Anthony Calvillo stepped into the football confessional on the eve of his 40th birthday. He admitted he used to be too embarrassed by his own body to go lift weights with his teammates. He revealed his pro football career almost became derailed when he settled into life as a waiter at a Mexican restaurant in Honolulu, Hawaii after his team in Vegas folded without paying him his bonus money.
Most of all Anthony Calvillo savoured the opportunity to do one thing he never expected on his 40th birthday---play the game he loves.
What do you get the quarterback who has everything, on the occasion of his 40th birthday?
“A shower pill,” says Luc Brodeur-Jourdain. “I think that’s gonna be plenty enough for him,” says the man closest to the future Hall of Famer in the huddle and at the origin of every offensive play with his shotgun snaps from the centre position.
“Since I’ve been here, I feel like he’s not old at all,” says the 29-year old Laval Rouge et Or grad in his 3rd season as a starter in front of Calvillo. “He’s playing better than any other quarterback in this league.”
Jeff Perrett and Scott Flory chuckle at the thought they’re actually catching up to AC in football years.
“It’s quite amazing…he’s ageless. He’s found the fountain of youth somewhere and I need to get on that,” says Perrett, the mountain of a man with the fuzzy mountain-man beard that has gone unshaved since training camp.
“If he knows something the rest of us don’t I wish he’d tell us,” says Flory, at age 36 the seniority leader on o-line. “If you can slow down time as much as possible I think he’s figured that out.”
Flory insists Calvillo has NOT changed with age.
“He’s the same guy he was when I showed up here in 1999,” says Calvillo’s right-hand man at right guard, the only remaining teammate from the 2002 Grey Cup championship, Calvillo’s 1st of 3.
“He’s got the same demeanour, same everything and he’s playing at an incredibly high level. We don’t want to mess with his game day rituals so getting a win is the best gift of all. We’re starting to build some confidence here and understand we can’t just show up.”
Coach Marc Trestman hopes even the young pups are taught by the Old Passing Dog.
“I’m hopeful each and every guy in our locker room will take the time to walk by and spend a few minutes with him and ask ‘how do you do it?’. Most of it’s done off the field in preparation and how you take care of you body.
“I’m hopeful the young guys are students and ask ‘how do you do this…how have you stayed durable and stayed up with the game.
“We marvel at it,” admits Trestman. “There’s not many that have been that able to do it for that long. It’s a credit to AC and the work he puts in and the love he has for his job.”
At 40, Anthony has the confidence to step into the public confessional: turning 30 bugged him more than turning 40, he used to hate lifting weights because his physique was no match for most of his teammates, and even after hitting the CFL jackpot and winning a QB competition of 13 contenders for the starting job in Vegas---he had to take a civilian job after, fearing he’d lost his bonus money on The Strip.
How the script of Calvillo’s life could have been different after his CFL rookie season. The 19-year vet reluctantly admits what happened in Vegas after the Posse folded his rookie year: he was owed “incentive money” and so with an uncertain future, took a job waiting tables at a Mexican restaurant.
Don’t feel too sorry for the pride of East LA---it was in Honolulu, Hawaii.
“I actually had to work and became a waiter for the first time and believe me I had a new appreciation for people who wait on tables. It was called Rodeo Cantina...right on the pier, it was beautiful.
“I had great friends there, we worked out at the University of Hawaii, played golf and waited tables at night.”
Calvillo for years escaped the indignity of being the oldest player in the Als’ room thanks only to his go-to receiver of more than a decade Ben Cahoon, his senior but only by a matter of several weeks.
“I’m glad he’s finally hit 40,” Cahoon says on a recent early-morning drive into his coaching office at BYU. “It’s about time. This time of year when I was already a year older, he would always give me a hard time.
“I don’t think Anthony ever expected to play this long, but he has done a phenomenal job bouncing back time after time after time which is the true test of any athlete.
“Just like a warrior and a champion he’s come back each time even better and stronger.”
If he plays in every remaining game this season, AC will surpass former Alouette Miles Gorrell at #2 alltime in games played behind only Damon Allen (for non-kickers, that is).
Could he play to 44 or 45?
“I think he could,” admits Cahoon. “The way he takes care of his body and has that patented ‘chuck-and-duck’ when the pressure is on. He does such a good job avoiding the Big Hit.”
Maybe the big hit will come at the box office one day.
Calvillo reveals there have been book, film and made-for-tv movie offers about the remarkable journey of he and Alexia, refusing to let cancer intercept their lives or rededicate him to the on-field assault of the most prestigious alltime pro football passing records in 19 years as a QB. He just doesn’t have time to take those offers to heart.
So who plays him when he’s ready to go Hollywood?
“Oh I don’t know...somebody good-looking,” AC says stroking his chin, with a hint of a smile.