Legends Lawrence, Muamba Call Time On Legendary CFL Careers

By Chris Lawton

The sun has set on two sensational CFL playing careers as both Simoni Lawrence and Henoc Muamba have announced their retirement from the game. Both men, who have been a dominant defensive presence for over a decade may be stepping away from their playing days, but both are set to still be involved around the league. Given their propensity for success you can’t help but think they will succeed in their new environments too.

These two men have had such an impact on the league that it would be no surprise to see either or both being elected to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame once they are eligible. So how good were they? Let’s take a look at each one in turn to find out.

Simoni Lawrence - Hamilton Legend

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Lawrence recently announced the end of his playing days and accepted a position with the Hamilton Sports Group as a brand and community ambassador.

Having played for Minnesota in college, Lawrence was signed a released by the Rams, Eagles, Buccaneers and Bears in the NFL before making appearances for the Las Vegas Locomotives in the UFL.

His first appearance in the three down game came with Edmonton in 2012 where he played in 15 games, starting one, recording 15 tackles, 11 special teams tackles and one fumble recovery. In fact, Lawrence spent the majority of his 11 seasons in the league with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (2013, 2014-2023), as well as one year in Edmonton (2012).

Aside from a brief spell with the Minnesota Vikings, he would remain with the Tiger-Cats for the rest of his illustrious CFL career. He retires as the franchise leader in tackles, (734), defensive tackles (727), single game tackles (17) and was a three-time CFL All-Star and five-time East Division All-Star. He was the East Division Most Outstanding Player on three occasions but missed out on the league crown each time. A fact that clearly still rankles.

Over his 10 seasons in Hamilton the Tiger-Cats made nine playoff appearances, played in six Eastern Finals, and four Grey Cups, but the ultimate team win never came.

He remains a popular figure in Hamilton where he has always had strong community involvement, and they even celebrated his retirement as the city held Simoni Lawrence Day. He spent time on local television and received the key to the city snow plough named for him (Snowmoni Lawrence), as well as the team holding a ‘graduation ceremony’ to celebrate his career in black and gold.

One thing is for sure, he is beloved in Hamilton. But further afield there has been some controversy around the way he played sometimes. A fact Lawrence doesn’t shy away from, stating he enjoyed playing the villain to other teams’ fans.

Henoc Muamba

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Muamba was born in Kinshasa, in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo, but grew up in Ontario. Playing college football for St Francis Xavier’s football team based in Nova Scotia. He remains their all-time leading tackler at the time of writing (149.5), and was the first overall pick in the 2011 CFL Draft.

He spent three years with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and made a mark as a rookie with appearances in 11 regular season games and both post season games, being on the losing side against the BC Lions in the 2011 Grey Cup.

By 2013, in his third year with the Blue Bombers he was having such an impact that he was nominated as the team’s Most Outstanding Player, Most Outstanding Defensive Player and Most Outstanding Canadian. He would eventually be made the East Division’s MOC, losing out on the CFL trophy to Jon Cornish.

The next few years saw him play in both the CFL and NFL for a combination of the Colts, Saskatchewan Roughriders and Montreal Alouettes. In his second stint with the Als he was named a CFL All-Star twice (2018 & 2019) and was named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Canadian in 2019.

His career was rounded off in fine style when he finished out playing with the Toronto Argonauts in his final two years in the league. In what proved to be his last game he left on the highest of highs, as Toronto won the 2022 Grey Cup while he was named the game’s Most Valuable Player and Most Valuable Canadian.

Muamba retires having appeared in 135 games, (112 as a starter), with 610 career defensive tackles, the fourth most even by a Canadian. As well as having recorded the second and third most tackles in a single season by a Canadian (108 in 2018 and 106 in 2013 respectively).

Muamba was already transitioning from his on-field career. He has co-hosted ‘The Waggle’ the official CFL podcast since 2022 and is now looking to work with his foundation and business projects as well as being “excited to kind of reframe the narrative of transitioning from football. I don’t think that it should be this melancholic, egregious process — it’s a time of celebration,” as he told 3DownNation in a recent interview. 

While Henoc celebrates his new opportunities it is good for us to celebrate the on-field legacy of these two CFL greats. It has been a pleasure to watch them, and it will be fascinating to see who steps up to fill the spaces they have left behind.

Feature Image Credit: Bob Butrym/3DownNation



Chris originally started following the NFL with the ‘first wave’ of fans when it was shown on Channel 4 in the 1980’s. He has been a keen supporter of the Miami Dolphins since 1983. Chris first encountered the CFL in 2016 and instantly fell in love with the Canadian game. He has been writing about the CFL 2017. Chris has a degree in history, postgraduate degree in librarianship and can be found on twitter as @CFLfanUK