Lions to Pay Tribute to Simon’s Career Friday

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

Receptions: 1,114

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.

 

Former Blaze Coaches Now Achieving Individual Success

Flashback- 2012: In their sixth season in the Arena Football League, the Utah Blaze achieved a 12-6 record during the regular season, good for third place in the National Conference’s West Division, this after a 6-2 record through eight games, their best start ever.

Their success continued with a surprising playoff upset.

In the first round of the 2012 AFL Playoffs, the #4-seed Blaze narrowly defeated the #1-seed San Antonio Talons, 35-34 in a nationally-televised game on NFL Network.

However, in the next week’s National Conference Championship, the Blaze were extinguished by Kevin Guy’s Arizona Rattlers. Though Utah fought hard that August night, the eventual world champions disposed of them, 75-69.

For his efforts throughout the 2012 AFL season, Blaze head coach Ron James was voted the League’s Coach of the Year, and quarterback Tommy Grady  was named AFL Offensive Player of the Year

In 2013, the Blaze couldn’t find the magic that they had a year prior, and fell to last place in the division at 7-11.  After the season, both Utah and the Chicago Blaze folded.

In the 2013-2014 offseason, team owners required two-year commitments of their member clubs. Neither Chicago nor Utah filled out and submitted their respective commitment forms in time.  In the case of Chicago, they had no owners around to make a request.

All three members of the Blaze’s coaching staff are now employed as head coaches in Arena Football. Former Utah offensive coordinator Matthew Sauk was the first to be hired in such capacity, taking the reins of the expansion Portland Thunder last October 9.

Sauk, the 2011 and 2012 Arena Football Assistant Coach of the Year,  began his AFL coaching tenure as the Spokane Shock’s offensive coordinator in the 2010 season, which saw the Shock capture ArenaBowl XXIII 69-57 over the Tampa Bay Storm.

Now, the 5-13  Thunder have secured a playoff spot. By virtue of the LA KISS’ 72-65 defeat to the San Antonio Talons last Saturday night, Portland has clinched the #4-seed in the National Conference bracket, setting up a first round battle against the Arizona Rattlers on August 3.

Rob Keefe was the defensive coordinator for the last year and a half of the Blaze franchise. Utah, who had allowed 64 points a contest prior to Keefe’s arrival, gave up only 51 a game en route to the team’s playoff run in 2012. Just two days before Christmas, Keefe was hired as the head coach of the Orlando Predators.

Under Keefe’s watch in Orlando, the Predators have gone 10-7 this season, and have clinched the South Division and #2-seed in the American Conference bracket, setting up an interesting first round matchup versus the #3-seed Pittsburgh Power at home.

Speaking of the Power, Ron James was hired as head coach  in the bye week between the games against Cleveland and San Jose to begin the season. James has turned the ship around tremendously.

Currently, the Power are on an 11-game winning streak, which has enabled the team to secure its first postseason berth in the process.

The working relationship between James and Tommy Grady has also aided the Power in their success. With one game remaining before the playoffs, Grady has thrown for 4,581 yards and 108 touchdowns this year.

When the individual successes of these three coaches come to mind, so does the quote from LeBron James about his former Miami HEAT teammates Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh: “We are brothers for life.”

Much like the Big Three, the former Blaze coaches forged a brotherhood themselves.

Cornish Still Out for Stamps, Could Return July 24

Back in Week 1, Calgary Stampeders running back Jon Cornish took the now-infamous clothesline hit to the head from Montreal Alouettes linebacker Kyries Hebert in a 29-8 Calgary victory.

As you’ll recall, Hebert was given the maximum allowable fine (50 percent of a game check), but wasn’t suspended for the Als’ July 4 24-9 home opener win over the BC Lions. Cornish has been out of action for the Stamps ever since that illegal blow.

Over the weekend, Cornish told the press that he’d be ready to practice starting yesterday. Yesterday came and went, and there was no sign of Cornish on the practice field. Today’s practice came and went, and Cornish returned to the field.

Cornish’s time on the practice field was limited to just individual workouts today, and slotback Nik Lewis was present for the team workouts.

Stampeders head coach John Hufnagel confirmed to the press that Cornish will be out of this Friday night’s game versus the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (10:00 p.m. Eastern Time, TSN, TSN GO, ESPN2, ESPN3.)

Calgary will also be without linebackers Keon Raymond and Deron Mayo.  Nik Lewis will start in Friday’s game, providing a much-needed boost to the Stamps, who are looking to improve to 3-0 with a victory over the Ti-Cats this week.

Hufnagel’s decision to keep Cornish out of the game is a precautionary measure.

Calgary Sun sports reporter Scott Mitchell said today that Hufnagel hopes to have Cornish back in time for next Thursday’s game versus the Edmonton Eskimos (9:00 p.m. Eastern Time, TSN, TSN GO, ESPN3,) 27 days removed from the clothesline hit.

Still, without Cornish in the backfield, the Stamps have done well in the rushing department. In last Saturday’s 34-15 Calgary win over the 1-2 Toronto Argonauts, running backs Matt Walter and Jock Sanders combined for 61 yards on 15 carries.

Sanders made a huge splash in the first half of the win, returning a missed Swayze Waters field goal 121 yards down to the Argos’ 5-yard line, which led to a Stamps touchdown.  This return won Sanders the CFL Special Teams Player of the Week Award for Week 3.

Calgary assistant head coach Dave Dickenson isn’t too concerned about the absence of Cornish this weekend.

“Our certainty is we’ll have good tailbacks playing [on Friday].” Dickenson told the press yesterday. “I saw him and I thought he looked pretty good, so I’m happy for him. He’s, at least, closer, but no pressure from our organization for Jon to rush [back from injury].”

Dickenson says that the team will monitor Cornish’s progress, “but he did look back to being himself a few days ago, actually.”

Jon Cornish is the most integral piece to this Calgary Stampeders team. Having Cornish at 100 percent next week will help the team immensely.

This is only the Stampeders’ third football game of the year, so if there was a good time for them to be without Cornish, now is it. Having Cornish at full strength in October will be more vital than having Cornish at only 85 percent this Friday.

Don’t fret, Stamps fans. Your team will be fine without Cornish this week.

Siegel Buys Preds; Team Returns to Amway in ’15

To paraphrase Skylar Grey, “They’re comin’ home, they’re comin’ home, tell the world they’re comin’ home.” Yes, the Orlando Predators, who had to spend this season playing home games inside the University of Central Florida’s CFE Arena, are returning to their former arena, the Amway Center.

It’s all thanks to new ownership. David Siegel, the owner of Westgate Resorts, an Orlando-based timeshare, bought the Predators franchise recently.

His acquisition was made official in a Tuesday afternoon press conference, where it was also announced that Jared Saft, executive of Westgate Resorts, would become the team’s new president. Siegel was unanimously voted as the new owner of the Predators by the AFL’s board of directors.

Siegel plans to team the Predators up with his Westgate Resorts Foundation, a nonprofit which backs local charities in Orlando. He plans to use proceeds from game tickets as a means of fundraising for such charities and will donate free tickets to underprivileged youths.

Orlando previously called Amway home from 2011 to 2013, after which time, declining attendance forced the ballclub to default on its lease with the venue, prompting the move to the CFE Arena.

Siegel’s purchase of the Predators ends a two-month stretch where the franchise was without an owner. Back in May, Predators managing partner David Pearsall  stepped down from the position.

According to a report from Wednesday morning’s Orlando Sun Sentinel, Siegel will be aggressive in his attempt to get crowds to come to the games.

“We’re going to fill up the 18,000 seats in this arena or die trying,” the 79-year-old Siegel told the press on Tuesday afternoon “and I don’t plan on dying any time soon.”

During Siegel’s press junket, he announced that head coach Rob Keefe will remain in such capacity, and he’ll also oversee all personnel changes.  Keefe discussed the workload the franchise has been putting in this year.

“We’ve been burning the midnight oil,” Keefe said to the media. “We’re [working] 20-hour days right now. I think the new ownership understands that and they recognize that we stabilized an environment that was very unstable. Now we can all get together and look forward to the future as a positive.”

The press conference, which was also attended by members of the Orlando Solar Bears, a minor league hockey team which will share Amway Center as its home with the Predators and NBA’s Orlando Magic next season, and Orlando City SC, the newest franchise in Major League Soccer, included remarks from Arena Football commissioner Jerry Kurz on Siegel.

“It was important for us to find somebody who was a visionary, not just in business, which he is, but also doing good for the community,” Kurz said.

“All of our teams need to be doing good for the community, and this one needs to be again. This is an important franchise not just to this city, but to this league.”

David Siegel is a very bright businessman. His initiatives will help the Predators organization, as well as the local economy in the Orlando area, tremendously in the long run.

This also has to ramp up the enthusiasm of the players associated with the team. Think about it: They’re in the lead in the South Division, they’re in the playoffs in all likelihood, and now they’re going back home next year. If I’m a Preds player, coach, or fan, color me excited for 2015.

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Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ Zach Collaros ruled out for Friday’s game

drewzuhoskydaily:

Ti-Cats turning to Masoli.

Originally posted on Metro News:

HAMILTON – The Hamilton Tiger-Cats will be without their starting quarterback when they take on the Calgary Stampeders at McMahon Stadium on Friday.

Ticats head coach Kent Austin said after practice Sunday that Zach Collaros will miss Hamilton’s next game due to injury. He also said there is no timeline for Collaros’ return, and a decision on who will start versus Calgary will be made later in the week.

Austin says he is hopeful that wide receiver Andy Fantuz, who suffered a concussion in the pre-season, will be able to play Friday.

Collaros was injured during the second quarter of the Ticats’ Week 2 loss in Edmonton. The 25-year-old was flattened by a helmet hit to the chin by Eskimos defensive lineman Odell Willis and was taken out of the game. He did not return.

Austin would not say whether the injury was a concussion.

“It’s a combination,” Austin said…

View original 77 more words

San Antonio Talons on the Move Again?

Flashback: September 21, 2011- After moving up to the Arena Football League in the 2010 season as a result of Arena Football 2 dissolving after 10 years the previous season, the franchise which was once known as the Tulsa Talons relocated to the San Antonio metropolitan area.

The move was prompted after the Talons, who were financially stable in their af2 days, only averaged 6,600 and 5,100 fans per game in 2010 and 2011, respectively, despite the team clinching playoff berths in each of those two seasons.

The Talons then-chairman, Paul Ross, stated that in order for a franchise in the AFL to be deemed financially successful, they have to average around 8,500 fans a game per year.

Tulsa had previously thrived in af2, calling what is now the 8,900 Cox Business Center home. In eight out of the 10 seasons that af2 was in existence, the Talons captured Central Division championships, winning the ArenaCup two times.

The Talons also made the af2 Playoffs in each of the League’s 10 seasons, and this success has continued with the move to the AFL and San Antonio.

After winning the now-defunct Central Division of the Arena League in 2010 in Tulsa, they captured the title for the last time in 2012 as the San Antonio Talons.

Fast-forward to 2014. With only two weeks to go, the 1-15 Talons are sitting in the cellar of the Western Division and are now looking ahead to 2015. However, there’s one question surrounding the fate of the franchise.

The $64,000 question for the Talons is will they be playing their games inside the Alamodome in San Antonio, or will they even be playing in San Antonio next season?

This question could be answered soon. If no viable owner or ownership group can be found, the Talons will pack up and relocate for the second time.  At present, there are no owners willing to fund the club.

Fans of the Talons have taken matters into their own hands. Members of the Facebook group Black N Blue Crew have created a petition on change.org, asking the League to keep the Talons home in San Antonio. If you’d like to sign this petition, you can do so right here at:

http://www.change.org/petitions/arena-football-league-keep-the-talons-in-sa#share

10,000 signatures are needed in order to send the petition off to the AFL offices in Chicago. At present, 755 people have signed the petition.

The state of Texas is a football state. Football is as popular in the Lone Star State as it is in Ohio. It isn’t just a sport to these people, it is a way of life. Consider all those times when the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Oilers played each other in the NFL, or the annual Red River Shootout in the Big 12.

The entire state would shut down to watch those games. They were de facto state holidays. It would be a shame if San Antonio were to lose the Talons, because they are the city’s lone pro football team.

Best of luck to the Talons organization as they continue their search for new ownership. Hopefully, this team will get to stay in San Antonio for the long term.

#Indians with .500 First Half; Still Work to Be Done

It’s now the official halfway point of the 2014 Major League Baseball season. By now, most of the 30 teams in MLB have a pretty good idea of who’s contending for a playoff berth, who’s on the fence, and who’s already counting down the days until Spring Training 2015.

Last year, the Cleveland Indians posted a 51-44 mark going into the All-Star break. At the close of play on July 14, 2013, the Tribe was in second place in the American League Central Division race by 1 1/2 games over the eventual three-time division champion Detroit Tigers.

364 days later, the Indians head into this season’s All-Star hiatus with a 47-47 mark, trailing Detroit by eight games for the division lead, though that could be trimmed to 7 1/2 by the end of the day if Detroit loses to Kansas City at Kauffman Stadium. The Tigers and Royals were tied at 2-2 in the bottom of the 7th inning of their game today.

The Indians did a fine job swinging the bat on their just-completed ten-game homestand, during which they went 6-4. Lonnie Chisenhall holds the team lead in batting average (.328,) besting Michael Brantley by six points. Chisenhall also now holds the lead in on-base percentage (.392.)

Brantley still continues to hold the lead in home runs (15), RBI (63), and hits (115.) If both men catch fire coming out of the All-Star break, it just might be a catalyst for the rest of the team.  It’s no wonder as to why Brantley was selected for the American League All-Star team, either. He’s been absolutely awesome so far this year.

Yan Gomes has also been swinging a good bat as of late. He enters the four-day break hitting .261, while Michael Bourn and Mike Aviles have batted .267 and .270, respectively.

In terms of pitching, Corey Kluber, who finished second in last week’s Final Vote for the American League All-Star roster, leads the staff in wins (9), ERA (3.01), and strikeouts (143.) Cody Allen, who has been the team’s acting closer ever since John Axford’s demotion, has made 12 saves in 13 opportunities this season.

When the subject is fielding, Michael Brantley is the leader among players currently on the roster. In 165 total opportunities to make a put out, he’s recorded it on 154 times, good for a fielding percentage of .994. David Murphy has been 144-for-147 in such opportunities (.993 fielding percentage.)

The Indians will need to improve defensively if they wish to make a push for the second season down the stretch, however. Through the season’s first 94 ballgames, they’ve made 76 total errors.

Over the course of the entire season in 2013, they made 98 errors. If the 76 errors to begin this year are any indication, it’ll be harder for the Tribe to make the playoffs.

There is still plenty of time left to make a push, but the Indians need to start contacting other teams for trades very soon.

If I’m Mark Shapiro, and I know my team wants to make a run at October and they do, I start working the phones, gauging interest for players during the All-Star break.

This team has plenty of potential to be a contender in the second half of the season, which starts off with 10 straight games in the division on a three-city road trip.

They come out of the All-Star break with a four-game series against Detroit, including a day/night doubleheader next Saturday as a result of a snowed-out game on April 15, followed by three-game sets versus the Twins and Royals.

The question is will the team be able to realize the potential?

SCORE UPDATE: Royals defeat Tigers, 5-2. Indians deficit now 7 1/2 games.

 

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