Chris Simms says his relationship with Jon Gruden is beyond repair and has been told he will not be with the team in 2008.
But with no trade on the horizon, the Bucs' forgotten quarterback wants to be released immediately, bringing an end to his career in Tampa Bay that seemed inevitable after missing nearly two seasons following surgery to remove his spleen.
"I feel like I'm being held hostage," Simms said. "I hate that all this has happened. I love Tampa. My family loves it here. But I've been quiet long enough. I feel like it's time to let everybody know why I'm not out there."
In an interview with the Times Monday, Simms broke his silence on why he has not attended the Bucs' off-season workout program.
He also shed some new light on his deteriorating relationship with Jon Gruden, who was instructed by the Glazer family to keep Simms on the roster last season against the wishes of the head coach. The Bucs signed Simms to a contract extension at the end of the 2006 season that paid him $7-million over the past two seasons. He is scheduled to earn a $2-million base salary in 2008.
Simms, who eventually was placed on Injured Reserve last season, says he's completely recovered from complications of his surgery in 2006. He is even entertaining attending the Bucs' mandatory minicamp, but not before lobbing bombs at the Bucs.
"I don't know how anybody can expect me to go back there and look coach Gruden in the eye and believe the relationship is hunky dory after some of the things that were said and done," Simms said. "Things were handled wrongly from the business end of it and definitely things were handled wrongly as far as how you treat a person.
Among the items Simms revealed Monday:
• Simms says he has confirmed that three teams contacted the Bucs on the second day of the NFL draft last April to begin discussions about trading a sixth- or seventh-round pick for the estranged quarterback. But when the Bucs selected San Diego quarterback Josh Johnson in the fifth round, "it basically ended that discussion."
• He said there is a 50 percent chance he attends the Bucs' mandatory minicamp June 17-19. If he still is on the roster in late July, he plans to report to training camp. "I'm not holding out or doing anything like that," Simms said. "if they want to deal with that media circus, that's fine with me."
• Simms offered that Gruden wanted to release him at the start of last season but the Glazer family intervened and made sure he had a spot on the roster, forcing the Bucs to keep four quarterbacks.
"I had a number of people tell me in the organization the Glazers basically made sure I wasn't released," Simms said. "That's the hardest part of this whoile thing. The Glazers are a great family. They're very caring human beings. I respect them in so many ways.'
• The NFL was so suspicious when the Bucs placed Simms on Injured Reserve last year that they made him fly to Missouri to be examined by a physician to determine if he had a season-ending injury.
"I had never been on a single injury report, so the NFL was a little suspicious," Simms said. I had to go see a doctor in Missouri that worked for the NFL. He was shocked there were all these MRIs of my elbow and shoulder but nothing of my abdomen. He put me through a battery of tests and knew I had some core issues there."
Simms says he knows he's not in the Bucs' plans for 2008. In fact, his name on a chart in Gruden's meeting room is off to the side next to Jake Plummer, the retired Broncos quarterback whom the Bucs will try to collect $7-million of his pro-rated signing bonus during a hearing in New York Wednesday.
"I know for a fact I'm not in their plans. I don't understand the hold up at this point. When Bruce Gradkowski got cut last week, Bruce Allen told him it was because there's not enough reps in practice for every quarterback. It's a crappy situation.
"How can I look (Gruden) in the eye when I know he wanted me cut last year. He did not want me to be part of the team and I have a lot of resentment about that. Nine or 10 months after a serious injury, I put my life on the line, it was the most serious injury they've ever been associated with, I worked as hard as I could to get back and he wasn't even going to give me a full year.
"I have a serious issue with that, I really do."
Simms said he felt the Bucs mishandled his injury last training camp, insisting that he had passed all physicals and was completely healthy. In fact, they attributed his performance to 'rustiness.'
"The way they handled it was wrong," Simms said. "I don't know if they wanted to cut me and didn't want to liable or they were hoping somebody would trade for me, but for him to say I was completely healthy and passed all the physicals and that I just wasn't performing well, that was a low blow. It was."
At one point, Gruden asked Simms if his problems had a mental component.
"He asked me, 'Is this injury in your head?'" Simms said. "I found that completely ridiculous. I was going through a tough time. I kept my mouth shut all summer. I felt I was betrayed to a degree. Nobody took time to talk to me on a personal level and see how I was doing."
Simms said the club did a series of tests on his elbow and shoulder when he complained of arm tightness, the result of not using his body to throw the ball.
"Anybody with common sense would check the area where there was a 10-inch scar going down the middle of my stomach first."
According to Simms, he was pressured into making an appearance in a preseason game at Miami, playing in just one series.
"The night before the game, coach asked me if I was ready to play," Simms said. "At that point, I knew there was no way I was ready to play. I had only had a few scout team reps for several weeks. But I went in there because I felt like they were giving me no choice."
"I understand the business part of this and what's in the team's best interest," Simms said. "But the time has come where I've got to look out for my interest, too.
"I feel great, I'm ready to play football again and I can't see how they expect me to back there and play and think everything will be fine. I'm doing this for legitimate reasons. I have a legitimate beef here. Things were done wrong from a business aspect and things were done wrong on a personal level. That's not how you treat people that have busted their butt for you."