One of the most incredible stories of the 2010 CFL season was the way 38-year-old Montreal quarterback Anthony Calvillo found out he had a potentially-cancerous tumour, but put up a most outstanding player-calibre performance and carried the Alouettes to their second-straight Grey Cup before having surgery to remove his entire thyroid after cancerous cells were found following an initial exploratory surgery. Calvillo's 2011 story could be even more unbelievable, though. Since his surgery, we've heard he's recovering well, but we finally saw some proof of that this week.
TSN's Natasha Staniszewski recently caught up with Calvillo at the Alouettes' off-season voluntary workouts in Orlando, Florida (unlike the Toronto Argonauts, the Alouettes do not appear to be holding a camp at a facility recently raided by the FBI). In addition to getting some solid quotes out of Calvillo (pictured above last August), TSN also got some footage of him in the pocket at camp. While it's limited (most of the video is him talking over 2010 highlights), we do see Calvillo moving around well in the pocket, and he looks to be in pretty good shape. Combine that with his quotes and the thoughts of Alouettes' coach Marc Trestman, and it adds up to excellent news for Montreal fans (who are already having perhaps the CFL's best offseason). You can check out the video here (I approve of the Arcade Fire reference in the title, appropriate for a Montreal team), or read on for Calvillo's top quotes.
According to Calvillo, his recovery's going exactly as plan thus far. "The schedule that my doctors and the trainers have set, we're right on target," he said. "Everything's been smooth sailing since the surgery. I'm very happy with where I am right now and really looking forward to the next month and a half before we get to camp."
Calvillo said the offseason hasn't even been all that unusual for him.
"When March came around, cause I took it easy in February, but when March came around, I was pushing it like I was doing the years before," he said. "After that first week, I knew there wasn't going to be anything to slow me down."
There is going to be one particular change in his normal routine, though.
"I'm going to be seeing a voice coach here just to strengthen some of the muscles in my throat, but that's the only thing I'm doing differently," Calvillo said. "Everything else in terms of preparation, strengthwise, everything's been the same."
The Alouettes' roster has seen some notable changes so far, with Ben Cahoon retiring and Avon Cobourne going to Hamilton (perhaps to be replaced by former NFL star Ahman Green or up-and-coming talent Yvenson Bernard). Cavillo said both Cahoon and Cobourne will be missed, but he's confident general manager Jim Popp and the football operations staff know what they're doing with new acquisitions.
"The one thing we knew we had with Avon and with Ben was that they were going to be consistent and they were going to give us the chance to win," Calvillo said. "Now we have to believe that these new guys are going to do the same thing for us."
Perhaps the most notable news for Alouettes fans on Calvillo's recovery comes from head coach Marc Trestman, though, who told Staniszewski he has full confidence in his pivot being ready when the season starts.
"I've got a lot of faith in him," Trestman said. "I trust that he'll be certainly emotionally, physically and mentally ready to go. He always has been and I don't think this year will be any different."
What Calvillo accomplished last year is more than most athletes do in their entire careers. Battling cancer, playing through it, putting up a strong case as the league's top player and leading your team to their second straight championship at the age of 38 is one of the most incredible sports stories that has ever been written. He's not done yet, though, and while that's good news for those of us on the lookout for amazing stories, it could be frightening news for the rest of the CFL.