Simon answers critics with record-breaking play against Bombers

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First Simon says, then Simon does.

It was that kind of week for B.C. Lions receiver Geroy Simon.

Bombarded with questions for days about what it was going to be like for him to break Milt Stegall’s CFL all-time receiving yards record, Simon gave thoughtful, eloquent answers, talked extensively about his past — including his time with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and their subsequent refusal to bring him back for a second stint — boldly predicted he expected to break the record, then went out and actually did it in the Lions 33-16 triumph on Friday.

In dramatic fashion, no less.

After securing four catches for 49 yards in the first half to put the mark directly in his sights, Simon actually had a couple passes slip through his fingers.

Then, after the Lions had built up their lead, history happened.

Simon snuck behind a secondary that was in zone coverage, then waited patiently as the pass from Lions QB Travis Lulay wobbled in the air before landing safely in his waiting arms.

“Thanks for pointing that out,” Lulay told reporters. “It’s okay. It’s awesome to be on the throwing end of that record.”

The crowd went wild and the game was stopped for a brief ceremony that included remarks from CFL commissioner Mark Cohon, Lions general manager Wally Buono and ultimately Simon, who thanked the Blue Bombers for giving him his start in the CFL.

“I was never worried about it not happening. I’ve been pretty consistent over my career. It was going to happen. It was just a matter of when. I had to relax,” said Simon. “I’m most proud of the legacy that I’m going to leave. I try to go out and play 100% and give it my all. I’m proud to be from Johnstown, Pa., a place nobody knows about, and to be honoured the way I’ve been honoured is a great feeling.”

What was it like in the moments following THE catch?

“I had a little bit of emotion when I grabbed the mic,” said Simon. “I’m happy it’s over and I’m happy we can just go play football now.”

Stegall, the longtime Blue Bomber and CFL Hall of Famer, was thrilled to be on hand for the monumental occasion. “Without a doubt,” said Stegall. “I was hoping he was going to get it. I don’t think my wife was going to let me fly back next weekend. It’s a special evening. People say are you mad? No, it’s all part of football. Records are meant to be broken and the fact it was broken by somebody who learned a couple of moves underneath me, it’s a great honour.

“Geroy is not only a great player, but more importantly, he’s a great person. I’m very happy for him, definitely. He’s like my long, lost son or whatever. I’m kicking myself. I taught him too much, too many tricks and he’s still using them.”

Simon finished Friday’s game with five catches for 105 yards and that total would have been higher, were it not for the great hustle of Blue Bombers defensive back Johnny Sears, who chased Simon down before he could waltz into the end zone on the record-breaking play.

“I wasn’t covering him. It was zone coverage,” said Sears. “There were a few missed assignments and he got behind the coverage. I just happened to be the one to tackle him.”