This must be what Armageddon looks like – the Montreal Alouettes and their fans are getting a fleeting glimpse at the End of Days.
Franchise quarterback Anthony Calvillo has been placed on the nine-game injury list, which, in theory, rules him out for the rest of the 2013 regular CFL season.
Concussions are mysterious injuries at the best of times, and when the victim is a 41-year-old with Hall of Fame credentials and two decades of pro football under his belt, it’s only natural to wonder whether this might be the one: The injury that leads to retirement.
Team officials stressed Wednesday the move is intended as a preventive measure, and pointed out Calvillo can be recalled at any time if his condition improves and he is medically cleared to play. (Teams are allowed to take one player back from the nine-game list per half-season, and the Als have only just reached the halfway pole.)
While it’s true moving the California native to the long-term injury list provides a valuable roster spot – and a measure of salary cap relief – it also suggests Calvillo’s ongoing symptoms are, at minimum, a serious concern for the team.
The admission he could be sidelined for the long-term will doubtless pour fuel on speculation the team is looking at bringing in another quarterback. (NFL washouts Tim Tebow and Vince Young are on the team’s negotiating list. However, both have said they are intent on continuing their careers in the U.S.)
Also, Montreal general manager and interim head coach Jim Popp has repeated since Calvillo was slammed to the ground by the Saskatchewan Roughriders defender Ricky Foley on Aug. 17, that he has no intention of signing a new pivot.
Rookie quarterback Tanner Marsh led the Als to a 20-9 victory in Toronto last Tuesday, it might not be a coincidence Calvillo’s status was updated the following day.
Montreal also has reserve Josh Neiswander and newly-signed Troy Smith, a former NFL quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner who took his first CFL snap Tuesday.
Smith is playing his way back into game shape, and despite Marsh leading the Als to consecutive wins, the big-armed former Ohio State University product may be best-positioned to be Calvillo’s heir apparent.
After suffering a concussion in 2011, Calvillo said he seriously contemplated retirement.
And, in his only public comments since getting hurt this time, it was clear his condition isn’t improving to his satisfaction.
“I’m having trouble focusing and seeing things, which is causing my brain to be really working,” Calvillo said after watching his teammates practice last week. “That’s what’s giving me some light-headedness and some headaches here and there.
“That’s been the biggest issue, just focusing with my eyes to see what I’m looking at.”
During his 20-year career, Calvillo has suffered concussions before – how many, even he isn’t sure.
CFL commissioner Mark Cohon was asked about concussions and Calvillo’s health before the Labour Day game between the Calgary Stampeders and Edmonton Eskimos.
Cohon stated the league was taking an active approach in diagnosing and treating concussions, while ensuring players are not rushed back into action.
“Anthony has had concussions in the past. A lot of our players have had concussions,” Cohon said. “You never like to see your star player go down, but the most important thing is making sure we look after that player.
“We make sure he’s diagnosed on the sideline. We make sure that he only comes back when he’s medically cleared and ready to go. That’s why he’s sitting on the sideline until he’s ready. That’s what we do whether he’s Anthony Calvillo or a rookie player.”