Ryan Dinwiddie remembers 2007 Grey Cup following Collaros injury in West Final

Photo: Matthew Johnson/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

There are few people as uniquely qualified to comment on the uncertainty currently surrounding the health of Zach Collaros as Toronto Argonauts’ head coach Ryan Dinwiddie.

Winnipeg’s star quarterback left the West Final last week with a suspected ankle injury and received treatment from trainers along the bench. He made an effort to return to the game for the team’s final series but was unable to do so, returning to the bench with Dru Brown and Dakota Prukop taking over a share of the offensive controls.

The scene was reminiscent of when Kevin Glenn suffered a broken arm in the late stages of the East Final in 2007 when Winnipeg defeated Toronto by a score of 19-9. The injury took place when Argos’ linebacker Kevin Eiben dove to recover a fumble and landed on Glenn’s non-throwing arm. Eiben remains with the organization, currently serving as their linebackers coach and an assistant on special teams.

Dinwiddie made his first career start the following week in the 95th Grey Cup against the Saskatchewan Roughriders having thrown only 52 career CFL pass attempts. He was 26 at the time without any signs of the grey that has since overtaken his facial hair.

He threw three interceptions in the contest, including one on the team’s final drive late in the fourth quarter. Saskatchewan won the game by a score of 23-19 as little-known defensive back James Johnson, who intercepted all three passes, was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.

Photo: AP/John Woods

“I was excited for the moment and you want to play in big games and that’s what you looked forward to as a competitor. I was really excited that we had that opportunity,” Dinwiddie told the media on Wednesday. “I think I gave us a chance to win the game but at the end just didn’t make the right plays. We had an opportunity for it and it’s unfortunate we couldn’t bring a Grey Cup back to Winnipeg.”

Dinwiddie hasn’t told his team about how he made his first CFL start and it doesn’t appear as though intends to do so before Sunday. It’s worth noting that the native of Elk Grove, Calif. has won a Grey Cup ring since his career as a player, doing so as the quarterbacks coach of the Calgary Stampeders in 2018.

“I don’t really talk much about my playing days with our guys. Occasionally with certain players but I don’t address the team with those stories. It was a long time ago and now I’m a coach, not a player, but it always gets brought up in the media still, which is unique in itself. I’m just worried about being the best head coach I can be for the Toronto Argonauts.”

Collaros indicated after the West Final that he fully intends to start in the Grey Cup on Sunday, saying it’s “not even a question” as to whether or not he’ll play. He had a slight limp if any when attending his postgame press conference and appeared to walk comfortably while departing the airplane upon his arrival to Regina. Winnipeg’s first practice of the week will take place on Wednesday afternoon.

Dinwiddie doesn’t have any doubt as to who will be under centre for the Blue Bombers when the Grey Cup gets underway on Sunday.

“Knowing how competitive Zach is and how tough he is mentally and physically, I knew he’d be physically available on Sunday,” he said. “He’s gonna play and there’s no question about it.”

The Blue Bombers have won back-to-back Grey Cups and ended a 29-year championship drought in 2019. Dinwiddie, seated next to Mike O’Shea on stage in Regina, lamented not being able to end Winnipeg’s drought as the team’s quarterback back in 2007.

“I really wanted to be one of the first guys to do it,” he said. “Unfortunately, Mike was the guy to get that done.”

John Hodge is a CFL insider and draft analyst who has been covering the league since 2014.