Geroy Simon might just be the most iconic player to don a B.C. Lions’ uniform, but he doesn’t believe he was given the full opportunity to advance his football operations career with his old club.
Simon was hired as assistant general manager of the Edmonton Elks this offseason after seven years in the Lions’ front office, where he rose from a player-business development advisor to the team’s director of Global scouting and United States regional scout. Many across the league felt that the Hall of Fame receiver was being groomed to become the team’s general manager, but ‘Superman’ felt a very different vibe from inside the organization.
“I think it was just one of those things where everybody else on the outside saw me as the next up-and-coming GM in B.C., but B.C. didn’t see it that way,” Simon told hosts Bryn Griffiths and Robin Brownlee on the Outsiders podcast.
“In actuality, it was just time for me to leave. I felt like my career was at a stalemate in B.C. and it was just time for me to move on and find a new opportunity.”
As a player, Simon racked up 14,756 receiving yards and 93 touchdowns for the Lions franchise, but he had known for quite some time that he wasn’t going to be given the chance to reach the same heights in the front office.
“I think probably at the end of 2018, the beginning of the 2019 season, I kind of felt like things were getting stagnant for me. I wasn’t progressing and doing the things that I needed to be doing to learn to become a GM moving forward,” Simon admitted.
“I kind of felt it when Ed Hervey was the GM there. Although I was doing a lot, I still wasn’t progressing in the manner that I thought I should be progressing and moving in the direction that I felt that was taking me in that direction [towards being a GM] I basically started that transition as early as 2019.”
Hervey resigned from his position as general manager during the cancelled 2020 season and Simon was among the names connected to the opening. Ultimately the Lions chose to go with split duties for the role, with head coach Rick Campbell and director of football operations Neil McEvoy becoming co-general managers.
Simon remained with the team for the 2021 season, but his fate was already sealed. When his friend Chris Jones was hired in Edmonton, there was no hesitation about leaving his long-time home to join the Elks.
With Jones also handling head coaching duties, Simon will have a lot on his plate in his new role. It could finally be the proving ground he needs to make the jump to a GM job, but first he is focused on resurrecting a dilapidated Elks team.
“I’m involved in every aspect, whether it’s signing, negotiating contracts, scouting players. I’m out there looking for talent all across North America and really across the world with the Global players now,” Simon said.
“I’m boots on the ground, I’m helping build from the ground up and that’s what excites me. When we’re holding a Grey Cup at the end of the year, it’s all gonna be worth it because I felt like I was a part of this thing from the bottom up.”
That’s something he didn’t feel the last few seasons in B.C.