Anthony Calvillo talks to media before his induction into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame Class of 2017 at Mosaic Stadium in Regina. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Calvillo credits Ham for resurgence

Anthony Calvillo and Tracy Ham are together again.

Calvillo credits Ham with resurrecting his CFL career with the Montreal Alouettes, and Wednesday night Calvillo followed his mentor into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, securing induction in his first year of eligibility. Ham retired after the 1999 season and was inducted in 2010.

“When I got to Montreal, I had to take a step back and rebuild everything inside me,” Calvillo said. “I give a lot of credit for much of that to Tracy Ham for opening up my eyes on how a real experienced, championship quarterback should conduct himself on and off the field.

“Also, the mental preparation that came with being successful week in and week out.”

Calvillo signed with Montreal following three difficult seasons in Hamilton. He began his CFL career in ‘94 with Las Vegas but went to the Tiger-Cats first overall in the expansion draft after the Posse folded following their first season of operation.

Hamilton had high hopes for Calvillo but released the Los Angeles native following the ‘97 campaign. Calvillo started 26 games over three seasons with the Ticats, completing 56.9 per cent of his passes for 7,579 yards with 44 TDs and 45 interceptions.

Calvillo signed as a free agent with Montreal and learned under Ham, a two-time Grey Cup champion.

“The biggest thing was just the respect the guys had for him in the locker-room,” Calvillo said. “And the reason they respected him so much was because of the extra hard work he’d put in, showing up three hours before practice and watching film.

“He taught me what to look for and he challenged me, which were huge steps.”

Calvillo started 14 games over the next two seasons before taking over on a full-time basis in 2000. Over the next 14 seasons, Calvillo led the Alouettes to eight Grey Cup appearances, winning three.

Three times he was named the CFL’s outstanding player and threw for over 5,000 yards in a season on seven occasions. And in 2011, Calvillo became pro football’s all-time passing leader.

But Calvillo retired following the 2013 campaign after suffering a season-ending concussion. Calvillo left the CFL with the most passing yards (79,816), touchdowns (455), completions (5,892), attempts (9,437) and Grey Cup passing yards (2,470) in league history.

The neumbers are more impressive when considering Calvillo knew little about Canadian football when he joined the expansion Posse.

“The one less down wasn’t an issue for me,” Calvillo said. “What really stood out though was the size of the field.

“To me that was the biggest thing because the ball was going to be in the air a bit longer than it would normally when you were making certain throws. The extra guy, you had to deal with him, but that also wasn’t a huge issue. To me, it was the size of the field.”

It’s not the championships, awards or accolades that stand out most in Calvillo’s mind regarding his career. It was his longevity.

“I took pride in playing at a certain standard that I created for myself, that’s what allowed me to play for so many years,” Calvillo said. “I made sure I improved and stayed on top of my game, especially late in my career.

“To me, those last five, six years really stand out.”

Calvillo also credited owner Robert Wetenhall, longtime GM Jim Popp (now with the Toronto Argonauts) and former president Larry Smith with laying the foundation for Montreal’s success.

“They set a standard that was going to be met year in and year out and they made sure the players and coaching staff were accountable to that,” Calvillo said. ”Guys took pride in winning, they just didn’t accept losing and you could see that paid off for us.”

After taking a year away from football following his retirement, Calvillo returned to the Alouettes in ‘15 as receivers’ coach. He’s currently the club’s quarterbacks coach under head coach Jacques Chapdelaine, who’ll also serve as offensive co-ordinator, the post Calvillo held last season.

The ‘17 season will also mark head coach Marc Trestman’s return to the CFL with Toronto. Trestman’s first stint in Canada was with Montreal (2008-12) and included two Grey Cup championships before becoming the Chicago Bears’ head coach in 2013.

Calvillo thrived under Trestman, a noted quarterback guru. Calvillo completed over 60 per cent of his passes in each of his five seasons with Trestman and had a career-high 43 TD passes in 2008.

“The biggest thing with Marc was he really had the pulse of the locker-room,” Calvillo said. “He knew when to get on us, he knew when to let us be, he knew when to bring us up and down.

“I’ve never really been around a coach who did that on a consistent basis. It just reminds me how important the head coach is to your organization because he leads you and everybody has to follow.”

Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Influenza claims two more in Central Alberta

Since flu season began four months ago 16 have died in Central Alberta

Relatives of murdered family critical of killers’ sentences

Open letter to sentencing judge criticizes ruling allowing killers to apply for parole in 25 years

City rolling out Green Carts

Green Carts used for organics, such as yard waste, food scraps and pet waste

Updated: Red Deer gets WHL Bantam Draft and Awards Banquet

WHL will holds its draft and awards ceremony in Red Deer for next three years

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Supporters of Tina Fontaine’s family march in Winnipeg to support her family

WINNIPEG — Hundreds marched through the streets of Winnipeg on Friday in… Continue reading

Alberta judge cleared in case where sex assault victim was shackled and jailed

EDMONTON — An Alberta judge has been cleared of misconduct in the… Continue reading

Ottawa vows legislation allowing firms to settle corporate corruption

OTTAWA — The Canadian government is vowing to introduce legislation for corporate… Continue reading

‘Lost Tapes’ series examines Malcolm X through rare footage

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Malcolm X was reviled and adored during his lifetime… Continue reading

Woe, Canada: Germany ousts Canada 4-3

GANGNEUNG, Korea, Republic Of — Germany has knocked Canada out of the… Continue reading

Twenty years later, figure skating’s most famous backflip remains amazing (and illegal)

Figure skating involves spins, jumps, twizzles and a whole host of other… Continue reading

You don’t need to chop like a TV chef to get the job done

Standing in line at the emergency room, makeshift bandage around my finger,… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month