Calvillo's legend grows

Montreal Alouettes quarterback Anthony Calvillo drinks from the Grey Cup after defeating the...

Montreal Alouettes quarterback Anthony Calvillo drinks from the Grey Cup after defeating the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the CFL's 98th Grey Cup football game in Edmonton, Alberta, November 28, 2010. (REUTERS/Shaun Best0

MATT FLOWERS, Sports Network

, Last Updated: 11:50 AM ET

TORONTO -- During his first live television interview after winning the Grey Cup on Sunday, the Montreal Alouettes' Anthony Calvillo could barely control his emotions. He said "something" had been weighing on his mind and he needed to let it out.

Later that evening, he broke his silence on a well-kept secret that many of his teammates knew nothing about; he had a lesion in the thyroid gland of his throat and would be undergoing surgery early next week.

He may never take a snap in the CFL again.

The lesion was first discovered after Calvillo was hospitalized following a sternum injury on Aug. 19. Since then, Calvillo kept the condition to himself and a select few en route the 38-year-old winning his third Grey Cup title and second in a row.

The surgery will have doctors remove half the thyroid to look for any sign of cancer. This news coming just two short years after Calvillo's wife, Alexia Kontolemos, survived a battle of cancer of her own.

To keep his composure for months with all that on his mind, to overcome the emotions of dealing with a real-life threat game-in, game-out, and to help lead his team to a well-deserved victory in the 98th Grey Cup Final does more than make the case for the quarterback going down as one of the best there ever was. It practically cements it.

His statistics in this year's game against the Saskatchewan Roughriders don't necessarily leap off the page: 29-for-42 for 336 yards and zero touchdown passes. But he did not throw an interception and his clutch second-down conversions in the second half allowed his team to keep out in front.

Montreal's offense may not have been as dominant as it would have wished - and a 21-18 final score meant defense reigned supreme for both teams - but the Als scored when necessary, and made the big plays that Saskatchewan just didn't make.

Yet for Calvillo, all of it becomes secondary to the more important aspects of life. But with the calm determination that has defined him his whole career, Calvillo confidently stated he would "be ready to play football next year."

DEFENSE, DEFENSE, DEFENSE

It wasn't the 54-51 kind of game seen in the season opener, but the Alouettes and Riders made some fireworks on the other side of the ball for what was a rather tight Grey Cup match.

Montreal, in particular, stood tall when it counted, at one point forcing Saskatchewan to punt the ball on eight straight possessions late in the game.

Saskatchewan quarterback Darian Durant had trouble making consistent drives as, all too often, a decent 10- to 20-yard pass was followed by two lackluster plays and a failed third-down conversion.

But a 215-yard pass performance would have meant nothing to Riders fans if Durant and Co. could have supplied magic in the game's final few minutes.

Down by three points with 56 seconds to play on the Riders' 37-yard line, Durant got into trouble as Montreal converged like sharks in a feeding frenzy. He magically escaped away from one defender, but mounting pressure forced him to toss the ball out of bounds ... only to see it fall short and into the waiting hands of Montreal defensive back Billy Parker, whose interception iced the game.

For Saskatchewan, the loss is even more heartbreaking coming on the heels of last year's blown opportunity for Grey Cup glory, when Alouettes kicker Damon Duval made good on his second attempt for a winning field goal. His first attempt missed, but Saskatchewan was penalized for have too many men on the field.

This time around, there was no major mental error in a game Montreal deserved to win. Not quite so devastating a loss, but the sting from last year has only gotten worse for Riderville.

Montreal receiver Jamel Richardson took home Most Outstanding Player honors with 109 yards over eight catches. His highlight-reel 37-yard catch in the fourth quarter within five yards of the end zone proved to be one of the biggest moments of the game, as Avon Cobourne's ensuing TD run - and second of the game - proved to be the winning points of the Grey Cup.

But here's hoping the real winner after this is all said and done is the one that truly matters, Calvillo.


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