In the interest of full disclosure, I am a die-hard New York Giants fan. I first started seriously watching football during the 1986 season when the Giants defeated the Denver Broncos, 39-20 in Super Bowl XXI. In that game, Phil Simms had one of the best Super Bowl/Championship game performances of all time going 22-25 for 268 yards and 3 TD’s earning him MVP honors. But aside from that one game, Phil Simms had a solid career and every year when the finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame are announced, I wonder why Phil Simms does not get the recognition that he deserves.
I must admit that when it comes to comparing players past, present or future, I get confused because I honestly don’t know what the measuring sticks are anymore. Is it statistics? Wins? Super Bowl/Championship titles? I can only assume that it’s some combination of those, but either way, I do not see why there are some quarterbacks in the Hall of Fame and why Phil Simms is not.
Before I continue, let me just say that it is not my purpose to bash anyone. I think that the players that I will mention deserve to be in the Hall of Fame, it’s just that I believe Phil Simms should be amongst them. In order to properly evaluate whether or not Phil Simms belongs in the Hall of Fame though, we will need to compare some players to Simms. This can be a tricky proposition as it is really hard to properly compare players from the earlier days of the league when passing the ball was not as easy as it is in the modern era. So, with that being said, I decided to compare Simms to two of his contemporaries who are presently in the Hall of fame: Troy Aikman and Jim Kelly. Here is a quick look at how the numbers measure up:
As I mentioned before, it’s hard to do an “apples-to-apples” comparison when looking at quarterbacks, even when playing during the same era. For example, Jim Kelly’s touchdowns and interceptions jump out because he also played in an offense that threw the ball more than Simms and Aikman did. But when you take a look at the chart above, does Simms not belong with these other great players? Aside from his completion percentage, what numbers pale in comparison? Also, off the top of your head, name me one wide receiver that Simms played with during his career?
Now that we have looked at the statistics, let’s talk about the name of the game: winning. I can only assume that a huge reason why Troy Aikman was enshrined in Canton was because he quarterbacked three teams to Super Bowl titles. As for Jim Kelly, although he did not win the “big one,” making it to the Super Bowl for 4 straight years is a tremendous accomplishment.
As for Simms, he had one of the greatest single game performances in Super Bowl history, but I think what gets forgotten is that during the 1990 season when the Giants defeated Kelly’s Bills in Super Bowl XXV behind Jeff Hostetler, Simms had lead the Giants to an 11-2 record before getting injured, ironically, against the Bills during the regular season. Jeff Hostetler filled in for Simms and played fantastic football leading the Giants to the title that year, but what if Simms had not gotten hurt? The Giants dismantled the Chicago Bears in the divisional round so we can assume that Simms would have won that game. But what about the NFC Championship against the San Francisco 49ers when the Giants won 15-13? Or the Super Bowl against the Bills when the Giants won 20-19? We’ll never really know how those games would have panned out if Simms had not been injured, but assuming the Giants still win with him, would Simms be in the Hall of Fame today with 2 Super Bowl titles on his resume?
Like I mentioned earlier, I am an unapologetic fan of the New York Giants. I watched Phil Simms play with poise and toughness, all while consistently winning games for the Giants. Most Giants fans that I know have compared, and will continue to compare, any quarterback that the Giants bring in to Phil Simms and when you compare his numbers to other Hall of Fame-worthy quarterbacks, it is clear to me that Phil Simms deserves to be recognized with them.