The "elephant in the room" is a saying which describes an obvious truth that is being ignored or going unaddressed. Geroy Simon, the CFL's all-time leader in yardage and one of its best receivers ever, has either passed his expiry date or is being utilized as an overpaid fourth receiver with the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
I read an article this past week entitled, "Can Geroy and the Roughriders win again?", referring to the losing slump that the Riders have found themselves in late in the season. No disrespect to Simon, but the Riders have never been about him this season.
I shake my head every time I see Simon assigned a weak-side blocking assignment. When he arrived in Regina as a free agent, Simon knew that he was going to be a "complimentary" piece of the offensive puzzle. But really... Geroy Simon assigned to "slush block" a defensive lineman as the play moves away from him? what a waste. I know Simon is saying all of the right "team-first" things. But his lack of utilization in the offence has to be killing him on the inside.
When the Riders desperately needed a score this past week, Simon was nothing more than a decoy during the touchdown pass-and-catch to Weston Dressler late in last Sunday's 24-22 loss to the B.C. Lions. Riders offensive co-ordinator George Cortez is either completely out of his mind not to use Simon's skills or he has recognized that Simon, at 38, is nothing more than a third- or fourth-option receiver that can give a good pep talk in the locker room after a loss.
The irony of it all? Lions general manager Wally Buono was highly criticized for asking Simon to restructure his lucrative contract and bring it more in line with his reduced role on the team.
After 13 weeks of football, only 10 per cent of passes thrown by Riders quarterback Darian Durant have been completed to Simon. In the nine games he has played for Saskatchewan, Simon is averaging three receptions and 45 yards. If that is not a reduced role, then I don't know what is. The difference is Saskatchewan was willing to pay for it because the Grey Cup was in their back yard.
The reason why Simon continues to downplay the media focus on breaking Ben Cahoon's career reception record is because he would much rather have the media talking to him about a game-winning reception this year. Simon wants to be talked about for doing the spectacular, not for doing the ordinary consistently well.
Ask yourself this question: Are we talking about Simon this week because he is a current offensive game-changer for the Riders? Or for the player that he once was.
Simon has had an amazing career and the fact that he will be the CFL's career leader in receptions and receiving yardage is evidence of this and we should take a moment to reflect and celebrate his success. That said, Simon is not interested in being nostalgic. He wants to be relevant right now.
Simon understands that impact in football is never measured by what you do in the first two thirds of the season, but rather in the final third. He understands the game so that well he is someone Durant can trust to see the same coverage he sees and to be in the right spot at the right time. There is still no better than Simon at making the clutch catch thrown into a small window over the middle of the field.
The Riders will ride the Kory Sheets bus once he is healthy. But if they're going to advance through the playoffs this year, they'll also need clutch catches from Simon. I anticipate that, at some point during the playoffs, we will see Simon do something spectacular and, if he has a chance to hoist the Grey Cup one more time, he will smile because people will remember him as he wants them to.
Follow Greg Frers on Twitter @frersCBCsports
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