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Blue Bombers QB Collaros taking it all in at Grey Cup week

Zach Collaros Blue Bombers Zach Collaros - The Canadian Press

HAMILTON – Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ Zach Collaros is in the midst of preparing for his fourth Grey Cup appearance in as many seasons, but just now is the veteran quarterback able to take it all in.

"I think just as you get older, and (I've) been asked that a couple of times this week, you just appreciate it a lot more and you understand how fast it goes," Collaros said Saturday ahead of the 110th Grey Cup against the Montreal Alouettes.

"So you just try to soak it all in, spend as much time with your team as you possibly can. And whether that's watching tape, grabbing a bite to eat, swimming in the pool, recovery, and all those different things."

"I just think it means more because you understand how hard it is to get here and how fast it all goes (by). Win or lose there's not another game after this one."

The 35-year-old Collaros has been around the block a few times, having captured a Grey Cup title in 2012 with the Toronto Argonauts and leading the Bombers to back-to-back titles in 2019 and 2021.

And while his fourth kick at the can Sunday will be with a lot of familiar faces, Collaros has been encouraging his younger teammates to enjoy all that Grey Cup week has to offer while staying focused on the task at hand Sunday.

"I think we just preach to stick to our process that we have all season long," he said. "Everybody prepares for the game a little bit different.”

“There's some distractions and things like that going on during the week. But I think we have really great leadership in each position group. And we're able to keep all that stuff at a minimum, and you can really focus on what's important."

"I always just say to everybody, 'Just be yourself.' It's the Grey Cup and the magnitude of it is greater, but when the whistle blows and the ball snaps it's just another game."

Taking a moment to think not of the game Sunday, but his entire run with the Bombers, Collaros admitted that it's not the rings he'll remember the most.

"Probably the losses," he said with a chuckle. "It's really a special group. I think the thing that you always remember the most in any team sport is the people. Certainly, the friendships you've made; the funny moments in the locker room, the funny things that have happened at practice or in the meeting room."

"Getting to know each other and each other's families and just making life-long relationships, I think that's the stuff you always cherish and will remember."

Willie Jefferson, who has been right by Collaros’ side during the Bombers' dynastic run, echoed the same sentiments.

"I enjoy all of it," the 32-year-old defensive end said Saturday on Grey Cup week. "Just the simple fact of winning the West Final and knowing that we’re coming to the Grey Cup, having an opportunity to show the young guys, the rookies, what it is like to be at a Grey Cup.”

"You don't take things like this for granted," Jefferson continued. "The CFL isn't big so everybody pretty much knows everybody... I know somebody who's never been to a Grey Cup, who's never had the opportunity to experience what it's like to be at a Grey Cup. So me having this opportunity, I don’t take it for advantage.”

"I'm a leader, and I don't want guys to slack off and just think that this is just another trip and things like that. We're here to handle business, we're here to take care of business, we're here to play a game and win."