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Retirement beckons Calvillo

Hasn't played since August, might never play again

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Montreal Alouettes quarterback Anthony Calvillo addresses reporters Monday after cleaning out his locker, perhaps for the last time.

RYAN REMIORZ / THE CANADIAN PRESS Enlarge Image

Montreal Alouettes quarterback Anthony Calvillo addresses reporters Monday after cleaning out his locker, perhaps for the last time.

MONTREAL -- Quarterback legend Anthony Calvillo says he is leaning toward retiring.

The Canadian Football League's all-time passing leader said he has not made a final decision, but he will discuss his future with Montreal Alouettes owner Bob Wetenhall on the weekend. It is highly possible his 20-year career is over.

"I'm favouring retiring, that's for sure," Calvillo said Monday as the Alouettes went through the season-ending ritual of cleaning out their lockers after their 19-16 overtime loss to Hamilton in the East semifinal. "That's the way I've been looking at things."

The 41-year-old has not played since August when he suffered a concussion after a routine hit in the backfield in a game against Saskatchewan. He said the concussion symptoms, mainly a feeling of pressure in his head, have still not gone away completely.

"The fact that the concussion has kept me off the field for so many weeks is concerning, but the biggest thing is that I'm still not 100 per cent," he said. "That's what bugs me the most.

"Now that (the season) is over, I want to step away from football and make sure I really and truly make the right decision, but I am favouring not playing."

Calvillo has been making the decision on whether to continue from year to year in recent seasons after consulting with his family and Wetenhall.

This year it is tougher, because he wants to keep playing, but has a strong feeling that he probably shouldn't.

"Of course I want to play, but physically can I keep doing it?" he said. "That's what I have to ask myself.

"The scary part is that feel I'm not fully healed yet from all the symptoms and I know my threshold has gone down for taking a hit. I've learned a lot more about concussions and that's what scares me the most because it wasn't a hard hit. It's a hit I've taken many times before."

If he retires, he is looking at going into coaching, but he also wants at least one summer off to spend with his family.

And if he coaches, the Los Angeles native wants it to be in Montreal.

"This is my home, this is where I want to be, this is where I want to raise my kids," he said. "So my first objective is to get healthy and try to stay here in Montreal."

He said the desire to coach grew this season when he was unable to play but spent time in team meetings and talking to teammates in the locker-room. He watched three quarterbacks prospects, Josh Neiswander, Tanner Marsh and Troy Smith, take turns being the starter.

Smith, the 2006 Heisman Trophy winner, looks poised to take over next season if Calvillo opts to retire.

"I was trying to help out as much as I can while I was hurt and that excited me being there to help an individual grow up and be a success," Calvillo said. "So coaching has definitely gone higher up in my list."

Calvillo broke into the CFL with the defunct Las Vegas Posse and then spent three seasons with Hamilton before joining the Alouettes as Tracy Ham's understudy in 1998. He took over as the starter in 2000.

The five-time CFL all-star won three Grey Cups and was named the CFL's Outstanding Player three times.

He holds league records of 79,816 passing yards, 455 touchdown passes, 5,892 completions and 9,437 pass attempts. He also holds the single game completions mark with 44, and leads in career Grey Cup passing yards with 2,470.

 

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 12, 2013 C4

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