Phil Simms (born November 3, 1954) is a former American football quarterback who spent his entire 14-year professional career playing for the New York Giants of the National Football League (NFL). He is currently a television sportscaster for the CBS network. After playing college football at Morehead State University, Simms was drafted in the first round by the New York Giants of the National Football League (NFL) with the number seven selection overall in the 1979 NFL Draft. Simms was named Most Valuable Player (MVP) of Super Bowl XXI, after he led the Giants to a 39–20 victory over the Denver Broncos and set the record for highest completion percentage in a Super Bowl, completing 22 of 25 passes (88%). He also was named to the Pro Bowl for his performances in the 1985 and 1993 seasons.

He finished his career with 33,462 passing yards and has since gone on to be a career broadcaster of NFL games—first as an analyst for ESPN, then as a in-game color commentator with NBC, and currently with CBS. He is the father of former NFL quarterback, New England Patriots assistant coach, and current Fox Sports college football analyst Chris Simms, as well as Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Simms.

Early life and rookie season Edit

Simms was born in Springfield, Kentucky on his grandfather's farm, a place now called Maple Hill Manor in Washington County, Kentucky where he attended St. Dominic's Elementary. While an elementary school student his family moved and Simms grew up in Louisville, Kentucky. He went to St. Rita catholic grade school also. He attended Southern High School in Louisville and was quarterback of the Southern Trojans, graduating in 1974. Simms chose to attend Morehead State University in nearby Morehead, Kentucky, and joined Tau Kappa Epsilon there. The team featured a ball control offense,[2] and Simms' numbers at Morehead State were unspectacular—in his senior season he completed 92 of 173 passes for a 53.2% completion percentage and had six touchdown passes, 11 interceptions, and 1,229 yards.[2] The team also finished with a 2–6–1 record in his senior season and failed to make a bowl game during Simms' four years.[2]Simms finished his career at Morehead State with 409 completions in 835 attempts for a 48.9% completion percentage.[2] He also totaled 32 touchdowns, 45 interceptions, and a school-record 5,545 yards.[2]

Before the 1979 NFL Draft, Bill Walsh, who was the new coach of the San Francisco 49ers, flew to Morehead State with assistant coach Sam Wyche to work out Simms.[3] Walsh was so impressed with Simms that he planned to draft him in the third round, preferring him over another young quarterback they scouted and ultimately drafted, Joe Montana.[4] But the New York Giants decided to make Simms their first round pick to the surprise of many.[5] As Simms acknowledged, "most people have never heard of me."[5] When Simms's name was announced by Commissioner Pete Rozelle in front of the audience at the draft (which was held in New York), his selection was booed loudly by the Giants fans in attendance.[6] Simms was not happy being a Giant either, "All I was thinking was which teams I would rather play for—the Green Bay Packers, the Kansas City Chiefs, San Diego, San Francisco..."[7] Nonetheless, he became popular with his teammates who jokingly dubbed him "Prince Valiant" in his rookie training camp.[8]

Simms won his first five starts of his rookie year.[9] He led the team to a 6–4 record as a starter, throwing for 1,743 yards and 13 touchdown passes and was named to the NFL All Rookie Team.[10] He was runner-up in 1979 for Rookie of the Year, losing out to future teammate, Ottis Anderson.[11]

Early career: 1980–1986 Edit

Simms' next four years were marred by injuries and inconsistent play. He finished the 1980 season with 15 touchdowns and 19 interceptions, while completing a subpar 48.0% of his passes for 2,321 yards.[12] In 1981, Simms threw for 2,031 yards, 11 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions on 54.4% completion percentage[12] before suffering a separated shoulder in a November 15 loss to the Washington Redskins.[13] With Simms out, the Giants went on a run led by Scott Brunner and advanced to the second round of the playoffs. Simms suffered a torn knee ligament in a preseason game against the New York Jets, preventing him from playing the entire 1982 season.[14]Following the season, Ray Perkins resigned as head coach to take over the same position at the University of Alabama, and was replaced by the team's defensive coordinator Bill Parcells. In the coming years this change would prove crucial to the Giants and Simms.

One of Parcells first decisions as coach was to replace Simms as the starting quarterback with Brunner.[15] Simms asked to be traded after the benching, but his request was ignored.[16] During the sixth game of the Giants' 1983 Season, Simms came in to replace the struggling Brunner against the Philadelphia Eagles. On his second drive, Simms suffered a season-ending injury when the thumb on his throwing hand hit a player's helmet on his follow-through. The injury was reported as a dislocation, but according to the book, Simms to McConkey, written by Phil McConkey, Simms, and Dick Schaap, the injury was much more severe, with the thumb literally hanging off after impact, and the bone sticking out through the skin.[17]

During his first few years on the team, Giants fans were merciless in their treatment of Simms, who they felt was a disappointment. He commented that his wife "had to sit up in the stands and listen to them cuss me."[16] However, in 1984, after many seasons plagued by injuries and up-and-down play, Simms finally emerged as a team offensive leader. During his 1983 injury, offensive coordinator Ron Erhardt talked Simms into watching more game film, something he had not regularly done in college or the pros. He gained a better understanding of NFL defenses, his team's formations, and pass protection schemes, and improved his ability to audible at the line of scrimmage. He also changed his strength training regimen in an attempt to make his body more resistant to injury.[18] He passed for 4,044 yards (second most in the National Football Conference (NFC)), 22 touchdown passes, and led the Giants to a playoff berth.[19]

He was voted to the Pro Bowl and named Pro Bowl MVP[12] as he led the NFC to a comeback win over the American Football Conference (AFC) by throwing three touchdowns. In 1985, he passed for 3,829 yards, 22 touchdowns,[12] and led the Giants to 10 victories, the most for a Giants team since 1963.[20] In a game against the Cincinnati Bengals during the 1985 season, Simms passed for 513 yards—the fifth most passing yards in a single game in NFL history.[21] In 1986, he passed for 3,487 yards and 21 touchdown passes during a season in which the Giants won 14 games. In week 11, he completed a desperate fourth-and-17 pass to Bobby Johnson late in the game to set up Raul Allegre's game-winning field goal, which gave the Giants a 22–20 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.[22] Simms later commented:[23]

Super Bowl XXI Edit

On January 25, 1987, the Giants met the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXI. In the biggest game of his life, Simms had one of the finest performances in Super Bowl history.[24] He completed 22 of 25 passes (with 2 of his 3 incompletions being drops by receivers) for 268 yards, setting Super Bowl records for consecutive completions (10),[25] accuracy (88%),[25] and passer rating (150.9).[26] In addition, he threw 3 touchdown passes and his passer rating set an NFL postseason record.[26] "This might be the best game a quarterback has ever played", Giants coach Bill Parcells later said.[27] Two of the most famous plays from the game were the flea flicker to McConkey, and the touchdown pass caught by McConkey off of the fingertips of Giants tight end, Mark Bavaro.[28] The Giants defeated the Broncos 39-20, and Simms was named MVP of Super Bowl XXI. He is credited for being the first to use the phrase "I'm going to Disney World!" following a championship victory.

Later career: 1987–1993 Edit

Simms performed well in the strike-shortened 1987 NFL season, finishing with the second highest quarterback rating in the NFC. He threw for 2,230 yards, 17 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions.[12] He passed for 3,359 yard, 21 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions while completing 54.9% of his passes in the 1988 season. The Giants rebounded from a 6–9 record in 1987 to finish 10–6[20] but fell just short of the playoffs due to the NFL tie-breaker system. In 1989, the Giants started 8–1 and finished 12–4, Simms passed for 3,061 yards, 14 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions on 56.3% completion percentage.[12] He performed consistently most of the season except for a two-game stretch against the Eagles and 49ers where he produced seven turnovers, six of which resulted in points for the opposition.[30]He also struggled in the Giants playoff game against the Los Angeles Rams, and the Giants lost 19–13. In 1990, Simms was having one of his finest seasons, leading the NFC with the highest quarterback rating (92.7)[31] and the Giants to an 11–3 record. But his season was cut short due to a broken foot suffered in the fourteenth game against the Giants' eventual Super Bowl XXV opponent, the Buffalo Bills. The Giants went on to defeat the Bills 20–19 in the Super Bowl with Jeff Hostetler filling in at quarterback.

After the Giants Super Bowl victory, Parcells resigned and was replaced by the team's running backs coach Ray Handley.[32] One of Handley's first decisions was to select Jeff Hostetler as the team's starting quarterback following his performance in Super Bowl XXV.[32]Simms saw only spot action in two games prior to Week 13, when Hostetler broke his back in a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Simms finished the game and reclaimed the starting job, but won only once in his remaining four starts as the Giants failed to return to the playoffs at 8-8. Simms was named starter for the 1992 season after beating out Hostetler, whom Handley still thought high of as a quarterback in the preseason. However, Simms suffered a severe arm injury in a Week 4 loss to the Los Angeles Raiders and missed the remainder of the season. In those two seasons Simms amassed only a combined 1,905 yards, 13 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions while completing 59.3% of his passes.[12] The Giants finished the 1992 season at 6-10, which led to the termination of the unpopular Handley and the hiring of former Denver Broncos coach Dan Reeves. As part of an overall house cleaning, Reeves released Hostetler and named Simms his starting quarterback.[33] He started all 16 games in 1993, being one of only seven quarterbacks to do so, and led the Giants to a resurgent 11–5 season including a victory over the Minnesota Vikings in the playoffs.[34] However, Simms underwent shoulder surgery after the 1993 NFL Season to repair a torn labrum. The surgery was successful, and team doctor Russell F. Warren's prognosis for recovery was excellent, and Simms was expected to be ready in time for training camp.[35] However, later during that offseason, Simms was released by the Giants, and subsequently decided to retire. Upon his release, co-owner Wellington Mara called it "a day of overwhelming sadness.".[36] Phil Simms considered playing for the Browns in 1995, but eventually decided to stay retired.[37]

In his 14 seasons with the Giants, Simms completed 2,576 out of 4,647 passes for 33,462 yards and 199 touchdowns.[12] His career passing yardage total ranks him twenty first in NFL history.[38] He added 349 carries for 1,252 rushing yards and 6 touchdowns on the ground.[12] He set team records for most passes completed and attempted in one game (40 and 62, respectively), season (286, 533) and career (2,576, 4,647), most career touchdown passes (199) and most 300-yard games in a career (21).[39] Simms still owns some of the New York Giants passing records, although Eli Manning, who is in his thirteenth year with the Giants as of the 2016 season, has started to surpass some of them: season passes (359 completed, 589 attempted), career completed passes (2,679), career touchdowns (216), career 300-yard games (26).[40] Sports Illustrated considered Simms to be the "Most Underrated Quarterback" in NFL history in their August 27, 2001 issue entitled, "The Most Overrated and Underrated".[4]

After retirement from the NFL Edit

On September 4, 1995, Simms' jersey was retired in a halftime ceremony of a game versus the Dallas Cowboys. During an emotional speech, Simms stated that he wanted to don his jersey one final time, and throw "one more pass" to teammate Lawrence Taylor.[41]Simms later commented, "[a]ll of a sudden it kind of hit me, I've put Lawrence in a really tough spot; national TV, he's got dress shoes and a sports jacket on, and he's had a few beers and he's going to run down the field and I'm going to throw him a pass."[42] Simms then motioned for Taylor to run a longer pattern, and after 30–40 yards, threw him the pass. Taylor later stated that the situation made him more nervous than any play of his career, "I'm saying to myself (as the pass is being thrown), 'If I drop this pass, I got to run my black ass all the way to Upper Saddle River because there ain't no way I'm going to be able to stay in that stadium'."[42] Taylor caught the pass however, and the capacity crowd in attendance cheered in approval.[43] Since he has been retired for more than five years, Simms is eligible for selection into the Pro Football Hall of Fame; he has yet to be inducted, however.

After his retirement as a player in 1994, Simms joined CBS with the AFC package, teaming with Jim Nantz on the CBS's lead broadcast team. He also worked with Armen Keteyian, Bonnie Bernstein and Lesley Visser. He hosts Inside the NFL on Showtime (another CBS holding) with James Brown and Cris Collinsworth. He has appeared on CBS Daytime since joining CBS, with a 2007 appearance as himself on the CBS soap opera As the World Turns, and in February 2010 an appearance on The Price Is Right (with Nantz) to present a Super Bowl XLIV showcase. Simms is part of the commentary team, along with his broadcast partner Jim Nantz, in the Madden NFL 13, 25, 15, and 16 video games for AFC behind Joe Buck and Troy Aikman called Madden NFL video games for NFC.

As of the 2015–16 NFL season, Simms has been a commentator for the CBS and NFL Network broadcasts of Thursday Night Football.

On November 13, 2014, Simms appeared uncredited on the "Just a Regular Irregular" episode of the CBS TV series Elementary. Simms' cameo was as a character named "Phillip" who had, like Simms himself, spent 15 years as a professional football player, but was a consultant to Sherlock Holmes in the art of knife throwing.

Personal life Edit

Simms and his wife, Diana, live in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey. They have three children: Chris, Deirdre and Matthew (currently backup quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons). His son-in-law is former NFL linebacker Brian Toal, who was schoolmates with Matt.[46] Simms is fond of New Jersey, remarking in 1987; "I wasn't overjoyed about coming to New York. When I thought of New York, I thought of New York City. But out here, it's just like anywhere else."[16]

Simms is a relative of former Vanderbilt quarterback Oliver "Doc" Kuhn and former Kentucky quarterback John Simms "Shipwreck" Kelly.

In 2011, Simms was inducted into the Kentucky Pro Football Hall of Fame.[47]

NFL passing statistics Edit

Year Team GP Att Com Pct Yds TD Int Rate
1979 New York Giants 12 265 134 50.6 1743 13 14 66.0
1980 New York Giants 13 402 193 48.0 2321 15 19 58.9
1981 New York Giants 10 316 172 54.4 2031 11 9 74.0
1983 New York Giants 2 13 7 53.8 130 0 1 56.6
1984 New York Giants 16 533 286 53.7 4044 22 18 78.1
1985 New York Giants 16 495 275 55.6 3829 22 20 78.6
1986 New York Giants 16 468 259 55.3 3487 21 22 74.6
1987 New York Giants 9 282 163 57.8 2230 17 9 90.0
1988 New York Giants 15 479 253 54.9 3359 21 11 82.1
1989 New York Giants 15 405 228 56.3 3061 14 14 77.6
1990 New York Giants 14 311 184 59.2 2284 15 4 92.7
1991 New York Giants 6 141 82 58.3 993 8 4 87.0
1992 New York Giants 4 137 83 60.6 812 5 3 83.3
1993 New York Giants 16 400 247 61.8 3038 15 9 88.3
Career Totals 164 4647 2576 55.4 33462 199 157 78.5
Key to abbreviations
  • GP = Games played
  • Att = Passes attempted
  • Com = Passes completed
  • Pct = Completion percentage
  • Yds = Yards
  • TD = Touchdowns
  • In = Interceptions
  • Rate = Passer rating
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