How Cody Fajardo went from almost retiring to being Grey Cup MVP

At this time last year, Cody Fajardo was told that he wouldn’t be back with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, and he was contemplating whether or not he should retire from pro football. His wife, Laura, convinced him that he had more to give to the game, and he decided to make the move to Montreal. 


12 months later, Laura was proven right. The 31-year-old helped lead the Alouettes to an 11-win season in 2023 and he managed to quarterback them to their first Grey Cup victory in 13 years. Now, the Als franchise has rewarded the 110th Grey Cup MVP with a new extension that will keep him in Montreal through 2025. 


“To sit here and talk about an extension and to think where I was exactly one year prior, it’s completely crazy,” Fajardo admitted from his home in Reno, Nevada. “I told people I thought I was going to retire and I was legitimately, extremely close. It came down to free agency…If I didn’t get what I wanted, I was going to (retire). Laura told me my football days weren’t over. She said: ‘That’s not how you end your career on the way it happened in Saskatchewan.’”


Now that he’s built a strong foundation with his new team, extending with the Alouettes was a no-brainer for Fajardo, who still had one year remaining on his previous contract. He believes that this team has a strong nucleus of players that can compete for a long time. 


“Our team is so young,” exclaimed Fajardo. “We have a lot of guys who want to be back that are (pending free agents). I just felt like I wanted to be part of this. I wanted to continue to be a small part of this unbelievable organization.


“I believe this team will be a contender year after year.” 


The championship run aside, Fajardo learned a lot about himself this past season. He admitted to being nervous about becoming a vocal leader on a new team. Once he saw the final roster, he realized that he was going to have to be a key cog on a young squad. He wanted to be the guy that they looked to for guidance. 


“In terms of my leadership, that’s where I feel I experienced the most growth,” the former Nevada Wolf Pack quarterback said. “That was behind closed doors, where people don’t get to see.


“I got pulled out of my comfort zone signing with a new team. My leadership and how I was going to lead guys in a locker room that I had no prior relationship with was something that kind of scared me, but it also excited me.”


If there are any doubters who aren’t sure whether or not Fajardo can lead, just take a look at how he addressed his team the day before the Grey Cup. His passionate speech set the tone for Grey Cup weekend. 


“I didn’t think that the speech would get the legs that its gotten over the last month,” he admitted. “But I felt like, all year, I was holding back. I would talk to the offence and I would let guys know that I was proud of them or that they were doing a good job. I would get on them if I needed to, but I felt like that my opportunity to put that stamp on the team to just let them know I’m going to give them everything I’ve got.”

The high that comes with being the MVP of the championship game hasn’t completely faded for Fajardo, but he’s definitely living a different life during his off-season in Reno, Nevada. The Als quarterback has become a stay-at-home dad to his son, Luca, while Laura goes to work. That will last until training camp rolls around next May. 


But, unlike last year, there will be no question marks surrounding his future like there were going into last season. The organization continued their commitment to him, his family continued their commitment to the city Montreal, and the entire Fajardo clan is ready for football. 


“I felt the commitment (from Montreal) last year when they wanted for me two years,” he said. “Here we are, and they want to extend me for another year. The Fajardo family has some more football in us, and that’s what we’re excited about. We’re excited that we’re building something special in Montreal.”