SUPER POLL 50 | 5: Phil Simms savored his day in the sun — and Disney World

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Our series on ASN’s 50 greatest NFL championship competitors of the past 50 years continues with No. 5 Phil Simms, originally published on Feb. 7.

“I’m going to Disney World!”

Ever wonder who was the first athlete to say that after a big win?

Phil Simms knows.

“I was the first one to say, ‘I’m going to Disney World,’ said Simms, whose Giants beat the Denver Broncos in 1987 to win Super Bowl XXI at the Rose Bowl. “I didn’t think it would kind of turn out to be what it is. … When the game was over, they turned the camera to me and I smiled and said, ‘I’m going to Disney World’ because two things — I was happy and I couldn’t believe I was actually doing something like that on the football field.

Phil-Simms-5“But it’s fun to look back and know I was the first one to do that and to still see, to this day, a lot of years later, that they’re still doing that.”

Disney paid Simms a reported $75,000 for using their line, which kicked off the on-going ad campaign for the amusement parks.

Simms, who played at Morehead State when it was in the Ohio Valley Conference, reflected on his experience in that Super Bowl on CBS Sports in February 2010. His Giants went on to win Super Bowl XXV as well, and after retiring, Simms embarked on a career in sports broadcasting. He’s worked for ESPN and NBC and is the lead analyst with Jim Nantz on the NFL on CBS and will be in the booth for Super Bowl 50 on Sunday.

Simms had a stunning game in his first Super Bowl, setting records for consecutive completions (10), quarterback accuracy (88 percent) and passer rating (150.9). He completed 22 of 25 passes for 268 yards and threw three touchdowns.

Interestingly, Simms credits a coach he never played for for helping him become a long-time NFL starter. During a pre-draft workout, Bill Walsh instructed Simms, who was well known for his arm strength, to throw more softly.

“I had always been taught to throw it hard; just drop back and rip it,” Simms told Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News. “But when you throw the ball hard it gets away from you every now and then, or at times the receivers drop the ball. In about 15 minutes to a half-hour, I learned about the rhythm of throwing and being a little better technically. The results were awesome.”

Simms never had a chance to play for Walsh, but he did go on to become the Super Bowl XXI MVP, a two-time Pro Bowl selection (1985, 1993), a Pro Bowl MVP (1985) and the Giants retired his No. 11.

The backup to Jeff Hostetler for Super Bowl XXV against the Buffalo Bills, Simms is able to put his one shining Super Bowl moment into perspective 29 years later.

“The biggest thing is once you’re there and you’re waiting to be announced,” he said on CBS, “all those dreams I’ve had and thought of for so long, those are about to come true. And those feelings of waiting for that introduction, they were everything I thought they would be.

“When they finally did introduce us, I think we ran out onto the field to ‘New York, New York,’ which we heard all during the year. It was a great moment.”

 


Above and middle: Phil Simms finished his career at Morehead State with a school-record 5,545 yards on 48.9% passing (409 of 835) with 32 touchdowns and 45 interception. But he attracted the attention of San Francisco 49ers head coach Bill Walsh, who nearly drafted Simms instead of Joe Montana in the 1979 NFL Draft. (Photos courtesy of Morehead State Athletics)

Jill R. Dorson

Jill R. Dorson is a freelance writer based in San Diego.