For over a decade Geroy Simon wore a B.C. Lions' uniform while carving out a legacy as arguably the best receiver in CFL history.
Simon will face his old teammates for the first time Sunday wearing a Saskatchewan Roughriders' jersey when the Lions travel to Regina.
"It's different to see him on TV in the green," said veteran B.C. defensive halfback Ryan Phillips.
"It's going to be a real big difference to see him actually in person and see him running at us and doing things.
|Rewind: Geroy leaves BC|
"We've seen him in practice. Practice is one thing. To see him in another uniform, to grasp the fact we have to tackle him, it's going to be a difference experience. He is part of the bump in the road for us to get to where we want to be. We have to understand we have to go through him to get to the promised land."
Simon facing his old team is one of the story lines in a Lions-Riders match with enough plots to fill a Dan Brown novel. The game is a collision of two battered teams hoping to change their direction.
The Lions are coming off a 36-14 win over the Montreal Alouettes. B.C. is 2-2 in their last four games but are 1-4 on the road this season. The Riders lost 31-29 to Toronto on Saturday, their second defeat in as many games, and have slipped to second place in the West.
A win would move B.C. into a tie with Saskatchewan. That presents the possibility of the Lions hosting a playoff game, something that seemed a pipe dream a few weeks ago. With this year's Grey Cup game in Regina, the Riders want to steer their listing ship out of danger before a promising season crashes on the rocks.
"We are on the road and we need to prove to ourselves we can win on the road," said Lions' tailback Andrew Harris. "It's crucial for us to get this win."
Slotback Paris Jackson said the Riders are like a dazed boxer on the ropes.
"They've been up at the top pretty much all year," he said. "We have to make sure when they are down, we keep them down.
"Before the game we are going to be saying 'what's up Geroy?' But while the game is on, he's on the opposing team. All we care about is the guys in this locker room."
Adding even more drama is the status of star players on both side. Lions quarterback Travis Lulay injured his right throwing shoulder in the fourth quarter of the win over Montreal. Running back Kory Sheets suffered a knee injury in the loss to Toronto while slotback Weston Dressler and right tackle Ben Heenan watched from the sidelines.
Why Simon agreed to a trade to the Riders during the offseason is a move that still puzzles Lions' fans. At the time Simon said it wasn't a request to take a reduced salary that triggered his decision. It was more about rejecting a reduced role in the Lions' offensive scheme.
In B.C., Simon would have been sharing the work load with receivers like Emmanuel Arceneaux, Nick Moore, Shawn Gore, Coutney Taylor and Marco Iannuzzi. Playing in a Saskatchewan offence that features people like Dressler, Chris Getzlaf, Taj Smith and Rob Bagg, Simon has 18 catches for 272 yards and three touchdowns this year.