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This article was published 20/10/2020 (454 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Zach Collaros isn’t in denial.
With all the uncertainty surrounding the future of the CFL, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback doesn’t hesitate when asked if it’s crossed his mind that he may have thrown his last pass in the three-down league.
"Oh yeah, for sure. Definitely," admitted Collaros in a phone interview on Tuesday from his home in Aurora, Ont.
"I mean, obviously I’m cautiously optimistic, but these things are out of our hands."
The 2019 Grey Cup last November was, however, in his hands as Collaros completed 17 of 23 passes for 170 yards to help the Blue and Gold to a 33-12 victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
Even though he reached the pinnacle of the Canadian game in his last start, Collaros said that wouldn’t reduce the sting of a lost league.
"I don’t know. I mean, obviously, that’s the goal of every season, but I still think that I have some good years left in me playing," he said.
"I love playing the game. I love competition. You crave it. This time away from the game has really shown me that and I think showed everybody that. Again, whenever it’s out of your hands it’s not a good feeling. I’d be very disappointed if we can’t get something done."
There’s no such thing as a good time for a cancelled CFL season, but it feels like it couldn’t have come at a worse time for Collaros. The 32-year-old from Ohio is coming off a season where he overcame much adversity to get his career back on track. Starting the season with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Collaros was hit in the head by Hamilton linebacker Simoni Lawrence three plays into the first game. He was sidelined and replaced by Cody Fajardo, who took the job and ran with it. Collaros was eventually dealt to the Toronto Argonauts, but didn’t get a snap before being shipped to the Bombers minutes before the trade deadline.
Everyone knew the Bombers were acquiring a big name, but nobody knew for sure if Collaros still had it. He silenced the doubters in his first start, the regular-season finale against the Calgary Stampeders, when he threw for 221 yards and two touchdowns while leading the Bombers to a comeback victory over their division rival. You know the rest of the story, as the Bombers went 4-0 with Collaros en route to winning the club’s first title since 1990.
Collaros re-established himself as a starting quarterback, which was solidified by the Bombers signing him to a two-year deal. But for the time being, it doesn’t matter. With that said, the veteran pivot isn’t looking for sympathy.
"Well, I think for everybody, for something like this to happen, it’s completely out of people’s hands and out of their control. It’s terrible timing for everybody," Collaros said.
"I’m fortunate enough that I’m not in a situation that a lot of people are in right now, so I don’t dwell on what’s happening for me personally or my family personally. I know we’re going to be OK, but I really pray for and worry about people’s businesses that are getting shut down. These small businesses are shutting down and they’re not able to feed their families. The unintended consequences of all of this is what I worry about, personally."
After being traded to the Bombers, Collaros was constantly asked about his roller-coaster ride of a season. When you’re busy trying to get accustomed to a new playbook, there isn’t a whole lot of time to sit down and reflect, especially that late in the season.
Now that Collaros has had some down time, he was asked to put the 2019 campaign into words.
"I guess kind of mixed feelings on it. Obviously with the way that it ended, I’m excited for that. You always want to go out and win the last game and I’m obviously very excited about being a part of the Winnipeg organization now and it’s definitely a blessing the way everything worked out, but things leading up to it were unfortunately out of my control. But that’s kind of the business that we’re in and it is what it is," said Collaros, who became a father in April. He and his wife, Nicole, have a baby girl, Sierra.
Collaros experienced a lot of lows last season before arriving in Winnipeg, but none of that could prepare someone for what 2020 had in store.
"You miss the competition, you miss the daily work, the grind of the entire thing and having a goal to pursue," Collaros said.
"I think we’re all feeling an empty space inside without the season, especially with every other league playing. That’s been tough to deal with and think about. But like I said, everybody’s going through it and just trying to get through the situation the best we can."
Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor got his start with the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of.