Say whatever you'd like about Phil Simms: He's been around the block, and he can take it. He won two championship rings with the New York Giants, one as MVP of Super Bowl XXI. He's spent the last 17 years as an NFL analyst for NBC and CBS. He's acted. He's a man. He's 55. He's not a kid.
Take a shot at one of his quarterbacking spawn, however, and Phil Simms just might hunt you down and make you answer to his fists. Or so says one of his fellow Super Bowl MVPs, ex-Heisman Trophy winner turned ESPN analyst Desmond Howard, who wrote in a series of tweets this afternoon that police had to intervene to keep Simms from threatening and possibly attacking him during pre-Super Bowl festivities in Dallas, apparently over a comment Howard made on ESPN GameDay about Simms' son, Matt, before the younger Simms led Tennessee against LSU on Oct. 2. Per Howard:
At NFL-Xperience and Phil Simms just threatened 2 hit me b/c I said his son was 1 of the worse [sic] QBs in the SEC. I told him "LET'S GO!" … I am DEAD serious about the Phil Simms thing. We all thought he was joking, but he kept going and said he wanted 2 take a swing at me!! … During the season we talked about the Tenn v LSU game and I said "u will see 3 of the worse [sic] QBs in the SEC" That's what Phil did not like. … It ended w/ police stepping in between so I could continue my appearance w/ fans.
Syntax notwithstanding, if you're on the side of journalistic integrity, it's hard to argue with Howard: Simms went 2-6 as a first-year starter for Tennessee – the two wins coming over Tennessee-Martin and UAB (in overtime) – and was benched for the final month in favor of true freshman Tyler Bray, who proceeded to lead four straight wins to get the Vols into a bowl game. Against LSU specifically, Simms was 12-of-23 for 121 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions in a 16-14 Tennessee loss.
For his part, Simms issued a statement through CBS Sports about three hours after Howard's tweets: "Desmond and I were having a private conversation that became heated. But at no time was there ever a chance of any physical confrontation, or that I felt the police officer assigned to me by the event planners for my appearance needed to separate the two of us." So there you go.
Simms isn't the first father to defend in his son in overheated fashion, or even with violence/threats thereof. Within that category, though, he's probably at the top of the list of dads who should obviously know better.
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Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.