For Simoni Lawrence, a true Ticat legacy is in sight

Simoni Lawrence doesn’t want to do a phone interview, he wants to FaceTime.

The video link has some distinct advantages, one in particular: it allows him to point his phone’s camera out the large window of his California condo, revealing a spectacular vista of brilliant sunshine, then laugh hysterically at the frozen-tundra he gets shown in return.

Lawrence has one of those infectious laughs, the kind that has a tendency to spread to others in the room. News that he’s signed a contract extension through the 2018 season should certainly put a smile on the face of Ticat coaches, teammates and fans.

The football side of it is obvious. Lawrence has been an elite-level player since virtually the moment he arrived in Hamilton before the 2013 season in what must now be considered one of the most lopsided trades in recent CFL history: Lawrence, quarterback Jeremiah Masoli and offensive lineman Greg Wojt to Edmonton  in exchange for linebacker Nathan Kanya and offensive lineman Carson Rockhill, both of whom are now out of the league.

Even without Masoli and Wojt (the team’s most outstanding lineman in 2013), Lawrence would have been a steal. He’s played in two Grey Cups, been an all-star three times, made 299 tackles and been named the East Division’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player in 2015. He provides on-field leadership, talks trash and is one of the most visible, accessible and likable players the franchise has.

He is not yet among the all-time great Ticat defenders – names like Covington, Zambiasi, Mosca – but with another half-decade of elite play, coupled with that elusive Grey Cup championship and he’ll be in the conversation. It’s in range: almost unbelievably, Lawrence is just 27 years old.

“I want to build a legacy. I see how fans treat Angelo Mosca, like he’s some kind of living super hero, which he is,” Lawrence said. “Football comes to an end for all of us, eventually and at a certain point you start to realize that what you leave behind matters.”

The extension is a much-needed bit of good news for Tiger Town where things have been a bit glum of late. The team struggled to a 7-11 record in 2016, got hosed by some egregiously bad officiating and bounced in the first round of the playoffs. Then defensive coordinator Orlondo Steinauer, one of the league’s bright young coaching stars, left for a glorious opportunity with Fresno State.

Lawrence’s decision to extend is a much-needed vote of confidence, reassurance from a player who has been here for all four years under football uber boss Kent Austin that things are alright.

“I love Orlondo and I’m super happy for the opportunity he’s getting – at least we didn’t lose him to another CFL team,” Lawrence said. “But I have faith in what we’ve built here, what we’re continuing to build.”

Of course, the Ticats also made it worth his while. Lawrence wouldn’t talk specifics, but the contract is more akin to a new two-year contract than it is an extension of the old one. CFL sources said it’s structured in a way that benefits both player and club – likely featuring a hefty signing bonus and a lower base salary – but puts him among the top three defensive players when it comes to take home pay.

“The Ticats show love,” Lawrence said.

He’s laughing again, that great big grin splashed across the tiny screen.

Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.
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Drew Edwards
About Drew Edwards (1092 Articles)
Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.

25 Comments on For Simoni Lawrence, a true Ticat legacy is in sight

  1. Steve Everhard // January 11, 2017 at 5:53 pm //

    Glad to see that the TiCats extended Lawrence, but this team has huge holes to fill in the defensive secondary, O-Line & WR. It is laughable to here that the TiCats are looking to resign Fantuz … dude won’t even be able to physically perform next season – his career is done.

    • Wow. Great pseudonym Steve! Did you think that up by yourself?

    • Steve,you must be soft in the head,not to perceive that a winner like Fantuz will come to perform in his career.

    • Terry Baxter // January 12, 2017 at 1:19 pm //

      Exactly so Steve. This is another example of Kent taking care of his own, thus leaving little money under the cap for needed areas. This regime has got to go. His spending on Laurent was outrageous!!! In return he loses Medlock and gets 26 tackles. Nice sneaky move Kent!, how about a DC????? A kicker???? A left guard???? This was a silly unnecessary move. Lawrence could have been signed to an extension anytime

  2. Tom Driver // January 11, 2017 at 5:57 pm //

    Agree with Mr. Hard. Hoping the TiCats still have the cap space to address the areas mentioned in the previous posts. However, I will also suggest that Austin/Tillman need to look at adding a K. Maher succumbed to pressure in the latter half of the season & his missed field goals were costly for the team.

    • Tom, better to sign Maher because it would be hard to improve on his performance and obtaining a kicker who was slightly better would drive up the salary cap.

    • Terry Baxter // January 12, 2017 at 1:20 pm //

      Exactly cats kicking was suspect at best last year. Waters is available.

  3. Love Simoni there Mr Edwards, but other than Rocky DiPietro, a slot back(a damn fine one at that!) I don’t remember a defensive player named DiPietro that Lawrence hasn’t already surpassed defensively.
    But, I am far from being an expert, and believe any day I can learn something new to be a day well earned.

  4. Drew – any scuttlebutt on a potential DC?

  5. I am open to signing Fantuz – give the guy some money to live on while rehabbing next year and better money the following year when he hopefully can return to the lineup. They did this for Jake Olsen(albeit a much younger player) last off-season when he never saw the field in 2016 and hopefully will return to the same form as before his injury.

    • Terry Baxter // January 12, 2017 at 1:37 pm //

      I would support that move mark. But Fantuz is getting up there in age. He also has a long history of injuries. I believe he has had concussion issues too. I would prefer to see him hang them up for his own good. It’s too bad he was injured just before becoming a FA. One year contracts can come back and bite players in the butt.

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  7. Ticat Mike // January 12, 2017 at 3:43 pm //

    Let’s talk about an athletes legacy after being a big part in winning a few championships. Team has too many holes right now – but Lawrence does fit in nicely – as CLB — secondary, MLB and a killer DE still needed. On offense – a better O line and run game. Now add a kicker possibly.

    • Terry Baxter // January 14, 2017 at 10:14 am //

      I agree. This guy couldn’t carry Zambiasi’s jock strap, let alone mosca’s. Legacy my eye!!!! He is ok but well short of legacy player. Get over yourself Simone.

      • Zambiasi was not that great of a linebacker – he was undersized and would probably not even crack the current linebacking corps that are much faster and stronger. Zambiasi was a healthy scratch for the 1983 playoffs. He played in streaks – he would come up with big intimidating hits but then missed plays too. Simoni has not been around long enough to compare the entire body of work but Simoni is definitely stronger, faster and an overall better athlete.

        • Terry Baxter // January 14, 2017 at 3:17 pm //

          Lol. Ya ok. If that is true, he was in his 8th year here. He came in ’76. Simon here has had only three years here. And if you want to see Big Ben take a look at 86 GC. He was in my opinion the best defensive player on the field that day. In his 11th year!!! If Simon stays around that long then we can talk.

          • Hogwash – Zambiasi played 78-87 and he was born in ’56 so he was a healthy scratch at age 27, same as Simoni is now. Zambiasi was good but not great – he is not in the Hall of Fame and never will be.

        • Terry Baxter // January 16, 2017 at 10:24 am //

          sure Simon is a great linebacker. In the ESF White ran over him through him and around. Simple Simon looked like a deer in headlights. And he has a big mouth. As far as class goes Simon leaves much to be desired.

          • We may have found some common ground – I would much prefer a guy that does his talking with his play and does not have a twitter account.

  8. Lawrence is the type of charater/allstar player we need. Fantastic to have him for a least 2 more years
    Would you anti-andy people rather have a healthy Fantuz playing for a rival? I think signing him was a good move if only to keep him out of other teams grasp
    Mahar was basically a rookie last year. Yes he tailed off at the end but I think he has potential to be a good steady kicker in the league.
    Ill ask as well… DREW any potential candidates for DC???

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  10. Terry Baxter // January 14, 2017 at 10:25 am //

    And I believe, the legends identified in this article actually made Canada their home. Covington is out west. Mosca lives in this area and has done since the 50s and one can still run into Ben zambiasi on any given day around town. Legends all.

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