Don’t call him ‘Mike’: Michael Reilly honours late mother with name change

Photo courtesy: Jeff Vinnick/B.C. Lions

The star quarterback of the B.C. Lions no longer wants to be called ‘Mike.’

Michael Reilly’s mother, Rhonda, passed away in March and the two-time all-star has asked to be called by his full name in honour of her memory.

“My mom hated that people called me Mike,” said Reilly in a videoconference. “We got into big arguments about it. She always said, ‘What does your birth certificate say? I named you Michael. I wish that you’d go by that.’ It was kind of jokingly, but she was serious about it.”

Reilly’s parents have traveled to a number of CFL games from their home in Montana to watch their son play. His father, Pat, drew a strong reaction on social media when his long white hair was shown on television from the crowd.

“She was very upset with me a lot of the time that I went by Mike. This was just a way to honour her wishes,” said Reilly.

The 36-year-old quarterback wrote the following at the time of his mother’s passing.

This morning the world lost a special woman. Rhonda Reilly was truly amazing. There are not enough words to describe how lucky we were to call her mom. This has been the hardest struggle and most severe pain that our family has ever been dealt.

Both of my parents have spent a considerable amount of time in Canada during my playing career, and they alway cherished the many relationships that were created in “our home away from home.” Please keep my mom and the rest of my family in your thoughts and prayers.

Reilly broke into the CFL in 2010 following brief stints with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Green Bay Packers, St. Louis Rams, and Seattle Seahawks. He has since thrown for 31,522 yards, 168 touchdowns, and 99 interceptions as a member of the B.C. Lions and Edmonton Elks.

The Kennewick, Wash. native’s best season came in 2017 when he was named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player after completing 447 passes for 5,830 yards and 30 touchdowns.

It may take time for CFL fans to get used to hearing his new name, but expect to see and hear plenty from Michael Reilly once the 2021 season gets underway.

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.