In Canadian football, the potential of the games greatest players isnt always obvious during the early stages of their careers. And Anthony Calvillo is no exception. He came to the CFL in the most unusual of circumstances, the 21-year-old quarterback of a CFL expansion team in Las Vegas that spent its one and only season playing before crowds that resembled friends and family. That first season, he completed 44 per cent of his passes and threw more interceptions than touchdowns while the team stumbled to a 5-13 record and then folded. Had Calvillo hung up his cleats right then and there, no one would have blamed him. And no one would have remembered him, either. At that time, he was about as anonymous as a CFL player could be. All of which makes more remarkable the journey hes taken over the past 20 years, retiring as the all-time leading passer in pro football history, three Grey Cup rings and a legacy in Canadian football that is virtually unmatched. The lesson of Anthony Calvillos career is that those who become stars in the Canadian game are rarely those who possess eye-popping physical attributes, or who arrive with bona fide star power. They are, instead, usually players whose full skill sets arent obvious right away, requiring a combination of humility, determination, patience and smarts to reach their potential. And in Calvillos case, he needed every one of those qualities to get him to the top. Calvillos time in Las Vegas was followed by a move to Hamilton for three seasons where he served primarily as backup quarterback for the Tiger-Cats, followed by two more with Montreal where he once again played the understudy, this time under CFL great, Tracy Ham. If there was greatness ahead of him at that time, only Calvillo would have known it. Yet six years into his professional career, following Hams retirement after the 1999 season, Calvillo took the reins in Montreal looking like someone whod been succeeding at the Canadian game all his life. It turns out Calvillo had made good use of those first half-dozen years in the league, refining his craft, learning from his own mistakes and those of others, quietly turning himself into someone who was ready and able to engineer a CFL offence. When his time came to become a starter with Montreal, he was meticulous and calm, the consummate professional who could command respect from those around him with his approach to the game and unmatched level of preparedness. Had his success come earlier in his career, Calvillo might not have lasted as long as he did in the CFL. But when the National Football League comes looking for players in Canada, it tends to value youth and overhwelming physical skills. To appreciate Anthony Calvillo, you couldnt just look at tape or watch him at a workout. You had to see him game-in and game-out to understand the consistency, how rarely his instincts betrayed him and what a winner he was. That recogntion didnt come quickly in Canada either, however. Consider that when TSN did its Top 50 all-time players list in 2006, a survey of football media from across the country, Calvillos name wasnt on it. It wasnt truly until the final half-dozen years of his career that Calvillo began to receive his due as one of the leagues all-time greats, as the success he accumulated year after year became impossible to ignore. Calvillo is the last player to have played for a U.S. expansion team to retire, closing the book on that desperate chapter of CFL history but at the same time reminding us it wasnt all bad. If it werent for the Las Vegas Posse, would Calvillo have ever played in the CFL? And even if he had surfaced elsewhere in the league, would his journey somehow have turned out differently? Its been a great ride for Anthony Calvillo, the rare CFL player who retires as a nationally recognized name in Canada. From the unlikeliest of beginnings to the highest of accolades, he earned everything he got along the way. Dave Naylor can be heard weekdays from 4pm-7pm as the host of TSN Drive on TSN Radio 1050 in Toronto. Jason Smith Jersey
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.com) - Rajon Rondo turned in a game-high 21 points to go with eight rebounds and seven assists as Dallas claimed a 102-98 win over the Lakers on Friday.Who are some of your favorite former players?Probably former Red Wings defensemen Brian Rafalski and Niklas Lidstrom. With Mr. Rafalski, hes kind of similar to me in the way that he played. Hes a smaller guy who played in the NHL for a while and he won so I liked to watch him as much as I can.Out of your brothers, who tends to mess with you the most?Definitely P.K., hes a prankster. Malcolm is more a laid back quiet guy, but P.K tries to prank us as much as he can.Whos moms favorite?Malcolm [laughs], I dont think she has any favorites, but Malcolm definitely caused her the least grief growing up.Do you ever get sick of talking about your brothers?Uh no, not really, I love hearing about my brothers success and Im just happy for them and when people ask me about it Im happy to talk about it.Is it cool to see them succeed at the pro level (PK in the NHL, Malcolm in the AHL)?Yeah definitely, I think you look back to the preseason when they played against each other for half a game thhat was pretty exciting for my family and I.dddddddddddd We enjoyed it.What is one thing people would be surprised to learn about you?I taught myself how to play piano a little bit. What can you play on piano? I can play some soft songs [laughs] I can play Apologize by One Republic, ladys like that one Im sure.When you play NHL 14, which team do you pick?Vancouver, no doubt. Have you ever played as yourself? Yes I have. What are your thoughts on your player rating? Not bad [laughs] I could be a little bit better Im sure every player would agree. I boost some attributes, my shot and speed.Have you seen this .gif of P.K? What do you think of it?No I havent seen that, thats hilarious, thats pretty funny. It looks pretty funny when hes hopping up and down dancing.Out of the Subban brothers, whos the best at going BarDown?Me. PK just tries to put it through the net, I try to pick corners and hit the bar. Malcolms got a pretty good shot though, I wouldnt count him out. ' ' '