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Once again, Simms misreads opposition

Chris Simms’ plan to try to get out of Tampa Bay could have been better executed.

BILL SERNE | Times (2006)

Chris Simms’ plan to try to get out of Tampa Bay could have been better executed.

At the core of it, his job is one of vision.

He is a quarterback, after all, and as such, he is expected to be able to read the field. He has to be calm enough, reasoned enough, to make the right decision when things are going wrong. He has to be able to decide which of his options is more likely to work out for the best.

All things considered, Chris Simms has misread the coverage once again.

If you want, you can think of it as one last pass knocked down at the line of scrimmage.

Don't get me wrong. I still like Chris Simms, although it should be pointed out that there have been a lot of empty chairs lately at the support group. Simms is a good kid, and he has been through a lot, and it is easy to make the argument that the Bucs have been as bad for him as the other way around.

But if Simms really wants out of Tampa Bay in the worst way, as he says, then someone ought to point out that he is picking the worst way to do it.

As those who still bother to pay attention noticed, Simms didn't show up at the Bucs' minicamp last week. Whether it was out of anger or out of frustration, out of feeling underappreciated or overcriticized, Simms stayed home. The closest he got to football, evidently, was his PlayStation.

Which helped him … not a bit.

That's the thing Simms needs to understand. At this point, it no longer matters who has been unfair to whom, or who wants what out of this pending divorce.

For Simms, the important thing is to acknowledge that his road back to the NFL, whether it is for this team or another one, begins on a practice field.

By now, this much should be clear: The Bucs are not going to set Simms free simply because he desires that they do so. If we have learned nothing else, it is that the Bucs front office is not going to be embarrassed into releasing a player because of his angry rhetoric, or guilted into it by the length of his surgery scars or forced into it by popular sentiment.

Look, you could hold a "Free Chris Simms" rally and hand out T-shirts, and it wouldn't help. As long as the Bucs view Simms as a potential asset, it does them no good to allow him to go along his way. You can call it cold-blooded. Or you can call it the NFL.

For instance, if Simms really believes the Bucs have been unfair to him, his refusal to work has merely opened the door so the team could be really, really unfair to him.

Say that when the Bucs go to training camp in late July, Simms continues to stay away. If that happens, all the Bucs have to do is shrug and place him on the "Did Not Report" list.

Just like that, and the Bucs don't have to pay Simms his salary (in fact, they can ask for a rebate on his signing bonus). Just like that, and he doesn't count against the salary cap. Just like that, he doesn't take up a spot on the roster.

And the worst thing for Simms? After next year, he would remain the property of the Bucs. In certain religions, such a fate would be known as "the netherworld."

In other words, the NFL is a place where the system is stacked against most holdouts. Every now and then, a star can get a better deal if his team needs him badly enough. Everyone else is swimming upstream.

So what should Simms have done? He should have been the first guy on the field. He should have taken the first strides toward clearing up the mystery of whether his health has returned. He should have followed coach Jon Gruden around the field, singing You and Me Against the World until practice ended.

After all this time, could Simms have changed the minds of an organization? Probably not. But by showing up, he might have forced its hand to make a decision sooner rather than later. The Bucs have released several players since minicamp. If Simms had shown up, perhaps he would have been one of them.

Let's be honest. There are no indications the Bucs have any plans for Simms. These days, Simms might as well be an orange jersey stuffed in the back of the equipment room. Still, perhaps some other team has a player in its own doghouse to trade for him. Perhaps injury or circumstance will create a need for him.

Under any circumstance, however, wouldn't a team want to know if Simms can still play? After all, it has been a long time since he has won a game.

At this point, no one knows when he will ever win another.

If he does, however, it is safe to assume it will not be from his living room.

Once again, Simms misreads opposition 06/21/08 [Last modified: Saturday, June 28, 2008 7:12pm]

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