CFL’s all-time leading receiver had something to prove
REGINA — Geroy Simon realizes the rest of the world thought he lost his superpowers this season at the advanced age of 38.
Cast aside by the B.C. Lions over the winter, the CFL’s all-time leading receiver played a bit part on a star-studded Saskatchewan team blessed with the likes of Weston Dressler, Chris Getzlaf and Taj Smith.
No one wants to witness a legend become a mere mortal. Not Wayne Gretzky. Not Willie Mays. Not Geroy Simon.
And so CFL fans bowed their heads all season long and pretended not to notice the future Hall of Famer plug away in the background.
On Sunday, in arguably the biggest moment for Saskatchewan since Tommy Douglas invented Medicare, Simon struck his trademark Superman pose in the end zone twice in a 45-23 Grey Cup victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. The decoy turned into the difference-maker.
“Who cares about age?” Simon asked defiantly as green and white confetti rain from the sky at Mosaic Stadium. “I showed I can still make plays when given the opportunity. Age means nothing. I can still play football. I’m still one of the best receivers out there. They can talk about that age stuff all they want.
That he did. With Hamilton leading 3-0 early in the first quarter, Simon slipped behind Evan McCollough — 12 years his junior — in man coverage to effortlessly reel in a 15-yard touchdown pass.
On cue, Simon put his hands on his hips and puffed out his chest in his Superman pose.
In the second quarter, with the wind at Darian Durant’s back, Simon caught the ball on the far sideline, shook off McCollough like a pesky mosquito and waltzed in to the end zone for a 42-yard major.
With the crowd roaring, he put his hands on his hips and puffed out his chest like Superman.
“That’s just Geroy,” said wide receiver Rob Bagg. “It just seems normal. The guy’s the greatest receiver of all time for a reason. We’ve got some weapons on this team, so the ball’s been spread around. But Geroy is still Geroy.”
Thing is, the B.C. Lions figured Geroy was no longer the Geroy of old last winter after 12 years of toil on the West Coast. Never one to shy away from a tough call, general manager Wally Buono reportedly asked the face of the franchise to take a 50 per cent cut on his salary of $205,000 and accept a lesser role.
“It was a tough decision,” he croaked, his voice hoarse from a nasty cold that forced him to call in sick for Friday’s practice. “It was a decision that I had to make for myself and my family and my career.
“They (the Lions) thought the things that everybody else thought, with me being 38 and all that stuff. And they were wrong.
Buono shipped Simon to Saskatchewan last January for receiver Justin Harper and a third-round draft choice in 2014. The very same day, Simon signed a new deal for one year (plus an option) with a base salary of $170,000.
The future Hall of Famer will go down in history as the only Saskatchewan Roughrider to ever catch two touchdown passes in the Grey Cup.