Lions lose a legend
By Eric Wilkins, Staff Writer
And just like that, the Lions all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns was gone. Geroy Simon was shipped off a few weeks ago to the hated Roughriders for receiver Justin Harper and a third-round pick. Wally Buono has done a bit of housecleaning lately and Simon wasn’t the only one getting a ride to the airport. Joining him are Arland Bruce III and Mike Reilly. There’s only one real loss there.
Go ahead and throw your rotten tomatoes at me, but not only is trading Simon not a bad thing, what they managed to get in return makes it a good move. A receiver who can step right in and contribute along with a draft pick for a guy that clearly didn’t have it last year? Let’s face it: if it were any other 37-year-old who put up that mediocre season, fans would be over the hill about this trade. And that’s really the way you have to look at things. It’s not about what players have done in the past because legacies mean nothing. It’s all about what they can do now. It seems like after years of watching how being “loyal” to his players only succeeded in screwing him up (see: Casey Printers and Dave Dickenson fiasco), Buono has finally realized that personal attachment has no part in building a team. The club is instantly better for it.
Coming back to Simon though, you have to feel for the guy. As much as one wants players like him to realize they’re done and hang up their cleats, you have to admire the level of fight he’s still got in him. He refuses to give up. Doesn’t want to believe it’s over. It’s a defiant cry that will ultimately be drowned out by a miserable season. Yes, for some this will be an ugly end to a great career, but try not to see it that way. It’s his last stand; a chance to prove to himself that he’s still got it. It’s that heart that separates the great receivers from the good ones.
Is it a foregone conclusion that he’ll fail with Saskatchewan this year? Yes. While (for Simon’s sake, not those damned watermelon-headed Roughrider fans) I hope he proves me wrong, there’s little doubt about it. Simon has always thrived as a smart speed player. He doesn’t have an incredible vertical. He doesn’t have the best hands. He’s just been one of the smoothest and fastest players on the field who knows where to be. I can’t count the number of times he’s dropped an easy catch, and any Lions fans who try to think otherwise are just fooling themselves. Simon rarely made those ballsy catches over the middle; he didn’t even put himself in the position to do so. It’s for that reason that he’s been able to have such a long and successful career. If you never take a big hit, it’s hard to get hurt. But the negatives aside, gosh was he good. Whether reeling in a long bomb or dancing through defenders, Simon was a force to be reckoned with. And now, in Saskatchewan, he’s finally had age catch up to him. He was injured for parts of last year and never quite looked the same. He was missing something in his step. He was nowhere near as effective. He might have a 500 yard year for the Riders but not much more.
The Lions lost a legend in the trade with the Roughriders, but it was for the best. A solid prospect and a draft pick came to BC in the trade and Buono found out how to run a team. As for Simon, there’ll always be Geroy’s Corner waiting for him when retirement finally rolls in.