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Most people in BC know Geroy Simon today. After 15 Canadian Football League seasons (12 with the BC Lions), Simon established himself as one of the greatest receivers in CFL history and ‘Superman’ remains one of the franchise’s most recognizable faces in retirement. You could throw one of the most popular athletes in the past 25 years of BC sport on top of that with no argument.

But few people know how close Simon came to never playing in BC at all. After being cut from four NFL teams in the late 1990s, producing two solid CFL seasons with Winnipeg, and then getting cut from Kansas City, he was ready to retire. On September 11th, 2001—his birthday—he planned to fly out and join the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. The terrorist attacks in the eastern US that morning grounded all air travel for several days, enough time for Hamilton to change its’ mind about him. Out of luck again, the Lions gave him one last shot. After one day on BC’s practice roster, he caught a touchdown pass in his first game and the rest was history. Simon re-wrote the Lions’ record book, won two Grey Cups with BC, added a third with Saskatchewan, and BC became his home.

Born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, Simon grew up a diehard Pittsburgh Steelers fan in the days of Terry Bradshaw and ‘Mean’ Joe Greene. Becoming a pro athlete was his goal from the beginning and he tagged along with his older brother Gerrod playing every sport available. At Johnstown High School, basketball was his first-choice sport, he loved baseball, and he became all-state in track, but football was his best path to the pros. Four years starring at the University of Maryland—including ranking fourth in the nation in receptions his sophomore year—and the ensuing years struggling to catch on in the NFL and CFL battle-hardened him for success in BC.

With Bob Ackles and Wally Buono overhauling the roster and quarterback Dave Dickenson and Simon leading on-field, the Lions shot to the top of the CFL for much of the next decade. Simon led the Leos to six West Division titles and three Grey Cup appearances, winning in 2006 and 2011, the latter dramatically on BC Place’s home turf. Individually, he won the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player Award in 2006 and was named a CFL All-Star six times and a CFL West All-Star on seven occasions.

Simon currently ranks as the CFL’s all-time career leader in receptions (1029) and receiving yards (16,352), while scoring 103 touchdowns, most punctuated with his signature ‘Superman’ pose in the end zone. His combination of durability, speed, toughness, charisma, and community involvement set a new standard for CFL receivers.

After one season in Saskatchewan in 2013, he returned to the Lions. “It just felt right,” he said. “BC was home.”

Simon currently serves as BC’s director of Canadian scouting and player personnel assistant.

Written and researched by Jason Beck, Curator of the BC Sports Hall of Fame.