5 Minutes — and a lopsided passing competition — with Phil Simms
May 1, 2014 – In November, I sat down with legendary New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms for a “5 Minutes with…” Q&A that will be published in the July Issue of Yankees Magazine, along with my interview with the Giants Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells (see blog entry below).
I spoke with Simms at the 2013 ALS Association Greater New York Chapter’s annual dinner, and the former quarterback discussed his admiration for Lou Gehrig — whose life was cut short by ALS.
“I wish I could have seen him play,” said Simms, who was honored at the dinner. “I know everything about Lou Gehrig. He stood up to what he had in the most dignified way, and I am honored to be here tonight.”
Simms also shared his thoughts on playing for Parcells.
“He was tough,” Simms began. “The way he talked to players was different from anything I had ever been around. It was very cool, but you couldn’t be sensitive. He was good to play for, and he made all the hard work tolerable. Bill was as tough as any coach that has ever been in professional football, but at the end of the day, you didn’t hate him for it. That’s a great quality.”
When I asked Simms about his MVP performance in Super Bowl XXI, he spoke about the significance that game has had in his life and the emotions he felt when he took the field.
“Well, when I really think about it, I’m here tonight and you’re talking to me because of that game,” said Simms, who completed 22 of the 25 passes he threw for 268 yards and three touchdowns. “It sure isn’t because I beat the Detroit Lions twice in 1985. I didn’t know how important that game was at the time, and that’s probably a good thing. [Super Bowl III MVP] Joe Namath and I were laughing recently about the fact that if we knew what a big deal it was to play in the Super Bowl, we would have been a lot more nervous. I was not afraid to fail in that game, and I took the field with an aggressive approach. I wish I had played my whole career like that.”
In April, Simms came to Yankee Stadium for an exclusive Yankees Magazine photo shoot, and team photographer James Petrozzello snapped several portraits for the Q&A piece, including the image below.
While we were on the field, Simms showed off his passing ability.
“I bet you I can throw a football underhanded farther than any of you guys can throw it overhand,” Simms said to me, Petrozzello and managing editor Nathan Maciborski.
Before any of us took him on, Simms threw an underhanded strike to me that sailed about 40 yards. Had I not gotten in front of the pigskin, it would have gone several more yards. I threw the football back to Simms from where I was standing, and it hit his hands with much less velocity than the pass he threw to me. At that point, I knew he had won the competition, and instead of prolonging it, we played catch from a shorter distance (see photo below).
As much fun as it was to interview the NFL great, catching a football from him was the best part of the experience.
–Alfred Santasiere III