If you’re a BC Lions fan, you can’t help but feel a little jealous today.
The Montreal Alouettes have announced that Anthony Calvillo, pro football’s all-time leading passer will be joining their coaching staff. It’s natural progression for one of the greatest players in their history, who took a year to step away from the game he had conquered over a 20-year CFL career.
Alouettes fans got to watch their hero retire in their sweater, they got to celebrate him as an Alouette, and now they get to have him part of their day to day football operations again.
This is a far different ending than Lions fans saw at the end with Geroy Simon. Simon of course didn’t retire because of injury. He went out on top like all star players hope to do. He won his third Grey Cup to end his career and played a big part in that championship game as well. Of course the sad part is, he didn’t do it in a Lions uniform.
Certainly the situations were different. Simon still wanted to play a key role when he left the Lions. A role the Lions weren’t willing to offer, and certainly not at the salary Simon had commanded for many years. They had a young crop of receivers they wanted to play more, and in the end the two sides decided to part ways, with the Lions facilitating a trade to the Riders.
Outside of the Grey Cup game, Simon didn’t do much to prove that the Lions were wrong in their assessment on the football side of things. But if you take what he did in the final, and the words of praise and thanks directed at him by Darian Durant after the game, they may have under estimated what he brought to the locker room.
Clearly there was a fracture in the relationship between Simon and the Lions, one that was repaired somewhat by the retirement of his number and his addition to the Lions ring of honour this past season. But the Riders pounced on the opportunity to keep Simon in the organization, adding more salt to the wounds of Lions fans who want him back in BC as an ambassador if not more.
Of course the financial perks of being a football player in Regina, that played a big role in winning them a Grey Cup at home, are pretty attractive as well and Simon has continued his community work in the area with coat drives and many appearances representing the Riders.
The core of this team that Lions fans have been used to for so many seasons is eroding. Paris Jackson, Dante Marsh and Korey Banks are another three examples. On the other side of the coin, Brent Johnson and Angus Reid got to finish with the Lions.
Perhaps it’s just a matter of timing and Wally Buono is known for making tough decisions with popular players. That’s probably never going to change because his job depends on winning, and he has do make decisions that he feels are best for the club not only for the current season, but down the road as well.
There are signs that Simon will one day return to BC. He still lives here, as does his family. He was a VIP guest as the Lions’ Den party during Grey Cup week and of course time can heal most wounds and I think most, if not all of them have been healed.
All that’s needed is the right situation, and of course the invitation to be extended. Until then, you have to feel that Als fans are pretty pleased with the way their hero’s story ended. Time will tell if Lions fans will get to feel that way in the future about Superman.