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Phil Simms talks Daniel Jones & more from Super Bowl LVIII


LAS VEGAS – The similarities between Daniel Jones and Eli Manning have been well-documented, but Jones also has much in common with Phil Simms, the most prolific quarterback in Giants history before Manning.

Simms was the seventh overall selection in the 1979 NFL Draft, Jones the sixth choice 40 years later. Each quarterback defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in his first career start. And both Simms and Jones battled injuries as often as opposing teams in their first five years in a Giants uniform.

Simms played in just 12 total games from 1981-83 – none in 1982 – because of shoulder, knee and thumb injuries, leading to questions about his future entering his sixth season in 1984. Because of hamstring, neck and knee injuries, Jones has had only one fully healthy season, when he led the Giants to the playoffs in 2022 and is preparing for his sixth season by rehabilitating the torn ACL he suffered last Nov. 5 here in Las Vegas. He played in a career-low six games in 2023.

Simms, who is in town as part of CBS' Super Bowl LVIII broadcast crew, can empathize more than anyone about the challenges facing Jones.

"Listen, no matter who, unless you're Patrick Mahomes and a few people, you go through these periods, and you've just got to fight," Simms said. "Would I have any things to tell Daniel Jones? Hey, man, buckle up. That's it. It's going to be rough. Just show how tough you are and do it and just keep working. That's all you can do."

To say that Simms recovered nicely would be a vast understatement. He played in every game from 1984-86, keyed the Giants' rout of the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXI by completing a record 88% of his passes, and still excelled in his final season in 1993, when he started every game as the Giants advanced to the second round of the playoffs. Simms was selected to his second Pro Bowl that year.

Simms believes Jones can overcome his early-career injuries and enjoy long-term success.

"He definitely has starting NFL talent," Simms said. "That's the one thing I'll argue for as long as you want. I wish he'd yell at somebody sometimes. Is that okay? Not that that makes you a quarterback, but it just tells me something about you, too. I didn't do it on the field, but poor (center) Bart Oates. He'd sit next to me on the bench, 'Bart!' I would just look back and go, 'Why didn't he punch me?'"

Is starting talent enough to win in the NFL?

"That's a good start," Simms said. "If you don't have that, you're not going to be, 'Oh, I've got all this other stuff.' I think success gives you confidence and then you could turn into another guy. I think he has that chance, but like I said, it's going to be really rough. Why? The media, the fans, the national people who think they know everything – I shouldn't say it that way, who think they know. I think I've watched him enough. I've seen enough to see the top end. I don't know what NFL evaluator said this once, I believe in it, too, he goes, 'Watch their 20 best plays; that's who they are.' Now, it's your job as a coach to make sure they have more to do that. I kind of believe that about quarterbacks."

View photos of Super Bowl XXI MVP and Ring of Honor inductee Phil Simms through the years.

Though Simms can recite the similarities between him and the successor who is following his path four decades later, he believes he would not have received the chance to continue his career after spending much of his early years convalescing in today's NFL.

"No, I would not have," Simms said. "They would have moved on. You got hurt, you've been hurt, get out. Not get out, but that's just the way it would be. Really, the media and the fan base would drive it a lot. They tried to do it to me anyways.

"If you're a quarterback and you get to the NFL, you'd better turn it on quick because the windows are shorter and shorter. First-round guys get two years, and they bench them. It's crazy. I'm glad it wasn't that way when I came out."

Why didn't the Giants seek an alternative to Simms?

"First off, I was a high draft pick, so that helped me a lot," Simms said. "Two, I'm trying to phrase this the right way, I was better than the other guys. That's why they kept me. I never walked on the field and went, 'Wow, this guy throws it better than me.' So maybe I was arrogant, which I was at times, of course. But I think that's another reason. There were spurts even when I was getting hurt that I had gains. I didn't know this when I was playing, but I look back and go, 'Wow, they were patient with me, and it worked out, I think.'"

As it can for Jones.

*CBS is televising its record 22nd Super Bowl. Simms has been with the network since 1998, first as a game analyst and since 2017 as part of CBS' studio show, "The NFL Today." Always cooperative and candid, Simms shared his opinions on several topics at a news conference attended by on and off-camera CBS personnel.

*On whether he considers Mahomes the NFL's best quarterback.

"I do," he said. "He changed the landscape of quarterbacks. For real; it's not an overstatement. I'm involved with a lot of quarterbacks. We teach everything that Patrick Mahomes does, because he does it perfectly. He's on the run, what he does mechanically, all that, it's perfect. Of course, he's a big guy, long arms, big hands, that really helps a lot. But everybody teaches the Patrick Mahomes style now, and honestly, if you can't do it, good luck in the NFL."

*But not every quarterback can do what Mahomes can…

"They've got to be able to do it to a certain degree," Simms said. "I mean grade school kids that can run right and throw it to the left side of the field. Oh, you can't throw across to the left. Oh, really, who made that rule? Mahomes has done 250 of them in his career. You teach them all that when they're young. It's an explosion. Look at this year's draft. It's going to be like that almost every year."

*Reviewing Mahomes' mechanics:

"Let's break it down little by little," Simms said. "One, he's a tremendous athlete, and his running doesn't get the credit it deserves. He can do anything. I'm sure he could shoot 3-pointers and hit eight out of 10. He's a baseball pitcher, which is a big thing. But his mechanics, they're flawless. It's not what people think. His mechanics are flawless. You don't have a bad golf swing and get lucky on a turn. Quarterbacks, when you have the mechanics down, it gives you confidence, you feel like you can do anything, you make great decisions. Because all you need to see is a window you can get it to. The way he played when he came out of college, yes, it was different. I couldn't wait to watch him in the pros. In the last game of his rookie year, he played Denver. Hell, the weekend was over, that's all I was thinking about, 'I can't wait to watch this game.' And I went home and watched, and I was like, 'Oh my god, he's real.'"

*On the challenges of competing in today's NFL.

*Every quarterback and coach is judged week to week," Simms said. "I'm amazed by it. It's just so opinionated. Having a good year is not good enough anymore. I mean, I was listening to TV today, and guys were sitting there saying it's a wasted year if they don't win. And I'm like, I don't know if it's a wasted year. It's something you live with and maybe it's a missed opportunity, but to categorize everything in such a harsh way is … I have a hard time with TV. That's why I like my job because I get to counter people who say stupid things."

*On still holding the Super Bowl completion percentage record 37 years after hitting 22 of 25 passes against Denver:

"I'd say to my family and friends, it's a lot more important than it is to me," Simms said. "They talk about it every year. I think I'm right in saying this, four years ago, Jimmy Garoppolo was 19-of-21 (actually, 18-of-21). I said he's going to probably beat it because it was just easy. And then I don't know, he tipped a pass or something (and finished 20-of-31). But yeah, it's something that I like. At this time of year, I'd like to hear it every once in a while, but it's never mentioned."

*Thirty years after his final game, does he ever reflect on his big victories and other accomplishments?

"I think really what happens even in this business that I'm in now, and especially in football and sports, I think more about the ones we lost," he said. "Yeah, I do. I thought we had a championship team in '88, and we let the Jets beat us in the last game of the year. I felt the thing with that year, it was about our offense just scoring when we wanted, and it was different on the defensive side.

"But '89, that was a huge one that got away, or at least we should have been at worst in the (conference) championship game. So, really, I think about them probably more than I do (wins). But I think most guys are that way. I think most players are like, 'Yeah, we did this and did (that), but damn, we let a few get away.' I think covering the league now, I realize how hard it is to have success. I don't think I realized that as much when I was playing, because damn, we just had a lot of good players for quite a big stretch."

*Does attending the Super Bowl bring back memories of playing in the game?

"Not really," Simms said. "I think what I do keeps me pretty tuned in for everything but that. But I think, listen, I'd be lying (if I didn't say) every once in a while, I could be driving in my car going, 'Wow, how lucky was I,' that we did have success and all that. Then I think, too, if you don't have that certain success as a player, mostly as a quarterback, because people know it and all that, that you've got live with it. I'm angry enough. I sure didn't need that."

View photos of the all-time history of New York Giants in the Pro Bowl.


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