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Montreal Alouettes retire Anthony Calvillo's No. 13 jersey

10/13/2014 03:48 EDT | Updated 12/13/2014 05:59 EST
Anthony Calvillo, perhaps the best known and most well-respected member of the Montreal Alouettes ever to grace the field at Percival Molson Stadium, is now part of an inextricable piece of the CFL team's history.

After 16 years, three Grey Cups and countless broken records — including the one for professional football's all-time leading passer — Calvillo's No. 13 jersey has been retired.

Calvillo announced his retirement in January, but the deal was sealed on Thanksgiving Monday — Oct. 13 — at Percival Molson Memorial Stadium as his jersey was retired during halftime of the Alouettes' 40-9 win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Jim Popp, the Alouettes' general manager, appeared to fight back tears when Calvillo thanked him and team owner Robert C. Wetenhall for the past 16 years.

"Thank you for giving me the opportunity to live a dream," Calvillo told Wetenhall.

'Greatest quarterback in the CFL'

The crowd stood and cheered as Calvillo climbed onto a stage on the field with his wife Alexia and daughters Athena and Olivia.

He was greeted by three teammates from his early years — quarterback Tracy Ham, running back Mike Pringle and fullback Bruno Heppell.

Calvillo began his CFL career in 1994 with the defunct Las Vegas Posse and moved the next season to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

He signed with Montreal in 1998 to be Ham's backup and took over the starting job in 2000.

"He was the greatest quarterback the CFL has ever seen," Ham told the crowd.

The Los Angeles native won three Grey Cups with the Alouettes and was named the league's outstanding player in 2003, 2008 and 2009.​

It was in the middle of celebrating his third Grey Cup win that Calvillo revealed that he had cancer. He had a complete thyroidectomy and recovered to continue his career uninterrupted the following season.

Calvillo's cancer scare came two years after his wife Alexia waged a successful battle against cancer. 

With his family and 25,000 fans looking on, Calvillo went on to thank his teammates over the years.

"I just want to say, thank you very much for the memories," he said.

When he announced his retirement in January, he said he was going back to school to complete a degree.

He also said he would be interested in coaching football at some point in the future.

The American-born Calvillo said he and his family intend to stay in Montreal.

"We’re proud to call Montreal our home," he said.

Oct. 13 for No. 13

The Alouettes used the 13th of October to retire Calvillo's jersey, following the lead of the Montreal Canadiens, who have matched the jersey with the day number in more recent retirement ceremonies.

Calvillo's is the tenth number to be retired by the Alouettes, after Virgil Wagner (78), Herb Trawick (56), Sam Etcheverry (92), Hal Patterson (75), George Dixon (28), Pierre Desjardins (63), Peter Dalla Riva (74), Junior Ah You (77) and Pringle (27).

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