At the close of the 2013 CFL season, Geroy Simon, who spent 15 seasons with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, B.C. Lions, and Saskatchewan Roughriders, was unsure as to whether or not his playing career would continue.
Simon had a decorated 15-year run, highlighted by nine consecutive seasons with at least 1,000 receiving yards with the Lions and 13 years with at least 700 receiving yards all told.
He’s the third CFL player to have 1,000 career receptions and first to have 16,000 career receiving yards. These achievements were logged in successive games last season during Simon’s one-year stint with Saskatchewan.
Simon achieved this after the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers inked him to a contract to be part of their practice squad in 1997, at which time he had hoped to make it big stateside, but it never materialized. After weighing his options, the former Maryland Terrapin decided to take his talents to Canada.
Back in the spring, amid the labor strife between the CFL and its players’ union, Simon made a headline of his own. On June 4, he called a press conference to announce that he was hanging up his cleats after a decade and a half of pro football.
At the press conference that afternoon, Simon recalled his three Grey Cup championships as the most gratifying part of his career.
“Hands down,” he said “those are the three most important times in my career and my most cherished accomplishments. When I first got here [in the CFL]. winning wasn’t that important to me, it was my individual success.”
However, as time progressed, Simon’s attitude toward success changed to a team dynamic.
“I think the maturity of being here and evolving as a person, as a player with a few great organizations,” he told the media “switched my thinking to where it stopped being about individual success as opposed to winning games and winning Grey Cups.”
Simon’s final career statistics read out like this: NOTE: Statistics reflect both regular and postseason games.
Games played: 259
Receiving yards: 17,580 (CFL record in the category)
Average yards per reception: 15.7
Longest reception: 103 yards (achieved in 2003 with the B.C. Lions)
Touchdown receptions: 110
To commemorate Geroy Simon’s illustrious CFL career, Kerry Jang, deputy mayor of Vancouver, British Columbia declared on Monday that this Friday, July 25, will be Geroy Simon Day throughout the city.
As part of the celebration, the Lions will pay tribute to Simon in a halftime ceremony at Friday’s home game versus the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (10:00 p.m. Eastern Time, TSN, TSN GO, ESPN3, WatchESPN.) During the ceremony, the Lions will also retire Simon’s #81 jersey.
Simon is a man who had a very successful playing career, and he remains very grateful for all the opportunities he was given and made the most of. All of the tributes he will receive later this week are well deserved.
What Jerry Rice was to the NFL, Geroy Simon was to the CFL. Hats off to him.