February 15, 2024

Longtime Ticat Simoni Lawrence announces retirement

Arthur Ward/CFL.ca

HAMILTON — After 11 seasons in the CFL with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (2013, 2014-23) and Edmonton (2012), one of the league’s all-time great linebackers, Simoni Lawrence, has announced his retirement.

The 35-year-old is the Tiger-Cats’ franchise leader in multiple categories, including total tackles (734), defensive tackles (727) and single-game tackles (17), while his 742 career defensive tackles rank 10th in CFL history. Lawrence is a three-time CFL All-Star (2015, 2019, 2021), a five-time CFL East Division All-Star (2014-2016, 2019, 2021) and was named the East Division’s nominee for Most Outstanding Defensive Player three times (2015, 2019, 2021).

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“Simoni embodies what it means to be a Hamilton Tiger-Cat. He was a fierce competitor in practice and on game days who will surely be remembered as one of the all-time greats,” said Orlondo Steinauer, president of football operations of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

“He has an infectious personality and a pure love for the game of football, which extended beyond the field of play where he was genuinely willing to give back consistently to the Hamilton community. It was an honour to see Simoni grow as a person and to see his relentless drive and hard work pay off as he achieved amazing things for over a decade. Congratulations, Simoni, on your Hall of Fame career.”

The Upper Darby, PA native suited up in 169 games over his CFL career, including 154 with the Tiger-Cats, posting 760 total tackles, including 742 defensive tackles, 32 tackles for loss, 35 quarterback sacks, 36 pass knockdowns, 15 interceptions, 13 forced fumbles and 11 fumble recoveries. Over his 10 seasons in Hamilton, Lawrence helped lead the Ticats to nine playoff appearances playing a total of 13 playoff games including six Eastern Finals and four Grey Cups.

In addition to his legendary accomplishments on the field, Lawrence also made incredible contributions outside of the lines. Renowned as Hamilton’s most committed community ambassador, Lawrence participated in over 500 individual community events and dedicated thousands of hours to positively influencing countless lives locally, particularly children and young adults. Simoni’s enduring commitment to community service continues, as he steps into his newly appointed role of the official brand and community ambassador for Hamilton Sports Group, ensuring he will remain a fixture in the Greater Hamilton area for years to come.

Fans will have the opportunity to join Lawrence at “The Graduation” a special event celebrating his career on the evening of Wednesday, Feb. 21 at Tim Hortons Field. Fans can secure their tickets by making a $21 donation to Food4Kids Hamilton via this link. More details about the event will be announced in the coming days.

Lawrence prepared the following statement regarding his retirement:

“Football has been my passion since I was nine years old and I’m extremely grateful that I was given this gift from God to be able to play for as many years as I did but now it’s time for me to graduate. This game has taken me to so many places but none of those places mean more to me than Hamilton.

Hamilton has felt like home ever since I was traded here back in 2013 and I’m extremely grateful that I was able to spend more than a decade in this great city. Only we truly know what we mean to each other, and I’ve always felt when you support Simoni Lawrence, you support the city of Hamilton and the Tiger-Cats.

Even though my playing days are over, I’m excited to begin my new role as Hamilton Sports Group’s official Brand & Community Ambassador and I look forward to growing and making this city and organization a better place. I’m extremely grateful for this opportunity and I’m happy I get to call Hamilton my forever home.

I want to thank the organization for believing in me and always having my back for the past 10 years. I want to personally thank Caretaker Bob Young, Scott Mitchell, Coach O, Shawn Burke, Coach Austin, Coach Jones, Coach Washington, Coach Ross and all the other coaches who helped me along the way.

Thank you to Drew and the equipment staff, the medical staff and the strength and conditioning staff who were always taking care of me. Thank you to the football operations staff, the media relations staff, the in-house kitchen staff and thank you to the business operations staff – I can’t wait to get to know you more!

Thank you to our community and corporate partners who I’m looking forward to continuing to work with in my new role.

Thank you to my parents for continuing to push me and not letting me quit when I was nine years old. Thank you to my family, who I’ve been away from for so long for always supporting me while I live out my dream here in Canada. I couldn’t have done this without you.

Finally, thank you Tiger-Cats fans. You are truly the best fans in the CFL and always make Tim Hortons Field the place to be on game days. I cherished all our interactions throughout the years during games, at autograph signings, and at countless events throughout the city. These are moments I’ll never forget and as the official Brand & Community Ambassador, I look forward to creating many more.

Thank you, Hamilton.”

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