MONTREAL — The tributes poured in from all over the CFL after 20-year veteran Anthony Calvillo announced his retirement Tuesday.
“Congrats again to Anthony Calvillo on a remarkable career, goes out as one of the best ever to do it,” B.C. Lions quarterback Travis Lulay wrote on Twitter.
The 41-year-old Calvillo, who spent his last 16 seasons with the Montreal Alouettes, left as a three-time Grey Cup champion and pro football’s all-time passing leader.
Calgary coach/GM John Hufnagel was the Stampeders’ offensive co-ordinator when Calvillo made his CFL debut with the Las Vegas Posse in 1994.
"As a coach and a former quarterback, I have a great respect for his abilities and for his many remarkable accomplishments in the CFL," said Hufnagel. "His combination of talent, intelligence, game savvy, perseverance and toughness made him one of the best players this league has ever seen and he has established a number of records that may never be broken."
Toronto Argonauts offensive co-ordinator Marcus Brady was one of the many quarterbacks who backed up Calvillo and later worked with him as an assistant coach.
"I am truly grateful to witness a part of his journey through his adversities and his success, both on and off the field," said Brady. "It was an honour, as a teammate and coach, to have been a small part of his exceptional career."
Calgary offensive co-ordinator Dave Dickenson faced Calvillo as a quarterback and coach.
"He's a great player and I always enjoyed watching him play," said Dickenson. "When he was at his best, he made the game look really easy.
"With some of the obstacles he had to overcome early in his career, he's a good guy to model yourself after in regards to perseverance. He kept working at it and, eventually, good things happened to him. I also think he didn't get enough credit for being a good athlete because I know he made some very nice plays."
In a statement, CFL commissioner Mark Cohon called Calvillo one of the best quarterbacks in league history.
"All of us will miss AC the player," Cohon said. "He is a singular talent.
"But Canadians from coast to coast, and football fans beyond our borders, have also come to know Anthony the person. And that is why we have every confidence that he will continue to excel in his career after football and in his life, most of all."
Calvillo intends to take a year off before starting a coaching job with Montreal in 2015.