They spent their CFL careers on different squads but quarterback Anthony Calvillo and receiver Geroy Simon will now forever be teammates.
The record-setting performers headline a solid 2017 class named for induction into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame. Simon and Calvillo were both selected in their first years of eligibility Wednesday night at Mosaic Stadium.
“You look at the history of the CFL and the people that have been inducted and it’s a special, special place to be,” Calvillo said. “Whether it’s in your first year, second year or 15th year, to me the most important thing is if you get in, you’re in.
“It just speaks volumes to go in with someone like Geroy who mastered his craft, was great for so many years and was so enjoyable to watch.”
Calvillo and Simon will form the Hall of Fame’s most prolific passing tandem. Calvillo is pro football’s all-time passing leader while Simon remains the top receiver in CFL history.
“A.C. was probably the best quarterback in the league for a long time, it wasn’t even close,” Simon said. “It’s pretty amazing when you consider the all-time leading passer and all-time leading receiver are going in at the same time.
“I felt like I had a very good career and pretty much accomplished everything I wanted. But when I got the call, it was totally unexpected and really exciting.”
Also named in the players’ category were running back Kelvin Anderson and linebacker Mike O’Shea while Stan Schwartz and Brian Towriss were selected as builders. The six will formally be inducted in Hamilton in mid-September and boost the Hall’s membership to 289.
“Every class is special and this is one is exemplary,” Mark DeNobile, the executive director of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame and Museum, said in a statement.
Calvillo, 44, played for three clubs (Las Vegas, Hamilton and Montreal) during his illustrious 20-year CFL career. The Los Angeles native retired after the 2013 season with 79,816 passing yards and is the only player in league history to register over 400 TD strikes.
Calvillo led the Alouettes to three Grey Cup titles (2002, 2009, and 2010) and was named the CFL’s outstanding player three times (2003, 2008, and 2009). Calvillo is currently Montreal’s quarterbacks coach.
Simon, 41, spent 15 CFL seasons with Winnipeg (1999-2000), B.C. (2001-2012) and Saskatchewan (2013). The native of Johnstown, Pa., played for three Grey Cup-winning teams (2006, 2011 with the Lions, 2013 with the Riders) and remains the league’s all-time leader in receiving yards (16,352 yards) and catches (1,029) and third in TDs (103).
Simon, currently the Lions’ director of Canadian scouting, was proud to be named for induction in Regina. After ending his playing career in 2013, Simon spent a year in the Riders’ front office.
“It’s pretty cool,” Simon said. “Even though my time was short in Saskatchewan, I feel like I had a lasting impression on that province, on that organization.
“I get warm feelings every time I touch down in Regina or anywhere in Saskatchewan for that matter.”
Anderson, 45, ran for over 1,000 yards in all eight of his CFL seasons, a league record. He spent his first seven years with Calgary before finishing up with B.C. in 2002.
Anderson was the CFL’s top rookie in 1996 and a three-time league all-star. He was a finalist for the outstanding player award in 1998 and 2001.
O’Shea, a 46-year-old native of North Bay, Ont., played 16 CFL seasons with Hamilton and Toronto. He was the league’s top rookie in 1993 with the Tiger-Cats and won three Grey Cups with the Argos (1996, ‘97, ‘04).
O’Shea’s 1,151 career tackles rank first among Canadian-born players in the CFL and second overall. He played 205 games with Toronto, second only to Don Moen (222) in club history and was named the league’s top Canadian in 1999.
O’Shea made his CFL coaching debut as Toronto’s special-teams co-ordinator in 2010 and helped the Argos win the 2012 Grey Cup. He was hired as Winnipeg’s head coach Dec. 4, 2013.
Schwartz, of Medicine Hat., Alta., spent five decades in Canadian football as a coach and administrator. He served as Calgary’s president for eight years starting in 1996 and during his tenure the club played in three Grey Cups, winning in 1998 and 2001.
Towriss played defensive tackle for the Saskatchewan Huskies before becoming one of Canadian university football’s top coaches at his alma mater. The 60-year-old native of Moose Jaw, Sask., served as the school’s head coach from 1984 to 2016, winning three Vanier Cup titles in nine appearances.
Towriss was Canadian university football’s coach of the year in 1994. During his tenure, 47 Huskies went on to play in the CFL and another in the NFL.
Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press