Simon fought for his dream

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:30 AM ET

It seems inconceivable now but the odds-on favourite to win CFL MVP honours spent the early part of his pro career getting locker-room doors slammed in his face.

B.C. Lions slotback Geroy Simon was cut by Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay of the NFL, with the Buccaneers actually releasing him four different times.

"You don't take it very well when you're released," Simon told the Montreal Gazette. "Your confidence is shot. At least I had a strong support group in my parents, who told me to keep fighting.

"I like watching people's biographies, and have found the people who are the most successful were persistent and fought for their dreams."

Simon's persistence has paid off. The Blue Bombers gave him a CFL job in 1999. After catching 51 passes for 725 yards and seven touchdowns for Winnipeg in 2000, Simon decided to try his NFL luck once again as a free agent. But he was incredulous when Kansas City cut him in 2001.

After calls to Winnipeg and Hamilton, Simon landed in Vancouver. Although his success there was far from immediate, the Leos decided to keep Simon after the Bombers expressed an interest in acquiring him.

Now, Simon leads the CFL with 73 receptions for 1,357 yards and a league-leading 12 touchdowns.

And there is a lesson to be learned from Simon's determination.

"Keep fighting for your dreams," he advised. "You're going to get knocked out. It's all about how many times you get up."

DYSLEXIC SAFETY: Simon is not the only CFLer who has overcome adversity to become one of the league's top players. B.C. safety Barron Miles suffers from dyslexia, the condition that causes the brain to jumble words, making reading and writing an adventure.

"In high school, they thought of me as just a dumb jock," Miles told the Vancouver Sun. "I was struggling in my second year at Nebraska, so they gave me a tutor. She'd give me the same questions I failed on the written test but I'd end up passing them orally. That's when they told my (football) coaches, 'Hey, we'd better get him tested.' From that point on, I'd go to class but I could only take notes mentally."

And that has not stopped him from learning the playbook so well that he currently leads the CFL with eight interceptions. Living with dyslexia, you see, has motivated him to become a better player and possibly even a coach in the future.

"More people tend to hide it than to make other people aware of it," said Miles, 34. "You're better off admitting your weaknesses and not be ashamed of it because you're only hurting yourself."

HASHMARKS: The CFL board of governors is expected to issue a salary cap of less than $4.5 million for next season later this month ... Hamilton QB Jason Maas has finally admitted that he had been bothered by strained abdominal muscles, which are starting to feel better now -- especially after a win ... Hamilton mascot Pigskin Pete plans to retire after 31 years of leading cheers at Ivor Wynne Stadium.


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