SPORTS

Geroy Simon signs contract extension with Lions, just 66 yards from Stegall mark

03/22/2012 05:09 EDT | Updated 05/22/2012 05:12 EDT
SURREY, B.C. - After getting a new contract out of the way, Geroy Simon can look forward to his goal of breaking the CFL's all-time receiving yardage record. But the veteran B.C. Lions slotback is looking beyond a chance to make personal history.

"I have my sights on a few different things personally that include wearing another Grey Cup ring," said Simon on Thursday at the club's Surrey, B.C., practice facility.

The 36-year-old from Johnstown, Pa., is entering his 12th season with the Lions and 14th in the CFL. Simon spent his first two campaigns with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

He is just 66 yards shy of former Bomber Milt Stegall's receiving milestone of 15,153. The record appears likely to be broken as the Lions begin defence of their 2011 Grey Cup on June 29 at home against Winnipeg.

"That (record) was more the focus last year, other than winning the Grey Cup and things like that — 67 yards is, hopefully, something that I can do early in the game or the first quarter or whatever to just get past it," said Simon.

He signed for a year, plus an option. Under the terms of his previous contract signed in 2009, he was due to play out his option this year.

"It's a great feeling to know that the team wants me for more than one year," he said. "Seeing so many veterans that are either retiring or getting released or moving on, it's good to know that the organization has confidence in me that I can play more than one year."

Two of his contemporaries, former teammate Brent Johnson, who retired earlier this month, and Winnipeg defensive lineman Doug Brown, who officially called it quits Wednesday, are among those moving on.

Simon said he might have more of a willingness to train and practice than the two defensive line stalwarts after they battled in the trenches for 11 seasons each. The receiver, who sought employment in the NFL before entering the CFL in 1999, said he put less mileage on his body because he played sparingly in his first two pro seasons after completing his collegiate career at the University of Maryland.

Both Johnson and Brown had careers lined up before they left the field. Johnson has become a financial advisor while Brown is slated to do some work in broadcasting.

But Simon, whose first choice is to get into coaching after he retires, is not ready to do any retirement planning yet.

"For me, I can't do two things at once at a high level," he said. "If I'm going to be a football player, I want to be 100 per cent committed to being a football player."

Simon, who lives in the Vancouver area year-round and is active in community projects, is also committed to remaining a Lion for the rest of his career. He had no intention of playing out his option and seeking employment elsewhere.

"When I got here in 2001, I wanted to lay some roots down and not be bouncing around as I did my first couple years as a professional," he said. "I never wanted to go into free agency. I did it once. ... After the team gave me an opportunity to be a No. 1 guy and gave me an opportunity to have huge success, I never really thought about leaving."

In 2011, Simon ranked second among all CFL receivers as he caught 84 passes for 1,350 yards and eight touchdowns. Lions general manager Wally Buono said there was no hesitation in trying to re-sign Simon.

The GM credited Simon's longevity to his ability to connect with different quarterbacks. Over the past 20 years, Buono said, the game has changed to the point where it's critical for receivers to be able to see eye to eye during plays and react to each other in a split second.

"It's an uncanny thing, but the great players like Geroy can mesh with different kinds of quarterbacks, and Geroy's had a few quarterbacks," said Buono.

With Simon signed, the Lions have now secured all of their offensive starters from last season, when they overcame a disastrous 0-5 start to claim the Grey Cup. (They caught a break when offensive lineman Jovan Olafioye was returned from the St. Louis Rams of the NFL because of an undisclosed medical issue and received clearance to resume playing with B.C.)

"We have a tremendous blend of skill players, we have a very physical offensive line and we have a great backfield," said Buono. "I don't want to put too much pressure on them, but they should be a force to be reckoned with."

Note: Buono said the Lions are still working on a new contract with No. 1 quarterback Travis Lulay, the CFL's most outstanding player last season. ... The Lions begin training camp in Kamloops, B.C., in late May.

MORE:cpSports