December 14, 2012

Moffat: Calvillo’s time in Montreal far from over

Mark your calendar for November 2016.  That’s when Montreal Alouettes QB Anthony Calvillo will reach the mark his “CE” (Career Extender) Scott Suter set on his behalf.

If Canadian Football Hall of Famer Damon Allen could play a few months beyond his 44th birthday – a feat he achieved on July 29 during the 2007 season – then Suter, the former Alouette physical therapist turned diet guru and masseur, knows Calvillo can too.

Calvillo turns 44 on August 23, 2016. Alouette fans have to believe Adrian McPherson will have moved on by then.

Age is just a number

“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.”

– Anthony Calvillo

“Really, I don’t see this guy going anywhere for four more years,” said Suter, Calvillo’s go-to guy with hands that have been every bit as vital to Calvillo’s career as Ben Cahoon’s were.  

“He surprised me when he announced he’s not thinking about the age-thing anymore,” added the health expert Calvillo flew in at his own expense to Grey Cup week festivities in 2009 and 2010 for the same special treatment he gets at a Montreal clinic.

“That’s another record of Damon’s he could beat potentially. I’d like to see him get to 44 and a month older than Damon. I personally believe he’ll play another four years.”

Calvillo is universally praised as a sweet guy. Only Suter worries that Calvillo is too sweet.

“Sometimes you have bad habits that creep in mid-season, so we’re going to be a lot more picky and monitor him more closely…monitor his sugar intake a lot.  We’ll measure his sugar levels and the acidity/alkalinity of his body during the season and throughout the offseason,” he said.  

“He’s a numbers guy and we’ll show him the numbers. He’s gluten-free, dairy-free and even during games, that’s not Gatorade he’s drinking. That drink is specific for him and that’s altered for him in-season.”

There was no fanfare, not even any teammates present, but Montreal’s equipment manager Ronnie James and Assistant GM Marcel Desjardins were witnesses when Calvillo declared his 2013 intentions. Alexia Calvillo, his inspirational wife, stood off to the side and behind the row of unblinking cameras.  

The 40-year old quarterback, who could carve up some CFL defences with one hand tied behind his back, looked as composed and confident as ever despite one arm tied in front of him.

The repaired wing is staying in a sling for a few weeks, as a result of the shoulder surgery he underwent last Friday. Then range of motion exercises will be followed by strengthening the left shoulder. He won’t be allowed to throw a football until April.

“I don’t usually start throwing until May,” Calvillo grinned.

And so what leaked out on 12-12-12 marked not the end of the Alouettes’ world as we know it, but something closer to Mayan prophecy – a new beginning.

One of his daughters Olivia has told daddy he should play forever, in fact, she told him two years ago that he should play for another 10 years.  Suter and strength and fitness coach John Geller have drawn up a more realistic five-year plan.

“He says he’s already got some things that will challenge me,” says Calvillo of Suter, relishing another opportunity to prove any critics and detractors wrong.

The “Senior Citizen” from La Puente admits coaching is “in the back of his mind.” Coach Trestman made clear he had no interest in his elite thrower rolling back the hands of time to another century and trying a throwback player-coach role.

Newly-promoted offensive coordinator Pat Meyer, who will be AC’s third OC in three years, let the cat out of the bag the day before, admitting “I took the job because they told me he was coming back!”

Calvillo should be looking for a financial planner endorsement, because the way he threw the ball in 2012 proved he could be playing until “Freedom 55.”
Down a dim concrete corridor and out a tunnel to the right, the turf installed for November’s Eastern Final still sat on the cold cement of Olympic Stadium.  

The endzone to which Anthony threw up his fourth quarter final second homerun ball for Brian Bratton happens to be the endzone where home plate used to be for the Montreal Expos. It still bears an Alouette logo behind the goalposts nearby.

Ghosts of missed opportunities.   

Calvillo is dwelling on a remarkable run, he has at least played in the Grey Cup every other year since 2000, if not in back-to-back years.

Anthony dashed off the turf to the locker room at the conclusion of the Argos’ upset. Not the way anyone wants to rush into retirement.

“The last two years not winning the Grey Cup…you aren’t satisfied period. I was very upset.  That’s what eats at you,” said Calvillo.

“Whether or not we win next year, is that going to be satisfying enough for me to just say I’m done? It’s hard to say. I know I’m going to be much happier than I am now.  But to ask myself ‘is that going to be enough?’  I can’t answer that question.”

He doesn’t like the feeling of having been shut out of the CFL’s grandest stages for two years running.

While the years of the new deal are officially one plus one, the option year will effectively be Anthony and Alexia’s, not the team’s option.

As he left the conference room, Anthony shook a few hands, accepted well-wishes from the media and seemed assured he had not worn out his welcome, either for 13-on-13 Day or for 2013.

I asked if there was an ironic twist to his medical misery: Did altering his release point and delivery to play through the labrum tear actually reduce wear and tear on his throwing arm?

Anthony’s just not sure, but thinks he’ll go back to his more natural delivery next season. His altered state in 2012 wasn’t by design. Almost everything else in the quarterback’s life is.