During CFL Week in Regina, I sat down with Ticat quarterback Zach Collaros to talk about life in his hometown, the famous players the team has added to their negotiation list and his desire for a return to old school rivalries. The entire interview is available via podcast – and it’s worth a listen – while a condensed, edited is posted below.
Drew Edwards: Is it enjoyable to talk to other players in a more casual environment, without the pressure of the season?
Zach Collaros: It’s great to see teammates you haven’t seen since he season ended or former teammates. Odell Willis and Shawn Lemon, guys I talk a lot of crap to on the field, it’s good to see them because they are fun guys. I think sports has evolved to this situation where everybody is friends and I have more of an old school look on things – I’d rather it be that everybody hates each other. I was watching a CFL game from ’99 the other day and maybe it’s just because I’m nostalgic and I love stuff like that but it just seems like the guys were tougher, that they really wanted to hurt each other. I get hit, I don’t give it out but I just love that old style of football, the baggy jerseys, everybody celebrating together. I think the game needs more enthusiasm for each other not all ‘me me me.’
DE: Are you spending the off-season back home in Ohio?
ZC: I am. I’m living with my parents right now. It’s me, my parents and my niece – it’s awesome. My niece is five-years-old so it’s great that I get to see her every day and read her a bedtime story. As you get older, you cherish time with your parents more and more. I’m still dating a girl in Toronto and I’ll be in Hamilton several times before the season starts.
DE: You talk about growing up in Steubenville a lot and it obviously had a big impact on you. You still enjoy being there.
ZC: It’s not that small of town – it’s 20,000 people – but there’s a real community around our high school. Whether it’s my friends or their parents or coaches, it seems like we can always pick up where we left off. That’s what I love about living in a small town. It played a major role in my outlook on things, especially in sports: how you’re supposed yo play the game, why you play the game.
DE: Do you pay attention to things that go on around the team during the off-season like free agency?
ZC: I don’t follow a ton. I have Twitter and I like to follow the actual news but the rest of it is just procrastination. I try to focus every day on doing something that’s going to make me better at my job right now. They are paying my a lot of money to do what I do and I owe that to Kent and Scott and Bob and especially my teammates. What keeps me up at night is if I don’t do something during the day.
DE: What do you think about the Ticats putting NFL quarterbacks Colin Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III on their neg list?
ZC: I saw it, that’s football. It’s a business. If you think you can improve somewhere, that’s what you do. If it ever came down to it and they came to camp, it’s competition and that’s what brings the best out of people. Somebody is always trying to take your job. Always. I don’t think anything should be handed to anybody.
DE: That mentality can be tough to understand for people outside the game. Fans would see it as players feeling threatened or insulted.
ZC: Insulted is a bad way to look at it: who do I think I am? I’m not Tom Brady. I think Kaepernick would be great up here but I think he should be playing in the NFL.
DE: If we look at the young quarterbacks in the CFL that have some success – Bo Levi Mitchell, Jonathon Jennings, Trevor Harris, yourself – the commonality is that you all sat behind a more experienced guy for a period of time while you learned the CFL game. Was that a factor for you?
ZC: I don’t think I could have done it if I had just been thrown right in there, that would have been tough. In Toronto, I was fortunate enough to have Scott Milanovich, Marcus Brady, who played in the league, Ricky Ray and Jason Maas and Trevor, all in one room: it was awesome. Then in Hamilton, learning from Kent, who sees the game as a former player, (former offensive coordinatror) Tommy Condell who has his own perspective. (Teammate) Jeremiah Masoli has played at Oregon in a different style of offence than I’m used to and sees some things differently than I do. I’ve been really lucky.