From the high school football fields of Louisville to Morehead State’s Jayne Stadium to the fields of the National Football League, it has been quite a journey for Phil Simms.
The former Eagle quarterback took his place among six other legends that were inducted in the 2011 class of the Kentucky Pro Football Hall of Fame Friday (June 24) at the Lexington Opera House. It was the ninth annual induction ceremony.
"The five years I spent at Morehead State have afforded me both professionally and personally,” Simms said. “My days at Morehead gave me, and continue to give me, tremendous opportunities in life. The lasting friendships I made there continue to this day."
Simms, who may be the best known Eagle athletic alumnus, was presented for introduction by former Eagle teammate John Moses.
“We are very happy that Phil is once again being recognized for an outstanding pro football career,” said Brian Hutchinson, director of intercollegiate athletics. “He has meant so much to MSU through the years and he continues to shine a light on our great University.”
It is the second straight year that a former Eagle player has been inducted into the Hall of Fame. Gary Shirk, a two-time All Ohio Valley Conference tight end was in the 2010 class.
A four-year letterman, Simms was the Ohio Valley Conference’s (OVC) Offensive Player of the Year in 1977, and finished his MSU career with 5,545 passing yards and 32 touchdowns.
After his playing days at Morehead State, he was the New York Giants' first selection (seventh overall) in the 1979 NFL Draft.
"I want to thank everyone at Morehead State, who has showed a lot of support to me," said Simms. "I look forward in being a little more involved with them. They are doing some great things and I want to be apart of that."
Simms enjoyed a 15-year NFL career and held 19 team records when he retired.
As an All-Pro quarterback, he led the New York Giants to two Super Bowl titles. He completed 22 of 25 passes in Super Bowl XXI, defeating the Denver Broncos, 39-20, to give the Giants their first Super Bowl title and earning him MVP honors.
The Louisville Southern High School graduate established team marks for most passes completed and attempted for one game (40 completed, 62 attempted), season (286, 533) and career (2,576, 4,647), most career touchdown passes (199) and most 300-yard games in a career (21).
He was a Pro Bowl selection in 1985 and 1993 Pro Bowls and was the 1985 Pro Bowl MVP. He was named All-Pro in 1986.
His jersey number #11 was retired by the Giants in September 1994 and Simms was inducted into the Morehead State Athletic Hall of Fame in October 1995.
Simms joined CBS Sports in January 1998 as lead analyst for the CBS Television Network's coverage of the NFL. He also was a studio analyst and co-host for ESPN and lead NFL analyst for NBC Sports.
He and his wife, Diana, have three children, Christopher, Matthew and Deirdre.
The remainder of the inductees were: Kerry Rhodes of University of Louisville and the Arizona Cardinals; Ron Hill, Kentucky State University and the Dallas Cowboys; Dale Lindsey of Western Kentucky University and the Cleveland Browns; and Bob Talamini of the University of Kentucky and the New York Jets.
The group also honored George Blanda, who played 26 seasons of professional football, the most in the sport's history and scored more points than anyone in history at the time of his retirement, and legendary Chicago running back Gayle Sayer.
Kentucky is the only state to have its own Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The purpose of the hall, which inducted its first class in 2003, is to appropriately honor persons that have brought recognition to the state of Kentucky, or have by their unusual successful service achieved accomplishment(s) on behalf of their school, or have by act or contribution distinguished themselves as an unusual former National Football League player, coach, referee, owner, management, etc., or supporter of Pro Football.