
“We’re competing for a division.”
There was no word on how long the 41-year-old Calvillo will be out of action, or even if he will ever play again, but his situation sounded grim as he met with reporters after practice. He had been on the field in his No. 13 jersey, but didn’t run or take part in any drills.
He sat in on some team meetings earlier in the day.
“I’m having trouble focusing and seeing things, which is causing my brain to be really working,” Calvillo said. “That’s what’s giving me some light-headedness and some headaches here and there.
“That’s been the biggest issue, just focusing with my eyes to see what I’m looking at.”
Calvillo, the CFL’s all-time leader in completions, passing yards and touchdown passes, suffered a concussion in the second quarter of the Alouettes’ 24-21 loss to Saskatchewan on what looked like a routine hit from defensive end Ricky Foley.
The Los Angeles native has had concussions before, including one two years ago when he was knocked out cold, but doesn’t recall how many he has had in his 20-year career.
He hopes to follow the concussion protocol and get back into action, but can’t estimate how long it will take.
“I was feeling great pretty much all week,” he said. “Every day it got better.
“And, two days ago, it just hit me and I felt like crap. Today I felt good so I went to see if I could push myself, but I don’t feel right at all. It’s not a headache. It’s just pressure in my head. It throbs and then goes away, and then five minutes later it’s the same thing.
“Last time, I was knocked out and after that day, I had no symptoms at all and I was able to recover a lot faster. This year that’s not the case.”
At his age, the married father of two daughters may wonder if it’s worth trying to come back at all, but he hasn’t made the decision to retire just yet.
“Right now I’m focused on getting back to 100 per cent,” he said. “Football aside, I just want to make sure my brain is working like it should.”
But he has talked about it with his wife Alexia.
“She’s always going to leave it in my hands,” he said. “When I’ve been sitting on my butt for the last two weeks we’ve had many discussions about my future.
“But we’ve been doing that for the past two years. This year is no different. I was very nervous when I had the concussion two years ago. This year is a concern as well because it’s taking time to get back to normal.”
For now at least, he doesn’t feel he has already played his last down in professional football.
“I haven’t thought about it that way,” he said. “As athletes, we’re accustomed to getting hurt and then getting back on the field as fast as possible.
“Right now, I’m a little delayed, but when the time comes and everything’s clear in terms of my head and the doctors say it’s OK, then I’ll feel comfortable stepping back on the field. Right now, that’s not the case.”
Popp won’t try to influence Calvillo’s decision one way or the other.
“I cannot speak for him,” said Popp. “But I know there’s a will to play.
“He wants to get healthy and I really believe he does want to play. But he’s the only one who can answer that.”
Calvillo watched at home on television as Marsh came off the bench to relieve Josh Neiswander and led the Alouettes to an unlikely win on a last-play field goal, despite completing only 43 per cent of his passes and throwing four interceptions.
“I had to yell at the kids a couple of times to get away from the TV, but it was weird to be honest with you,” he said. “You’re sitting there and you don’t know what plays are being called.
“You’re a fan. I got anxious. My stomach was bubbling because you want the team to win. I just wish I could have been in the locker room after to see how excited guys were.”
As for Marsh, he said: “It’s amazing how a young kid could throw the interceptions he did and help the team come back and win. It showed tremendous poise on his part. He’s getting the team to believe they can get the job done.”
Marsh will have some help if he gets his first CFL start. Running back Brandon Whitaker is ready to return to the lineup and some other injured players may also be back.