The beauty of Geroy Simonâ€™s accomplishments is measured by his career receiving numbers, but to the gifted slotback of the B.C. Lions it also is represented by the number of players he has faced who are now CFL coaches.
Simon runs down the Lionsâ€™ schedule and for every game to date can list an opposing coach who couldnâ€™t match his 14-year career and turned in his uniform for a whistle. Markus Howell in Winnipeg, Jeremaine Copeland in Hamilton. Barron Miles. Dave Dickenson.
Another game, another coach. It will be another kind of sign, also rooted in pride, when the 36-year-old lines up Monday trying to beat the coach who threw him his first college touchdown pass at the University of Maryland, Scott Milanovich of the Toronto Argonauts.
Milanovich was the quarterback of the Atlantic Coast Conference team in 1993 and Simon was one of his primary targets at Maryland. The careers of the two Pennsylvania products went in separate directions from that point, but will realign briefly then the 3-2 teams meet.
And though he might not be able to get into the head of his former quarterback as he did in college, Simon knows the Lions should be acutely aware their opponent is not going implode offensively as so often was the case in the past, simply because of who is now coaching the Argos.
OK, Ricky Ray at quarterback hasnâ€™t hurt, either.
â€œLook at their offence. Itâ€™s a lot better this year with a lot of the same parts. It shows you the level of coach he is,â€� Simon said of the rookie Toronto field boss, who took over in December after five seasons as offensive co-ordinator of the Montreal Alouettes.
â€œThe Montreal offence is a direct reflection of Scott Milanovich. Anthony Calvillo was throwing for big yards before Scott got there, but not 6,000 yards. When Scott got there he went to another level. You never see Ricky Ray drop back as fast as heâ€™s dropping back now.
â€œAnd when you see what he could do in a no-huddle system dealing with all the things that go with playing [at Maryland], you knew he could definitely coach one day.â€�
Milanovichâ€™s pro quarterbacking journey began with four unremarkable seasons with the NFLâ€™s Tampa Bay Buccaneers and ended with a different kind of assist from Simon.
The quarterback did not play again after he was pulled at halftime of a 2003 CFL game for the Calgary Stampeders in favour of Kevin Feterik, when he was being clobbered by Simon and the Lions in Wally Buonoâ€™s first game against his former club.
Milanovich never held that against his former receiver, nor anything else Simon did to establish his greatness with the Lions.
â€œIâ€™m really proud of him,â€� Milanovich said in a preseason interview. â€œI always felt if the right break would have come his way he would have been doing the same thing [heâ€™s doing] in Canada down in the NFL.â€�
But right time, right place is a storyline that could be composed by practically half the participants who will attempt to earn their stipend from dual owner David Braley Monday.
Milanovich took the Toronto job that previously had been turned down by the Lionsâ€™ Mike Benevides, who is almost having to map out his entire first visit as a rookie coach in his hometown, right down to scheduling a visit for his coaches to the Portuguese restaurant that was a one-time haunt.
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