Phil Simms

Phil Simms
Simms in 2003
No. 11
Position: Quarterback
Personal information
Born: (1954-11-03) November 3, 1954
Springfield, Kentucky
Height: 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Weight: 216 lb (98 kg)
Career information
High school: Louisville (KY) Southern
College: Morehead State
NFL Draft: 1979 / Round: 1 / Pick: 7
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Pass attempts: 4,647
Pass completions: 2,576
Percentage: 55.4
TDINT: 199–157
Passing yards: 33,462
Passer rating: 78.5
Player stats at

Phillip Martin 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%).[1] 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, assistant coach, and current college football analyst Chris Simms, as well as NFL quarterback Matt Simms.

Early life and rookie season

Simms was born in Springfield, Kentucky, on his grandfather's farm, a place now called Maple Hill Manor in Washington County, where he attended St. Dominic's Elementary. While in elementary school, his family moved to Louisville and he went to St. Rita Catholic grade school. Simms was the quarterback of the Trojans of Southern High School in Louisville and graduated in 1974. He chose to attend Division II Morehead State of the Ohio Valley Conference in nearby Morehead, where he joined the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity.

The Morehead State Eagles ran a ball-control offense,[2] and Simms' numbers 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 Ohio Valley moved up to the new Division I-AA in 1978, but the Eagles went 2–6–1; they failed to make the postseason during his college career.[2] Simms finished with 409 completions in 835 attempts for a 48.9% completion percentage.[2] He also totalled 32 touchdowns, 45 interceptions, and a school-record 5,545 yards.[2]

Before the 1979 NFL Draft, new San Francisco 49ers head coach Bill Walsh flew to Morehead State with assistant coach Sam Wyche to work out Simms.[3] Walsh was so impressed that he planned to draft Simms in the third round, preferring him over the quarterback they ultimately took, Joe Montana of Notre Dame.[4] But the New York Giants decided to make Simms their first round pick (seventh overall) 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 in New York, his selection was booed loudly by the Giants fans in attendance.[6][7] (He was the second quarterback taken; Jack Thompson of Washington State went to Cincinnati with the third overall pick.) 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..."[8] Nonetheless, he became popular with his teammates who jokingly dubbed him "Prince Valiant" in his rookie training camp.[9]

Simms won his first five starts of his rookie year in 1979;[10] he was 6–4 as a starter, threw for 1,743 yards and 13 touchdown passes, and was named to the NFL All-Rookie Team.[11] He was runner-up for Rookie of the Year, behind future teammate Ottis Anderson.[12]

Early career: 1980–1986

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.[13] In 1981, Simms threw for 2,031 yards, 11 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions on 54.4% completion percentage[13] before suffering a separated shoulder in a November 15 loss to the Washington Redskins.[14] 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.[15] 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.[16] Simms asked to be traded after the benching, but his request was ignored.[17] 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.[18]

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."[17] 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.[19] 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.[20]

He was voted to the Pro Bowl and named Pro Bowl MVP[13] 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,[13] and led the Giants to 10 victories, the most for a Giants team since 1963.[21] 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.[22] 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.[23] Simms later commented:[24]

It's my favorite game in my career, because it's everything I always wanted to be as a player. I wanted to be tough, making big throws, immune to pressure, not worried about outcomes. It was truly like standing on the tee box in golf and there's trees on each side and water and you just go 'Man, I'm gonna rip it down the middle.' And no other thought crosses your mind.

Super Bowl XXI

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.[25] 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),[26] accuracy (88%),[26] and passer rating (150.9).[27] In addition, he threw 3 touchdown passes and his passer rating set an NFL postseason record.[27] "This might be the best game a quarterback has ever played", Giants coach Bill Parcells later said.[28] 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.[29] 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

Simms performed well in the strike-shortened 1987 NFL season, finishing with the second highest quarterback rating in the NFC.[30] He threw for 2,230 yards, 17 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions.[13] He passed for 3,359 yard, 21 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions while completing 54.9% of his passes in the 1988 season.[13] The Giants rebounded from a 6–9 record in 1987 to finish 10–6[21] 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.[13] 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.[31] 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)[32] and the Giants to an 11–3 record. But his season was cut short due to a broken foot suffered in the fifteenth 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.[33] One of Handley's first decisions was to select Jeff Hostetler as the team's starting quarterback following his performance in Super Bowl XXV.[33] 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 highly 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.[13] 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.[34] 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.[35] 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.[36] 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.".[37] Phil Simms considered playing for the Browns in 1995, but eventually decided to stay retired.[38]

In his 14 seasons with the Giants, Simms completed 2,576 out of 4,647 passes for 33,462 yards and 199 touchdowns.[13] His career passing yardage total ranks him at thirty first in NFL history.[39] He added 349 carries for 1,252 rushing yards and 6 touchdowns on the ground.[13] 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).[40] 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).[41] 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

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.[42] 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."[43] 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'."[43] Taylor caught the pass however, and the capacity crowd in attendance cheered in approval.[44] 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 first joined ESPN then went on to join NBC's lead broadcast crew, teaming with Dick Enberg and Paul Maguire on that network's coverage of Super Bowl XXX and Super Bowl XXXII. Simms also announced Weightlifting at the 1996 Summer Olympics and served as a sideline reporter on the NBA on NBC for NBC Sports.[45] In 1998, he moved to CBS with the AFC package, teaming first with Greg Gumbel (through the end of the 2003 season) and later 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. In the same month, he appeared as himself (again with Nantz) on the How I Met Your Mother episode "Rabbit or Duck". 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.

As of the 2015–16 NFL season, Simms has been a commentator for the CBS and NFL Network broadcasts of Thursday Night Football. He was replaced by Tony Romo for the 2017-18 NFL season and moved to The NFL Today for that season.[46][47]

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.[48]

Personal life

Simms and his wife, Diana, live in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey. They have three children: Chris, Deirdre and Matthew (current free agent quarterback in the NFL). His son-in-law is former NFL linebacker Brian Toal, who was schoolmates with Matt.[49] 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."[17]

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.[50]


Springfield, Kentucky is the birthplace of football legend Phil Simms. They have set up an exhibit which honors his life and career as a professional football player and CBS sports commentator.

NFL passing statistics

Year Team GP Att Com Pct Yds TD Int Rate
1979New York Giants1226513450.61743131466.0
1980New York Giants1340219348.02321151958.9
1981New York Giants1031617254.4203111974.0
1983New York Giants213753.81300156.6
1984New York Giants1653328653.74044221878.1
1985New York Giants1649527555.63829222078.6
1986New York Giants1646825955.33487212274.6
1987New York Giants928216357.8223017990.0
1988New York Giants1547925354.93359211182.1
1989New York Giants1540522856.33061141477.6
1990New York Giants1431118459.2228415492.7
1991New York Giants61418258.39938487.0
1992New York Giants41378360.68125383.3
1993New York Giants1640024761.8303815988.3
Career Totals 1644647257655.43346219915778.5
Key to abbreviations

See also


  1. Super Bowl records, Retrieved October 11, 2010.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Katz, Michael. It's Simms of Morehead State; Giants Pick Simms, A Quarterback, No.1, The New York Times, May 4, 1979, accessed May 10, 2007.
  3. Simms and Meier. pp. 74–75.
  4. 1 2 King, Peter. "The Rating Game: Nfl Quarterback", Sports Illustrated, Volume 95, issue 8, 27 August 2001, p. 60. ISSN 0038-822X
  5. 1 2 Katz, Michael. Giants Defend 'Value' in Choice of Simms; Perkins Optimistic Giants Selections, The New York Times, 5 May 1979. Retrieved March 20, 2007.
  6. "Ohio State linebacker goes to beef up Buffalo". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. May 4, 1979. p. 49.
  7. Mooney, Roger. No team takes Phil Simms first in today's NFL, Bradenton Herald, April 22, 2007, accessed May 10, 2007.
  8. Whittingham. pg. 41
  9. Katz, Michael. Giants Test Simms in A Workout; Pisarcik Overweight, The New York Times, May 11, 1979. Retrieved March 20, 2007.
  10. Rovell, Darren. Roethlisberger in demand,, November 4, 2004. Retrieved 2007-01-01.
  11. Neft, Cohen, and Korch. p. 660
  12. Pervin. pg. 104
  13. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Phil Simms Archived 2007-05-27 at the Wayback Machine.,, accessed May 9, 2007.
  14. Neft, Cohen, and Korch. pg. 724
  15. Neft, Cohen, and Korch. pg. 744
  16. Neft, Cohen, and Korch. pg. 766
  17. 1 2 3 Pooley. pg. 29
  18. McConkey, Simms, and Schaap. pg. 81
  19. Pervin. pg. 105
  20. 1984 New York Giants, Retrieved November 18, 2010.
  21. 1 2 New York Giants (1925 - ) Archived 2007-04-09 at the Wayback Machine.,, accessed May 9, 2007.
  22. Weir, Tom. Palmer, Johnson have Saints singing the blues,, November 20, 2006. Retrieved 2007-01-03.
  23. Anderson, Dave. Sports Of The Times; Phil Simms's Biggest Pass, The New York Times, November 17, 1986. Retrieved March 20, 2007.
  24. Schwartz. pg. 161
  25. Super Bowl MVPs Archived 2006-11-11 at the Wayback Machine., Super Retrieved 2007-01-06.
  26. 1 2 Super Bowl Recaps: Super Bowl XXI Archived 2007-05-02 at the Wayback Machine., Super Retrieved 2007-01-03.
  27. 1 2 THE DAILY Goes One-on-One With Super Bowl Analyst Phil Simms,, accessed May 9, 2007.
  28. The List: Best Super Bowl performances, Retrieved 2007-01-01.
  29. Anderson, Dave. SUPER BOWL XXI: SPORTS OF THE TIMES; Sinatra, Simms and Minelli , The New York Times, January 26, 1987, accessed May 10, 2007.
  30. 1987 NFL Statistic – Passing, Retrieved 2007-01-01.
  31. Neft, Cohen, and Korch. pg. 894
  32. 1990 NFL Statistic – Passing, Retrieved 2007-01-01.
  33. 1 2 Neft, Cohen, and Korch. pg. 936
  34. Smith, Timothy W. FOOTBALL; Giants Tell Simms That He's The Boss, The New York Times, June 16, 1993. Retrieved March 22, 2007.
  35. 1993 New York Giants Archived 2008-12-28 at the Wayback Machine.,, accessed May 9, 2007.
  36. PRO FOOTBALL; Simms's Surgery Goes Well, The New York Times, March 2, 1994. Retrieved 2007-01-01.
  37. Pervin. pg. 107
  38. Smith, Timothy W. (March 3, 1995). "Deal With Browns? Simms Passes, for Now". The New York Times. Retrieved September 18, 2015.
  39. , Retrieved November 18, 2010.
  40. Phil SImms Archived 2007-05-06 at the Wayback Machine.,, accessed May 9, 2007.
  41. New York Giants Career Passing on Retrieved on 2013-09-23
  42. MNF 36: The List Monday Night Football Special (Original Air Date: August 25, 2005), Retrieved January 12, 2007.
  43. 1 2 NFL Films, NFL Network. Retrieved April 22, 2007.
  44. George, Thomas.ON PRO FOOTBALL; The Giants' Best Play Of the Dallas Game Was Simms to L. T., The New York Times, September 5, 1995. Retrieved April 22, 2007.
  45. Phil Simms Archived 2008-10-07 at the Wayback Machine., Retrieved October 11, 2010.
  46. "Tony Romo to replace Phil Simms in broadcast booth".
  47. "Tony Romo retires from NFL, to replace Phil Simms at CBS".
  48. Wood, Benjamin. "'Elementary' recap: Sherlock has friends in low places" Entertainment Weekly website (November 13, 2014)
  49. "He's Not a Quarterback, but He'll Do". The New York Times. August 1, 2014.
  50. "Former Eagle Star Simms Inducted Into Kentucky Pro Football Hall of Fame". Morehead State University. June 24, 2011. Retrieved January 18, 2016.

  • McConkey, Phil, Simms, Phil, and Schaap, Dick. Simms to McConkey: Blood, Sweat, and Gatorade, New York: Random House. 1987 ISBN 0-517-56703-2
  • Neft, David S., Cohen, Richard M., and Korch, Rick. The Complete History of Professional Football from 1892 to the Present. New York: St. Martin's Press. 1994 ISBN 0-312-11435-4
  • Pervin, Lawrence A. Football's New York Giants: A History. McFarland 2009 ISBN 0-7864-4268-9
  • Pooley, Eric. True Blue, New York, January 26, 1987 issue ISSN 0028-7369 (available online)
  • Schwartz, John. Tales from the New York Giants Sideline, Sports Publishing LLC, 2004 ISBN 1-58261-758-9
  • Simms, Phil and Meier, Rick. Phil Simms On Passing, New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc. 1998 ISBN 0-688-16108-1
  • Whittingham, Richard. What Giants They Were. Chicago: Triumph Books 2000 ISBN 1-57243-368-X
  • Simms, Andrew Luck. "Luck doesn't make NFL Throws" Los Angeles, Huffington Post LLC November 3, 2011

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