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“I had said to her the last three, four seasons, I really think what Winnipeg has going on is the best in the league,” Collaros said. “I said to her, ‘This could really be good for me and for you and for my career.’”
Collaros called linebacker Ian Wild, a Toronto teammate who’d spent six seasons in Winnipeg, and Justin Medlock, a former teammate in Hamilton who’d been the Bombers kicker the last four years.
A couple other players from around the league echoed what those two told Collaros: he’ll love it there.
“I wasn’t dreading the flight the next morning,” Collaros said. “I was anticipating it.”
Back in Winnipeg, players were doing the same thing in reverse, finding out about their new quarterback.
“I immediately texted guys who’d played with him before,” Bombers O-lineman Pat Neufeld said, naming his good friend and Saskatchewan centre, Dan Clark.
“He couldn’t say enough good things about Zach,” Neufeld said. “As a teammate, as a person and as a football player.”
Bombers GM Kyle Walters figured there might be one player who wouldn’t be thrilled: quarterback Chris Streveler.
Walters had scrambled to complete the swap before the deadline, and didn’t even have time to let head coach Mike O’Shea know before the transaction appeared on the league’s daily status report.
“As soon as it cleared, I’m like, ‘Oh, f—.’ I go racing to Mike’s office,” Walters recalled.
“And sure enough, he sees the move on the status report. He wants to talk to Chris before Chris hears about it… through the media or Twitter or whatever the hell.”
It turned out there was no reason to worry how Streveler would react.
“Like a pro,” Walters said. “He understands.”
Collaros’ new teammates would quickly understand they weren’t just getting another quarterback.
And Collaros would be needed sooner than anybody could have predicted.
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