Zach Collaros made the first move in his relationship with Andrew Harris.
It was simple yet effective.
“One of the first couple days he was in town he came by with steaks and a bottle of Crown Royal and we hung out in the basement and finished the handle off. That’s how we got to know each other,” Harris said on TSN 1290 radio in Winnipeg.
“A bottle of Crown and some steaks, that’s all she wrote. He’s an old school guy that likes to hang out with the guys. I enjoyed being around him and getting to know him. We instantly clicked.”
Collaros was acquired by the Blue Bombers literally seconds before the CFL trade deadline on October 9, 2019. Matt Nichols sustained a shoulder injury in Week 10 that ended his season and Chris Streveler took over the starting role. However, general manager Kyle Walters and Mike O’Shea wanted a veteran signal caller.
“Having Collaros come in at the time he did just brought that experience, that knowledge and he was able to make some amazing throws for us in clutch situations. Ultimately, that was one of the biggest moves that the team made. Everyone rallied around him,” Harris said.
Collaros produced a 4-0 record, including three wins in the playoffs, leading the Bombers to their first Grey Cup title since 1990. He finished the 2019 post-season completing 65 percent of his passes for 630 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. The final game of Winnipeg’s regular schedule provided the belief in Collaros.
“The last game of the season we played Calgary and that play Collaros made to Darvin (Adams). He avoids the sack, boots out and Darvin makes an amazing catch with two feet in. That was a big statement play for us,” Harris said.
It was the first start for Collaros with the Bombers. He went 22-of-28 for 221 yards and two touchdowns while leading the offence on a game-winning drive in the final moments.
Justin Medlock kicked the ball through the uprights from 34 yards out and the upset was complete. That boosted the Bombers’ confidence and propelled Winnipeg to three straight playoff victories as underdogs, including against heavily-favoured Hamilton in the Grey Cup.
“Just the fact that we were counted out so much throughout the week. Every media was always talking about how good Hamilton was and this and that,” Harris said.
“I knew as soon as we came out of that locker room we were ready to pounce on them and keep our foot on their throat the whole game. I was getting ready to go out and kick some Hamilton Tiger-Cat butt.”
Crown Royal and steaks contributed to the celebrations in Manitoba.