Superman is a team-first super hero.
When the Saskatchewan Roughriders' Geroy Simon made CFL history, he actually looked disappointed. He didn't celebrate, he didn't sprint to the sideline and hand the ball to an equipment man for safe keeping, and he didn't get mobbed by teammates. The game wasn't stopped and there were no presentations made at centrefield. It was second down and ten when Simon caught the 1,018 catch of his illustrious career and he was tackled three yards short of a first down. At the time, the Riders were trailing and there was still work to do and the game was more important to the CFL's most productive receiver.
That team-first, game-first attitude just may be the number one reason why Simon has been so consistent and so productive for so many years. When asked about how he felt when he made the historic catch he said, "during the game I was frustrated, we weren't playing very well and we were trying to win a football game, the game was more important."
The former Maryland Terrapin also did not want the game stopped and informed the CFL head office that he didn't want any presentation made while the game was going on, due to what he experienced last year when he became the all-time leader in receiving yards. While he was honoured in 2012, the league and at the time the BC Lions, wanted to recognize his achievement and stopped the game to allow Geroy to address the home crowd. But he felt the break in the action caused him to temporarily lose his focus. "Last year when they stopped the game I felt like it threw our team off a bit and after I had to take the mic and talk to the crowd I felt like it threw everything off for me." Simon went on to say, "I just want to play and win the game."
Don't get Simon wrong; he is very proud of his accomplishments and appreciates the fact that the league, the teams he has played for, and the fans want to recognize those achievements. He just doesn't want it to effect his team's chance to win a football game.
The debate as to who is the best receiver in CFL history will go on forever and will be tailored to a football fans personal bias. A Stamps fan may make the argument for Allen Pitts, while a Bomber fan will say that Milt Stegal is the best all time. What is not debatable, however, is who is the most productive receiver in the over 100 year history of the Canadian Football League. Simon is most proud of the fact that these records have also coincided with winning football teams. He is a two time Grey Cup Champion and said it's the combination of the numbers and the wins that matters most. "The fact that I have put up numbers like that means I have been consistent and productive over all those years but it is the production plus the winning that is what really matters."
There is one other mark on the horizon. With one more 100 yard game, Simon will tie Allen Pitts who currently holds the league record with 64 in his career. But when asked about yet another record, Simon would not waiver from his team-first approach when he said, "again it means I have produced but what is most important to me is that if I get 100 yards receiving our team probably has a better chance to win and that is what I care about."
Friday night, Geroy Simon's new team - the Saskatchewan Roughriders - are in Vancouver to take on the Lions in a game that has huge playoff implications in the west and when it comes to home field advantage in the postseason. The Lions have said that they will recognize Simon's record with a mention on the big screen. Even though the majority of Geroy's catches were made as a member of the BC Lions, there will be no plaque presentation or special ceremony. The Lions have said he is a Rider now and they will acknowledge the accomplishment and move on because their focus is the game and Geroy now plays for the enemy. Simon wouldn't want it any other way. When he heard how the Lions are going to handle the CFL record set by their former receiver, his response was again as consistent as he was as a player. "It is nice that they will mention it but to be honest it wouldn't bother me at all if they did nothing. This is a huge game for us and we need a win; that is all I'm thinking about."
It is a big game. If the Lions win, they tie Calgary for first in the west and if the Riders win they stay in the race for home field advantage in the playoffs. It is also a game that will feature the most productive receiver in the game's history.