Zach Collaros was bluntly honest for a brief moment following the Winnipeg Blue Bombers comeback win in the 108th Grey Cup.
The team that deemed his career over, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, by benching and trading him away was on the wrong side of the CFL championship outcome at home. The 33-year-old QB led a comeback from 12 points down to win at Tim Hortons Field and didn’t feel for the Ticats while celebrating.
“Not right now, but I do love a lot of people in that locker room. I love a lot of guys on the coaching staff and in the building, so I guess I do feel for them a little bit,” Collaros said.
After being intercepted twice in the third quarter, Collaros led a rally in the fourth and finished the deal in overtime. His 13-yard touchdown strike to Darvin Adams and ensuing connection with Rasheed Bailey for a critical two-point convert helped Winnipeg earn back-to-back victories over Hamilton in the league’s title game.
“That’s what makes him an MOP, he’s just not fazed by the stuff that goes on during the game. He doesn’t allow the emotion of one play affect what he’s got to go out and do the next play or series. To me, that’s really the mark of a champion,” head coach Mike O’Shea said.
Collaros was named Grey Cup MVP for the first time in his nine-year career. No. 8 completed 65 percent of his passes for 240 yards with two touchdowns — one in the fourth quarter and the other the game-winner in overtime — and two interceptions during a windy night in Hamilton.
“I threw two interceptions, put us in a bad spot, guys picked me up: ‘Hey, we’re going to get you the ball back.’ They did a great job of limiting the points in the third quarter when I put our defence in really bad positions. They had belief in us to get it done in the fourth and we did,” Collaros said.
“The second one was unacceptable for sure. The first one the guy made a good play and it was a good call by coach [Mark] Washington. It’s the Grey Cup, down nine, down 12, what are we going to do, pout about the last possession? You just gotta keep swinging.”
That’s exactly what the Bombers did, Collaros and O’Shea never wavered after taking a bunch of body blows from the Ticats in the second and third quarters, standing in to deliver the knockout blow in OT. That mentality has been created by the CFL’s Coach of the Year and adopted wholeheartedly by the players in the locker room.
“It’s the love we have for each other, it’s what Mike’s been preaching to us since day one: ‘Gratitude was the word of the year for us.’ Grateful to play, grateful for each other, grateful for our families, our children, for the league,” Collaros said.
“I was sitting there in the locker room before the game thinking to myself: ‘I really love these guys, we have to win this game.’ I was kind of emotional about it, I’ve never been part of a team like this.”
It’s the third time in franchise history the Bombers have won back-to-back Grey Cups, 1958 and 1959, 1961 and 1962 were the other two occasions. While Collaros is the second quarterback in team history to win two straight big silver trophies, Ken Ploen was the other in 1961 and 1962.
Collaros accomplished the feat in a pressure-packed environment with millions watching on television and a stadium record crowd of 26,324 on hand. The football fan in Collaros can appreciate the excitement and intrigued from fans, especially on a chilly evening in the Hammer.
“I would have been warmer in the stands,” Collaros said, “and I would’ve had quite a few drinks during that game.”