MONTREAL — After a Hall of Fame career that spanned 20 seasons, more than 79,000 yards and countless records, Montreal Alouettes quarterback Anthony Calvillo announced his retirement from professional football Tuesday.
The longtime face of the franchise and five-time CFL All-Star was named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player on three separate occasions over the course of his career and holds league records of 79,816 passing yards, 455 touchdown passes, 5,892 completions and 9,437 pass attempts.
“It has been quite a ride! As a kid growing up in California, I never thought that it would be possible to play professional football for 20 years in a country and a city that I knew nothing of,” explained Calvillo, who resides in Montreal with his wife Alexia and two daughters Olivia and Athena. “I will forever be thankful to our owner Bob Wetenhall and General Manager Jim Popp for allowing this franchise to have all the success that we have had over the years.
The city of Montreal and all the great Alouettes fans across the Province of Quebec have embraced me and that feeling is mutual.”
Calvillo broke into the CFL with the Las Vegas Posse in 1994 and spent the following three seasons with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats before rising to stardom after joining the Montreal Alouettes in 1998. Serving as quarterback Tracy Ham’s understudy for two seasons, Calvillo took over as the starting pivot in 2000 on his way to winning three Grey Cups with Montreal in 2002, 2009, and in 2010. He was also named the 2002 Grey Cup Most Outstanding Player.
“My family has been privileged to be associated with Anthony over all these years,” said Alouettes owner Bob Wetenhall. “We wish him well and are looking ahead to our continuing engagement.”
Calvillo, who was presented with the Key to the City at the end of the 2011 season, led the Alouettes to eight Grey Cup tilts and owns several championship records for most pass completions (179), passing yards (2,470) and touchdown passes thrown.
“Today a hero to many steps to the side, not to be forgotten but to be cherished and respected for years to come. Anthony, you have earned your stripes,” added Alouettes General Manager and Head Coach Jim Popp. “I, first and foremost, want to thank you for being a true gentleman and professional. Secondly, for inspiring us all with your courage and determination. And thirdly, for being such a great leader on and off the field.
Your will to help and give has made us all better people, and the Alouettes a better family. I wish you, Alexia, Athena, and Olivia many years of good health, happiness, and that memorable walk off into the sunset as you all reflect on what an outstanding career you have had and all that you have given to your family and work.”
The veteran pivot became pro football’s all-time passing leader in spectacular fashion at Percival Molson Stadium against the Toronto Argonauts on October 10, 2011, following a 50-yard touchdown strike to Jamel Richardson.
“On behalf of the organization, I want to thank Anthony for his great contributions to our team. Not only for what he has done on the field but in the community as well. Anthony was, and always will be a prestigious ambassador for the Alouettes,” declared team President and CEO, Mark Weightman.
In 2012, Calvillo became the first QB in league history to reach the 5,000-plus passing yards mark seven times over his brilliant career. He also threw for over 300 yards in eight-straight games, breaking Doug Flutie’s single-season CFL record of seven, set in 1991 with the B.C. Lions. That season, Calvillo deservingly earned his tenth nomination as the team’s Most Outstanding Player.
“I would like to thank Anthony and Alexia for their contribution to the Alouettes organization and to the Montreal community throughout the years. I look forward to a continued association and friendship with Anthony and his family for many years to come,” said Alouettes Chairman, Paul Harris.
Calvillo is one of the Alouettes’ most active members in the community, particularly with Cedars Cancer Institute.
Canadian Football League Commissioner Mark Cohon said, “Anthony Calvillo is more than one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game. He is one of the most remarkable people to ever grace our league.
We know he has rewritten the record books, completing passes, throwing touchdowns, and leading teams to wins and championships, amassing a legacy as a player that is second to none. What we can’t measure is how many lives he has inspired with his example of courage and perseverance. For all of his touchdown drives and comeback victories, his greatest triumphs have been over poverty and circumstance, disappointment and discouragement, injury and illness.
He has shown us what it takes to be a winner on the field. Along the way, he taught us much about what it means to be a true teammate, a loving father and a devoted husband.
All of us will miss AC the player. He is a singular talent. But Canadians from coast to coast, and football fans beyond our borders, have also come to know Anthony the person. And that is why we have every confidence that he will continue to excel, in his career after football and in his life, most of all.”