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In Praise of Chris Simms

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I will admit that I have been one of the leaders in ripping Chris Simms over the years. But those days are dead and gone.

I'd give him a solid "B" grade for his performance in college, because even thought he led Texas to a lot of wins he didn't ever win the big one.

As far as his prospects for having a good NFL career, I wasn't holding my breath. Still, I did want the Dallas Cowboys to draft him in the second round of the 2003 Draft despite my doubts. Not only did they pass on him there, they passed on him again in the third round and he fell all the way to Tampa Bay with a late third-round pick.

He didn't do squat his first two years, and then when he took over for an injured Brian Griese midway through this season I figured the Bucs would immediately go into the toilet.

Not so. Simms led the team to a 6-5 record as the starter, including a 5-1 division record that led Tampa Bay to the NFC South title. Then came last week's playoff game against the Redskins, where I was rooting my ass off for Chris to succeed.

I know for a fact some of you can't let Chris' past failures go, but I have. It's time to support him the same way we do any other Texas Ex. Simms played great against the Redskins, unfortunately throwing a few passes too low and getting them tipped at the line, which led to interceptions.

But with the game on the line, Simms delivered a perfect pass that his receiver dropped in the end zone. That would have forced overtime, and the way the Redskins offense was going I'd be willing to bet with almost 100% certainty that Tampa would have won in overtime and had a good shot to beat the Bears this weekend.

Simms, making his first playoff start, played way better than Eli Manning did in his. Carson Palmer's playoff debut lasted only two plays.

What I'm getting at is that now it's not a matter of "if" but "when" will Simms become an NFL star. If recent rumors are true and Tampa makes a run at Terrell Owens, that time will be next season.

However, and here's the irony of ironies, Simms becomes a restricted free agent in March, meaning the Bucs will have the right to match any offer he receives from another team or demand compensation. I guarantee he's going to be one of the hottest free agents on the market and someone will be willing to throw a lot of money at him and give up a draft pick or two.

Would you really rather draft a rookie or get a guy like Simms, who is ready now to start and who has already taken his lumps learning the pro game? I can tell you at least 20 teams who would experience an upgrade at quarterback if they signed Simms. I know, I can't believe I just wrote that either.

Hell, Dallas may realize its still looking for the next Troy Aikman and bring Simms back to Texas. Imagine Vince Young playing for the Texans and Chris Simms playing for the Cowboys. If that thought doesn't make a smile come across your face, you aren't a true member of the Burnt Orange Nation.

--TR--