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Man who became a field legend despite battling Injuries

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Phil Simms is a quarterback renowned for his resilience, leadership and precision on the field. Simms carved an indelible legacy in the sport of American football. From his humble beginnings in Kentucky to his pivotal role as the face of the New York Giants, this article delves into the life and career of a man who became synonymous with both grit and glory on the American football field, all while wrestling with the challenges of injuries.

Phil Simms biography

Phil Simms

Philip Martin Simms, born on November 3, 1955, is a former American professional football player who served as a quarterback for 15 years. He dedicated his entire career to the New York Giants of the National Football League (NFL).

Simms was born in Springfield, Kentucky, on his grandfather’s farm, now known as Maple Hill Manor in Washington County. He commenced his education at St. Dominic’s Elementary School but later, during his elementary school years, his family relocated to Louisville. There, he attended St. Rita Catholic grade school.

Simms took on the role of quarterback for the Trojans at Southern High School in Louisville, ultimately graduating in 1974.

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Phil Simms career

Phil Simms smiling

Simms decided to enrol at NCAA Division II Morehead State, which played in the Ohio Valley Conference.

During his time at Morehead State, the Eagles employed a ball-control offensive strategy. Simms’ statistical performance during his senior season was not particularly remarkable. He completed 92 out of 173 passes, achieving a completion rate of 53.2 per cent. He threw for six touchdown passes but also had 11 interceptions, accumulating a total of 1,229 yards.

In 1978, the Ohio Valley Conference transitioned to the new Division I-AA, but unfortunately, the Eagles struggled with a 2–6–1 record, failing to secure a postseason appearance throughout Simms’ college career. When it comes to his overall college statistics, Simms managed 409 completions in 835 attempts, resulting in a completion rate of 48.9 per cent. He also recorded 32 touchdowns, and 45 interceptions, and notably held the school record with 5,545 yards.

Before the 1979 NFL Draft, Bill Walsh, the newly appointed head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, along with assistant coach, Sam Wyche, made a trip to Morehead State to evaluate Simms. Walsh was impressed by Simms that he intended to select him in the third round of the draft, favouring him over the eventual pick, Joe Montana from Notre Dame. However, the New York Giants surprised many by making Simms their first-round pick, seventh overall.

When Simms’s name was announced by Commissioner Pete Rozelle at the draft in New York, it was met with loud boos from the Giants’ fans in attendance. Simms himself admitted that at that time: “Most people have never heard of me.”

Initially, Simms was not thrilled about joining the Giants as he had other teams in mind like the Green Bay Packers, the Kansas City Chiefs, San Diego, or San Francisco. However, he quickly earned popularity among his teammates during his rookie training camp and they affectionately nicknamed him “Prince Valiant”.

During his rookie year in 1979, Simms made an impressive start, winning his first five games as a starter. He finished the season with a 6-4 record as a starter, throwing for 1,743 yards and 13 touchdown passes. He was honoured by being named to the NFL All-Rookie Team and was the runner-up for “Rookie of the Year” with Ottis Anderson, a future teammate, claiming the top spot.

Simms faced a challenging period over the next four years, marked by injuries and inconsistent performance. In the 1980 season, he managed to throw 15 touchdowns but also struggled with 19 interceptions. His completion rate was below par at 48.0 per cent, and he totalled 2,321 passing yards.

The following year, in 1981, Simms threw for 2,031 yards, achieving 11 touchdowns and 9 interceptions with a slightly improved completion rate of 54.4 per cent. Unfortunately, his season was cut short when he suffered a separated shoulder during a November 15 loss to the Washington Redskins. During his absence, the Giants went on a successful run led by Scott Brunner and made it to the second round of the playoffs.

In a pre-season game against the New York Jets in 1982, Simms suffered a torn knee ligament, which prevented him from playing for the entire season. This challenging period saw the departure of Ray Perkins as head coach, who took on the same position at the University of Alabama. Bill Parcells, the team’s defensive coordinator, stepped in as the new head coach. This coaching change would prove to be crucial for the future success of both the Giants and Simms.

In the sixth game of the Giants’ 1983 season, Simms was called upon to replace the struggling Scott Brunner against the Philadelphia Eagles. However, during his third drive, Simms suffered a season-ending injury when his thumb on his throwing hand struck a player’s helmet during his follow-through. Initially reported as a dislocation, the severity of the injury was much worse, as described in the book: “Simms to McConkey”, co-authored by Phil McConkey, Simms and Dick Schaap. According to the book, Simms’ thumb was hanging off after the impact, with the bone protruding through the skin.

In his early years with the Giants, Simms faced criticism from fans who viewed him as a disappointment. He noted that his wife had to endure listening to fans in the stands cursing him during games.

However, in 1984, after several seasons marked by injuries and inconsistent performance, Simms finally emerged as a leader on the offensive side of the team. During his recovery from the 1983 injury, the Giants’ offensive coordinator, Ron Erhardt, encouraged Simms to study game film more diligently, a practice he had not regularly followed in college or the pros. This helped him gain a better understanding of NFL defences, his team’s formations and pass protection strategies. Simms also adjusted his strength training regimen to enhance his resistance to injuries.

The result of this change was evident as he passed for 4,044 yards (the second-highest in the NFC), threw 22 touchdown passes and led the Giants to a playoff berth in the 1984 season. Simms’ performance earned him a spot in the Pro Bowl and the title of Pro Bowl MVP, leading the NFC to a comeback victory over the AFC with three touchdown passes.

On September 4, 1995, a memorable moment in Simms’ career took place when his jersey was retired in a halftime ceremony during a game against the Dallas Cowboys. In an emotional speech, Simms expressed his desire to put on his jersey one last time and throw “one more pass” to his teammate Lawrence Taylor.

Simms later humorously commented on the situation, realising he had put Taylor in a tough spot as the latter was in dress shoes and a sports jacket and had enjoyed a few beers. Simms motioned for Taylor to run a longer pattern, and after a 30-40-yard sprint, he threw the pass to him. Taylor admitted that catching that pass made him more nervous than any play in his career, fearing he would have to run out of the stadium if he dropped it. Fortunately, he made the catch and the crowd cheered in approval.

Following his retirement as a player in 1994, Simms ventured into broadcasting. He initially joined ESPN and later moved to NBC’s lead broadcast crew, where he teamed up with Dick Enberg and Paul Maguire for coverage of Super Bowl XXX and Super Bowl XXXII. Simms also worked as an announcer for weightlifting at the 1996 Summer Olympics and served as a sideline reporter for the NBA on NBC.

In 1998, Simms transitioned to CBS, where he worked on the AFC package. He collaborated with Greg Gumbel initially and then with Jim Nantz as part of CBS’s lead broadcast team. Simms also worked with broadcasters like Armen Keteyian, Bonnie Bernstein, and Lesley Visser. Since 2009, he has been a host of “Inside the NFL” on Showtime, alongside James Brown and Cris Collinsworth. In 2017, he was replaced by Tony Romo as a colour commentator but continued as part of the CBS pregame show “The NFL Today.”

Simms was also featured in several Madden NFL video games as part of the commentary team, partnering with Jim Nantz.

Beyond football broadcasting, Simms co-hosted the Miss Universe 2002 pageant with Daisy Fuentes, made appearances on TV shows like “As the World Turns”, “The Price Is Right” (with Nantz), “How I Met Your Mother”, and even appeared in the CBS series, “Elementary”.

In 2011, Simms received the honour of being inducted into the Kentucky Pro Football Hall of Fame.

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Phil Simms stats

Phil Simms at work

During his remarkable 14-year tenure with the New York Giants, Simms achieved notable career statistics. He completed 2,576 passes out of 4,647 attempts, amassing 33,462 yards and throwing 199 touchdowns. At the time of his retirement, his career passing yardage total ranked him 11th in NFL history.

Simms also contributed on the ground, carrying the ball 349 times for 1,252 rushing yards and scoring six touchdowns. He set several team records, including the most passes completed and attempted in a single game (40 and 62, respectively), the most completions and attempts in a season (286 and 533), and the most in a career (2,576 and 4,647). He also held the record for the most career touchdown passes with 199 and the most 300-yard games in a career, totalling 21.

While some of these records have since been surpassed by Eli Manning, Simms still retains ownership of some New York Giants passing records, including season passes completed and attempted (387 completed, 618 attempted).

In recognition of his contributions, Sports Illustrated deemed Simms the “Most Underrated Quarterback” in NFL history in their August 27, 2001, issue titled “The Most Overrated and Underrated.”

Phil Simms’ net worth

Simms has an estimated net worth of $16 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth

Phil Simms family

Simms and his wife, Diana, reside in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey. They have three children: Chris, Deirdre, and Matt. Notably, Simms’ son-in-law is the former NFL linebacker Brian Toal, who attended the same school as Matt.

Phil Simms’ age

Phil Simms rocking suit and tie

Simms was born on November 3, 1955. He is presently 68 years old and will be 69 in 2023.

Phil Simms now

Phil Simms presently holds a position as a television sports broadcaster at CBS network.

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