Phil Simms is headed to the studio.
A fixture as a game analyst at CBS for two decades, Simms will join the network’s “NFL Today” cast for the upcoming season.
Simms, who starred in high school at Southern and in college at Morehead State before playing in the NFL, recently was replaced as the top game analyst at CBS by Tony Romo after the Cowboys quarterback retired. He and CBS Sports President Sean McManus had been discussing Simms eventually moving to “NFL Today” for several years. Simms has experience in a similar setting from his work on Showtime’s “Inside The NFL.”
“When Sean told me he wanted me in the studio, I thought about it a bit,” Simms said Wednesday. “I told him I would like to do (games) a bit longer. I love doing the games, meeting during the week with coaches and players, getting the inside info. It is the best.
“But I also thought that I will work in New York and watch all the games instead of prepping for two teams, and will have all week to study the league, and that really intrigued me.
“There are a lot of things I don’t get to say on games I have a chance to say now. There are a lot of things I would like to talk about that I never would have talked about during games.”
Simms joins Boomer Esiason, Bill Cowher, Bart Scott and James Brown as part of the program. He says he’s more than comfortable being part of that lineup, and looks forward to some pointed conversations among the group.
“James and I get along really well,” he said, adding with a laugh, “on ‘Inside the NFL,’ we’re always playing footsie because I want him to send it back to me so I can challenge something someone said, or make a comment.
“Boomer and I have known each other for years and we do not have thin skins, so we can say anything with each other.
“Of course, coach Cowher, well, he’s the coach, and we are going to disagree a lot because we were players and he was a coach.
“We all love football, and I think that will come across, and I hope we talk about the aspects of the game I have opinions about that are different from what you hear on some other (shows).”
McManus is certain that will be the case. His network received criticism for the Romo announcement that seemed to leave Simms in the cold. Instead, McManus believes the former quarterback who was part of two Super Bowl titles with the Giants is entering a new and productive phase of his broadcasting career.
“When the news hit that Tony Gonzalez would not be back on the show, this seemed logical,” McManus said. “We had a number of discussions about it and I was excited about it, and he was excited.
“This will be good for viewers. Anyone who has watched just 30 seconds of ‘Inside The NFL’ will know that.
“One of the things I like best, Phil has strong opinions, but he has a way of doing it in a very respectful way. And you see the interaction they have on ‘Inside The NFL.’ It’s really good stuff, a really good mix.”
Mixing in Thursday night games to Simms’ schedule made viewers wonder if the workload had become too heavy. Simms strongly disputes that, noting that he felt last season was the best on Thursday nights for the network.
“A lot of people said it wore on me, and I am not going to say it physically was easy,” Simms said. “I told everyone over the years, man when that game is ready to start, I never felt I was not completely prepared, and I couldn’t wait for them to turn the camera on.
“So that stuff is not true, it was never to the level where I couldn’t handle it.”
What about handling being absent from the broadcast booth after so many Sundays (and Thursday nights) behind the microphone?
“Yeah, the excitement of just being there, hearing the crowd, the prep and talking to the coaches and players who are such a part of it,” he said. “But I will probably get over that pretty quick.”