Steelers Linebacker Shawn Lemon: Who?


This offseason the Steelers signed a mysterious linebacker from the Canadian Football League named Shawn Lemon. … Who? And I don’t mean who in a dismissive way. I think it’s time to figure out who this guy is.

Well, first he’s a fan of fellow CFL standout Cameron Wake. He told Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,

"“He has opened a lot of doors for us. I watch a lot of film on Cameron Wake and I try to do some of the things that he does and some of the things I do and put it into one. What keeps you motivated every year in the CFL is knowing the NFL is looking for pass rushers.”"

Way back in mid-January the Steelers signed CFL product Shawn Lemon. There was an odd current of excitement among Steelers fans based on vague descriptions of him performing well north of the border. This was perhaps excitement out of desperation. At the time we only had one single outside linebacker, Jarvis Jones, so that might have had something to do with it.

Since then the Steelers signed James Harrison and Arthur Moats. They also drafted Bud Dupree and Anthony Chickillo. So four linebackers later Lemon is getting a little less buzz. Who is this mysterious player with the fruit-based surname we all projected our over the top relief on when his signing essentially doubled our OLBs at the time only to forget about a few months later?

Well Lemon is 26, he’s 6’2″, he’s 250 lbs. What else? Well, Lemon is out of Akron University, an Ohio school like about half the Steelers roster it seems like. He grew up in Maryland however where he made a name for himself as a multi sport athlete, shining brightest in football.

His senior year in Akron Lemon had 7 sacks and 4 fumble recoveries. Because he went to a small school in the Mid-American conference and he hadn’t seen a ton of snaps as an underclassman Lemon did not hear his name on draft day, nor did he get signed after draft day.

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In 2011 he took his talents to Winnipeg. After also playing some ball in Saskatchewan Lemon played Arena League in 2012. He played for the San Jose SaberCats and the Orlando Predators. Next he joined the Sioux Falls Storm of the Indoor Football League. NFL, CFL, IFL, AFL, Lemon has played in more leagues in the span of a few years than most of us even knew existed.

Back to Canada where he played 2012 with the Edmonton Eskimos. In 2013 he signed with his seventh football team in 3 years, the Calgary Stampeders. With the Stampeders is where Lemon really broke out.

In 2013 Lemon got some playing time, he got some sacks and some tackles. It was a solid season in a back up role. In 2014 he started all 18 games. This is the season why we signed Shawn Lemon. In 18 games Lemon had 13 sacks and a whopping 8 forced fumbles. He helped lead his team to the leagues championship the Grey Cup that year. Less than 2 months later he was a Pittsburgh Steeler.

Lemon may be a bit of an unknown but one thing is for certain, after 4 leagues and 8 teams in 5 years, Shawn Lemon loves football. First, consider that for 99.9% of people, if you aren’t drafted or even signed as a UFA, then you aren’t going to be a pro football player. That’s the end of the story.

On top of that Lemon essentially had to move across North America every 6 months and play in ever league that would have him. A lot of people might have asked themselves if its really worth it. There was no way to know it would pay off and get him to the NFL.

So to endure that, and to continue beyond the point at which most people would have moved on, and to be good enough to break out, it’s all very impressive stuff. I really don’t see him pulling a Worilds and retiring.

The guy clearly loves the game and has worked hard to be here. He also must have belief in himself and a tremendous work ethic. He seems to have some ability to rush the passer bet even more so for forcing fumbles.

Next: Steelers: Howard Jones Second Attempt at Greatness

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