It’s entirely possible that Chris Simms will never again be a No. 1 QB for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or any other NFL team. It’s entirely possible that he will never play another NFL game. Wouldn’t bet on either possibility.
When we heard about the awful injury Simms suffered on Sunday, thoughts immediately turned to his father, Phil. No injury Phil Simms ever suffered was as potentially life-threatening as the ruptured spleen that sent Chris Simms to the hospital and into surgery just hours after the Bucs lost to the Carolina Panthers. But Phil’s career was stalled and almost ended by injury and Chris, like his father before him, played through the pain. This is not to praise Chris Simms’s action on Sunday and it’s certainly not meant to let the Bucs coaching and training staff off the hook for not noticing the obvious and severe pain their QB was in. But Simms did what great athletes do and that’s hard to stop and impossible to criticize.
His father had been an outstanding rookie QB for the Giants in 1979, showing why the Giants thought he was a No. 1 pick even if none of the fans did. Then the next three years were, in order, ended early, ended early, lost entirely. When he came back in 1983, all seemed right. But in his second game he smacked his hand on an Eagle helmet and when he came off the field the cameras caught a quick view of the bone in his thumb that had broken through the skin. He was in agony and fans wondered if they’d ever see him again.
We saw him. We cheered him and we watched him take the Giants to their first Super Bowl win when he completed 22 of 25 in Supe XXI. Believe me, if you saw Phil Simms’s hand that day in Philly, you’d know what I’m talking about with Chris Simms: If he’s allowed to come back, he will.
"In the huddle, he was gasping for air,'' Bucs wideout Michael Clayton said on Sept. 25, a day after the QB’s spleen was removed.
"He'd call part of the routes, then gasp for air and finish it. Everybody was saying: 'Chris, are you OK?' You could tell he was fighting it.''
No one’s certain when Simms was hurt but he was hurt and he kept getting hit and he kept getting hurt. Smart? Certainly not. Predictable? In fact, yes.
At Texas, where he never really seemed to fit in, he was just as tough as he’s going to have to be.
Longhorns Coach Mack Brown recalled for the Associated Press a story about Simms facing Nebraska in 2002. The QB suffered a dislocated finger on his left (passing) hand. He went to the sideline, had it popped into place and finished with 419 yards passing.
"He wouldn't let us pull him out of the game. He said `Please call timeout so they can pop it back in.' He didn't want to miss a play,'' Brown said.
So we expect the day will come, perhaps this season, more likely next, when Chris Simms will be back on the field as a No. 1 QB.
And Week 3 reminded us all of how injuries are so much with the NFL game. Shaun Alexander, the league MVP, left the Seahawks rout of the Giants with a broken foot. Did he break the bone during the game or did he play with a cracked bone from a previous injury and the game made it worse? We don’t know. We do know that there’s a big worry on the unbeaten Seahawks and there’s a lot of Fantasy players trying to overcome his loss, too.
We also hear that Trent Green’s concussion will keep him out of at least one more KC Chiefs game and it should. No doctors here, but there has been enough reading and learning about the severe effects of concussions to know that anyone who suffered the kind of blow to the head that Green did, should not be on the football field anytime too soon.