Former NFL quarterback and sportscaster Phil Simms visited U of L’s Comstock Hall on Tuesday night as part of a new forum, Conversations with Champions. Simms recounted memories of his successful careers in football and sportscasting and shared his thoughts and wisdom about current issues in the world of football.
The event was moderated by local sports journalist Billy Reed, and presented by the Sports Administration program.
“The goal of Conversations with Champions is to promote principles of integrity and character,” said Sports Administration professor Gary Bernstein in his introduction, asking, “are you ready to be inspired?”
Reed began by asking Simms about his recent comments about the Washington Redskins controversy. Simms said that he plans to call the team by only Washington on television, boiling it down to the fact that people have told him that it offends him.
The mostly-full house in the concert hall applauded upon hearing his thoughts on the controversial issue.
The conversation then moved to his childhood. Simms grew up in Louisville and attended Southern High School. He was looked at by a few schools, but only received an offer from Morehead State University, where he had an unspectacular career. To the surprise of many, however, he was drafted in the first round by the New York Giants.
Simms said that if he were to be playing today, he would never have been drafted as high as he was, blaming ESPN draft analysis and calling it “moronic talk.”
He went on to a successfull NFL career, eventually leading the team to a victory in Super Bowl XXI. He was named the MVP of the game. During his career he was named to the Pro Bowl twice and was an NFL MVP in 1986. Although his number was retired by the Giants, he has not entered the Hall of Fame.
A big topic during the forum was the recent focus on concussions in the NFL. Reed said that some former players are unable to watch football now because they feel that new contact rules have changed the game too much. Simms, however, disagreed.
“Some of the contact is detrimental to your long-term health,” he said. “So it has to change.”
He mentioned that many of his teammates are “really beat up” due to football injuries, and that he himself makes an effort to keep his mind active to offset effects of past concussions.
Most of the conversation, though, focused on amusing stories from his career, such as his relationship with famous coach Bill Parcells and his famous line after his Super Bowl victory: “I’m going to Disney world.”
After reminiscing about his career, Reed asked Simms if he took time to think about his past achievements.
“I’m not a big look-back guy,” he said in response, saying he looks forward and enjoys taking on new challenges in life.
Simms then discussed his TV career, which has included roles at ESPN, NBC and his current job at CBS. He also talked about his job doing voice overs for the Madden football video games, describing it as 45 hours of talking.
He also had some analysis rookie quarterbacks Teddy Bridgewater and Johnny Manziel.
For Bridgewater, the former Cardinal, he had kind words. “It’s gonna work for Teddy Bridgewater very well because the system (at Minnesota) is perfect for his skill set,” said Simms. “It’s not a question of if he plays, it’s when.
And Johnny Manziel, we’ll see,” he said to laughter.
Simms, ever the sportscaster, also had a Super Bowl prediction to share with the audience: a Seattle v. Denver rematch with another Seattle victory.
The entire forum was filmed and will air on KET.
Full disclosure: Billy Reed serves on The Louisville Cardinal’s Board of Directors.