Analyze this: Phil Simms worst announcer ever

Kirk Minihane
January 22, 2016 - 8:55 am

Phil Simms will be the CBS analyst for Sunday's Patriots-Broncos game, as well as the Super Bowl. (Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

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On Sunday the Patriots and Broncos will play a game that almost certainly will be the most-watched non-Super Bowl contest in the history of broadcast television. The game will be on CBS.

Two weeks from Sunday the Patriots and Panthers (a Kirk Minihane guarantee -- and I'm never wrong) will play in Super Bowl 50, which will be the most-watched program in the history of television. That game also will be on CBS.

And for both events, CBS will have Phil Simms as its analyst, as its voice to explain the game of football to hundreds of millions of people around the world.

The only problem with this, of course, is Phil Simms is the worst football analyst on CBS. To be fair, he'd also be the worst analyst on Fox, ESPN and NBC. If he worked at Bravo he'd be that network's worst football analyst. And this is no small feat -- there are plenty of crappy analysts trying to talk football to us every Sunday. Simms just happens to be the worst. He's the worst in any sport right now, I think. And it's not close.

Before we blast away at this poor guy, let's list a few positive things about Phil, shall we? Only seems fair.

By all accounts he's a good guy.

He had a terrific Super Bowl once.

He is almost fluent in English.

His son is a quality Patriots-hating troll.

He enters a game with no bias at all -- I don't think even the most pro-Patriots Brady butt-kisser would suggest he hates this team. Or any team. 

He knows the rules better than Mike Carey.

The bad? Well, let's start with this: He’s never had an opinion. Ever. Jim Nantz will set up Simms with a question after a play, or coaching decision, or if a replay proves a call should or shouldn’t be overturned, and inevitably Simms will pause before either telling us he's not sure or that it could go either way.

Simms is the very worst thing to be when you're an analyst: afraid. He's scared to criticize quarterbacks -- holy crap, go back and watch him fall over himself defending Peyton Manning during Manning's tsunami of ducks and overthrows this past Sunday -- and he'll never criticize a head coach. Look, I thought Dan Fouts sucked Saturday. So did you, I'm sure. But I'll say this: At least he jumped on Andy Reid for historically screwing up the clock at the end of the game. Easy target? Sure. But Simms never would've touched it. And that's partly because he wouldn't want to upset Reid but also because it never would have crossed his mind. And that's the truly frightening part.

I don't need an analyst to be negative as default. That can creep into parody, no question. Johnny Miller is an example. But I need the capacity to criticize, the willingness to call someone out. Cris Collinsworth -- who I thought had an awful Super Bowl and has regressed over the last, say, 18 months -- can do that when he's at his best. Jeff Van Gundy does that. John McEnroe does that.

Three years ago, during the Ravens-49ers Super Bowl, the Ravens failed on a fake field goal attempt at the end of the first half. For a good, thinking, curious analyst this is gold. Phil Simms was in the booth. His reaction? "I'm not going to second-guess the call, Jim." This happens with Simms all the time -- he doesn’t like to rock the boat. He’d rather not give his opinion. He doesn't see the point.

That's your job, Phil. Agree. Disagree. But opine. And the sad reality is he learned no lesson from the failure of three years ago. He still leaves the second-guessing to us. If anything, he's actually regressed. If there's a holy crap moment this Sunday, or two weeks from Sunday -- think Pete Carroll electing to throw at the goal line -- Simms will say nothing. Just like he did a couple of weeks ago. He was the analyst for Steelers-Bengals and had not a thought about the mental collapse from Cincinnati. No criticism for Marvin Lewis. Nothing.

And this: Simms has fought bravely this year but is 0-18 vs. the English language as we head into the final weeks of the season. I'm guessing he won't pick up a win anytime soon. Scared, unable to tell us anything we don't know and uncomfortably inarticulate gets you $3 million a year and the most coveted analyst job in sports. Makes sense.

Boomer Esiason would be perfect. Rodney Harrison would be terrific. Tim Hasselbeck -- the best weekly guest on WEEI -- would be great, but he fails the dopey network standard of being a really good former player. So Ray Lewis and all the other Hall of Famers over the years (Jerry Rice, Lawrence Taylor, Joe Montana, Emmitt Smith, Tony Gonzalez) get jobs without even a tryout instead of guys who can actually communicate, argue and talk football.

My guess? Sunday will be Peyton Manning's last game. And two weeks later will be the last game Phil Simms calls with Jim Nantz (and I could write another 1,000 words on Nantz and his embarrassing conflict of interest regarding Manning). And next season Simms will be replaced by ... Peyton Manning, who we know nothing about as a potential analyst. Could be great, could be awful. CBS will hire him and give him $5 million a year without knowing, either. That’s how it works. Throw a star a bunch of money and just hope.

Manning might just be the worst quarterback in the NFL right now, but he’ll never be the worst analyst. Phil Simms has retired the title. And he’ll prove it over the next two weeks.

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