Simms boys catching up in Tennessee
Posted: Thursday, August 12, 2010 4:23 pm
By: By BETH RUCKER, Associated Press Writer
KNOXVILLE (AP) — Chasing football dreams has kept brothers Chris and Matt Simms apart for a long time — until now.
They have both landed in Tennessee, where the sons of former New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms are continuing their quests.
Matt Simms is beginning his first year with the Tennessee Volunteers with a chance to start at quarterback. Chris Simms can cheer him on from Nashville, where he’s back for a second stint with the NFL’s Tennessee Titans.
“It’s been exciting that he’s in Nashville and we’re so close,” Matt said. “We really haven’t had time like this to hang out in the summertime before. We’ve always been kind of spread apart because of our job, I guess you could say.
“It’s definitely special that he’s right down the road, and hopefully we can go to each other’s games this year and really enjoy that experience for the first time in a long time,” he said.
Chris left their hometown Franklin Lakes, N.J., in 1999 to play for the Texas Longhorns and was drafted in the third round of the 2003 NFL draft by Tampa Bay. After five seasons with the Buccanneers, he had a brief stint with the Titans before spending last season in Denver.
After Matt graduated from high school in Franklin, he signed with Louisville in 2008, but transferred to El Camino Community College after playing very little for the Cardinals during his freshman season.
Matt said Chris’ career is primarily what inspired him to play football.
“I started playing this game because of him,” Matt said. “I know my father was a great football player, but I was kind of growing up as he was retiring, so I didn’t get to see much of it. What I know of the game, I know because of my brother.”
Chris is very comfortable in the role of protective older brother.
“The hard thing as a brother is when he does get criticized I’m going to have a hard time because I’m going to see the local news and want to call up and put somebody in a head lock,” Chris said.
He learned about criticism in 1999 when he committed to play with the Vols only to change his mind two months later and signed with Texas, drawing the ire of the passionate Tennessee fans.
“I know no one will forgive him for that, and I understand,” Matt said. “I probably don’t forgive him for that either. I told him, ‘Hey, it’s University of Tennessee? How can I turn that down? It’s an amazing place to be,’ and he totally agreed with me. He was happy about that because I was happy about that.”
Now the two are separated by a 180-mile drive across Interstate 40, a trip Matt made several times this summer to see Chris and his family. They spent their time eating — a lot — and indulging their competitive nature by playing their favorite video game, FIFA Soccer, and throwing the football occasionally.
They have plenty in common beyond being quarterbacks with the same last name. At 6-foot-3 and 217 pounds, Matt is just a bit smaller than Chris’ 6-4, 230-pound frame.
And Chris can commiserate with Matt’s struggles for playing time. He suffered a spleen injury in his final year at Tampa Bay in 2007. Then he bounced between the Titans and the Broncos the last three seasons before competing this summer with Kerry Collins and Rusty Smith for a role behind Vince Young.
“One thing we talked about more than anything is you’ve got to take the blows as they come and just let them roll off,” Chris Simms said.