Star Lions slotback surpasses Stegall in first game of 2012 season
VANCOUVER - Geroy Simon became the CFL's all-time receiving leader in dramatic fashion Friday night.
The star B.C. Lions slotback set the record on a 56-yard pass from Travis Lulay 4:57 into the fourth quarter.
Simon, a 36-year-old Johnstown, Pa., native was all alone as he hauled in the Lulay bomb along the sidelines and brought the ball to the Winnipeg 23-yard line.
Seconds afterwards, Simon was hugged by his 18-year-old son Gervon, who travelled from Johnstown to witness history.
Simon bettered the mark of 15,153 yards held by retired Blue Bomber great Milt Stegall, now a TV broadcaster, who was on hand for the game.
After Simon established the new record, the game was stopped briefly and he was honoured in an on-field ceremony that included commissioner Mark Cohon, Lions general manager Wally Buono and Stegall.
"Congratulations," said Buono. "I know you've got a lot more left in you, by the way."
Simon achieved the feat in the same number of seasons — 14 — that it took Stegall, who played from 1995-2008, to set his record.
The Lions veteran entered Friday's contest needing just 67 receiving yards to take his place in history. He continued his career-long trend of doing memorable things in games involving the Bombers.
He began his CFL career with Winnipeg in 1999. He won a Grey Cup and the league's most outstanding player award in 2006 with the Lions in the Manitoba capital.
Then the Lions beat the Bombers for the sixth Grey Cup in franchise history last November.
Approximately 20 of Simon's friends and family members were on hand at B.C. Place Stadium for the occasion.
He had three chances to set the record in the third quarter. On the first, Winnipeg's Jonathan Hefney, the CFL's most outstanding defensive player in 2011, was called for pass interference as he blocked a Lulay pass with his back.
On the other try, Simon bobbled a Lulay pass as he attempted to make a diving catch one play after the Lions had made a successful on-side kick. A few minutes later, Simon could not squeeze a Lulay pass over the middle before the ball slipped through his hands to the ground.