“This one stings.” - Coach Trestman.
“I don’t like Thanksgiving,” confesses Jamel Richardson. “Every time you go home for Thanksgiving, that means you lost. You aren’t going to the Grey Cup so...it’s tough.”
Garbage Bag Day, the most humbling ritual in pro sports came less than 24 hours after the Argonauts stunned the Alouettes in the Eastern Final at Olympic Stadium.
- Anthony Calvillo
Through the emotion and the disappointment came a sense that a team with a dozen potential free agents may not have to go through nearly as much transition during this off-season as last.
GM Jim Popp insisted he would carry no regrets into the off-season, not even after ex-Alouette defector Chad Owens set a Toronto receiving record and Als returner du jour Trent Guy failed to spark any field position advantage.
“This is the first time since 1998-99 that we haven’t made it to Grey Cup in two straight years,” noted Popp, who made no secret of the fact that he will have his work cut out for him throughout the coming months.
Quarterbacks Anthony Calvillo and Adrian McPherson, offensive lineman Jeff Perrett and Andrew Woodruff, defensive backs Seth Williams and Dwight Anderson as well as receiver Brian Bratton are all among those in need of new contracts.
At least one Alouette player revealed he will carry some baggage over the winter, while another is being urged to lay his burden down.
“It’s very disheartening, man, to know this team won’t be back together, I think that’s the hardest part of it all,” said All-Star safety Kyries Hebert.
“Knowing this was the last time we’ll have this group of guys together and this was our shot. We didn’t take advantage of this opportunity.”
What made headlines all over the city of Montreal was the Als’ final offensive play of the season.
On that play, Calvillo hit Bratton for what seemed like a sure game-tying touchdown strike, only to see the ball hit Bratton in the chest then fall to the Olympic Stadium turf, immediately silencing the 50,000 fans on hand.
Jamel Richardson offered advice for the usually sure-handed receiver, who was unfairly captured as the image of failure of the Als’ second-straight early playoff exit.
“Football doesn’t come down to one play,” reminded Richardson. “At the end of the day Bratton should use this as motivation. Use this as a building block for him to come in next year and kill this league.”
“He should play with a chip on his shoulder, but he shouldn’t shoulder this loss. This was a total team loss.”
Dwight Anderson echoed Richardson’s team-loss sentiment.
“No doubt we’re the better team than the Argonauts...but that’s the way the cookie crumbles,” said Anderson, who hopes to sit down with Popp and would love to get a contract extension done soon.
“I really enjoyed being part of this organization and this city and I hope to be a part of it for a few more years.”
Those were the kinds of words that would not or could not flow form Calvillo’s mouth. He’ll take two weeks to unplug and confer with his wife Alexia regarding his future in the CFL.
The truth is Head Coach Marc Trestman and Popp, not to mention Calvillo’s teammates will be stunned if he announces a sudden retirement...as sudden as it can be for a quarterback at age 40.
Rick Moffat is the Voice of the Montreal Alouettes on CJAD 800. He works alongside former CFL Dave Mudge. Moffat's first attended Grey Cup was as a fan in '77 - the infamous Tony Proudfoot "Staple Game". Rick is proud to say he had his first beer at an Als' game during the Marv Levy Era. Follow Rick on Twitter @RickMoffat.
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