Reilly reflects on the past, looks to the future as new season starts for Lions
Quarterback Mike Reilly with his teammates in Kamloops for the team's training camp.
Published Wednesday, May 22, 2019 4:34PM PDT
When B.C Lions quarterback Mike Reilly steps onto the football field, he commands attention.
The Washington native deserves it. Between his two Grey Cup championships, and his Most Outstanding Player honour, Reilly is arguably one of the best the league has to offer.
“Mike just brings a different feel to the game,” wide receiver Bryan Burnham told CTV News. “He’s been doing this for a long time at a high level and is the best quarterback in the league for a reason and you see it. The spin he puts on that ball is not like anything I’ve ever experienced.”
This is Reilly’s second stint with the Leos. His first was back in 2011 when he played backup to Travis Lulay. Lulay is now retired, and Reilly decided to return to B.C. when his contract ran out after five seasons with the Edmonton Eskimos.
"To get back out to Kamloops, it was a reminder of what it's like,” Reilly said. “Last time I was here, I was in a totally different place in my life, fighting for a job, trying to prove I was good enough, and now I come in as a veteran starter. So it’s come full circle."
At 34-years-old, Reilly knows he’s not the youngest quarterback around, but he’s using his experience to help mentor others on the team.
This year’s squad is full of speedy, fresh young talent, which should work well with Reilly’s skills.
"It’s funny, I'll take reps with guys and I’m like, ‘Man, my first year in this league, you were probably in elementary school,’” Reilly joked. “They're into different things and you have to understand and you have to force them to grow up and the ones that do, are the ones who make it."
In his ninth year in the league, Reilly has learned to embrace the mentorship role, as he feels creating that family bond with his teammates is the key to success.
His confidence off the field is just as polarizing. The QB has been known for his extensive hat collection, which he rocks on game days and during media interviews.
“I always have to do media on the road and I don't want to have a stale thing so I wanted to change it up,” Reilly explains. “But the problem is, once you do it a few times, then the expectations keep going up and up, so I have 20 or 30 hats in my closet now.”
Expect all eyes to be on his style and play when the Lions regular season kicks off June 15.