Can Calvillo overcome wonky finger, Argos?

FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:35 AM ET

As he has done during his distinguished time in Montreal, Anthony Calvillo has the Als pointed in the right direction, even if it causes some discomfort these days.

It was during last week’s win over Saskatchewan when Calvillo suffered a dislocated right index finger, an injury that could have been far worse had the football gods not been as kind.

Approaching 38 years of age and well on his way to enshrinement in the CFL’s Hall of Fame, Calvillo has battled through obstacles, but has never experienced a dislocated finger in his throwing hand.

Until last week’s mishap, Calvillo never knew the significance of the index finger when attempting to heave the pigskin. At first, he donned a glove in practice, discarding the apparatus after one workout and replacing it with what he describes as “creative taping.”

“It wasn’t until the last couple of days when I began to understand the importance of the right index finger,’’ Calvillo confided on Friday as the Als arrived in Toronto for Saturday night’s much-anticipated rematch against the Argos. “It’s the last thing that pretty well directs the ball as it comes off the finger. It’s very important.”

It’s amazing how a class act such as Calvillo has yet to get his due respect in the CFL.

When all is said and done, when Calvillo decides to hang up his cleats, he should be remembered as one the greatest signal callers three-down football has ever seen.

He’s by no means the quickest QB, but Calvillo can use his legs to extend drives when required. His arm strength isn’t what one would describe as lethal, but his release is so precise, his decision making so concise that it’s virtually impossible to stop him when he finds his rhythm.

Two weeks ago in Montreal, Calvillo was a surgeon in carving up an Argos defence that entered the game playing at a high level.

When the Als finished off the Argos 41-10, Calvillo had produced a game that featured six incomplete passes, zero interceptions, 394 yards and two touchdowns.

Just how his dislocated finger will impact Saturday’s outcome can’t be known until kickoff, but Calvillo has prepared as though nothing has happened.

“You need the whole finger to get the ball off,’’ Calvillo added. “For that very reason, they’ll be a minimal amount of tape because you need that last push and feel from the ball to come off my finger.”

When he huddled with reporters, Calvillo exchanged a handshake with his right hand, prompting a wag to ask why Calvillo would risk further injury.

“It’s the polite thing to do,’’ retorted Calvillo. “I try not to favour it, just try to use it as much as I can in a normal way. It’s a way of telling myself that everything is fine. Shaking people’s hands, doing little things, are slight reminders that my finger is fine and that it won’t bother me when the game starts.”

At the start of the week, an air of doubt hung in the Montreal air when the Als gathered to prep for the Argos.

“Early in the week, I was cautious,’’ Calvillo said. “I wasn’t shaking anyone’s hands. Early in practice, I was catching the snap without putting any pressure on the index finger. I kept getting reminders early in the week, but two, three days later it wasn’t an issue.”

Twice this season Calvillo has been hurt, in each case bouncing back. There has been a lot of success produced by the Als because of the organization’s ability to identify and develop talent.

There’s been continuity and a core group that begins with Calvillo. But even Calvillo admits his dislocated finger could have had far greater consequences.

“I was fortunate and lucky because it was a clean dislocation,’’ he said. “There were no bone fragments, no ligament damage. As the week went along, I felt more comfortable about it and I don’t even think about it.

“When you really look at it, I dodged a bullet,’’ Calvillo continued. “It could have been worse and it could have kept me out for a while.”

frank.zicarelli@sunmedia.ca


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