Chris Simms relives being a kid and having your dad win the Super Bowl
At the age of 5, I learned paradise wasn’t nirvana. A year later, I understood why.
After the 1985 regular season my dad, Phil Simms, took us with him to Hawaii and the Pro Bowl.
While in paradise, an event – the Super Bowl – interrupted my stay. Who cared about this Super Bowl I wondered? We were in Hawaii. Then my parents told me the way things were.
One year later I would understand as my dad’s New York Giants had a magical season culminating in a Super Bowl victory over John Elway’s Denver Broncos.
These are the memories a 6-year-old has of that run …
I was a kindergartener in Mrs. Saalfrank’s class at Woodside Elementary School in Franklin Lakes, N.J. When 1986 started, the Giants were favorites to win the Super Bowl. The pressure was on.
I lived and loved football. There were pictures of me in a Giants hoodie wearing No. 11, my dad’s number. By the time I was 4, I could tell you every player on every team in the NFL … that has not changed to this day. As a 6-year-old, I woke up to look at the back page of the New York Post.
The whole year was intense and I was used to that, but ’86 has always had a special place in my heart.
The Giants clinched home-field advantage against the Packers in the last game of the year. My dad told me how important that was. It clicked, like okay, now all the teams have to come here to beat the Giants in the Meadowlands to go to the Super Bowl.
The first playoff game saw the San Francisco 49ers come to The Meadowlands. Jerry Rice caught a pass from Joe Montana, a slant route, no one touched him and he fumbled. What had been a quiet stadium then erupted.
You could feel the electricity. I was in section 111, the family section. From that point on, the Giants played like they were on fire. Jim Burt knocked out Joe Montana and the Giants won 49-3. My dad threw four touchdown passes.
To this day I can still remember the Jim Burt play where he hit Montana. Lawrence Taylor intercepted and ran the ball into the end zone. It was possibly the craziest and loudest I saw Giants Stadium.
It was celebratory after the game. Dad came home. The whole family had flown in from Kentucky. We were eating dinner and everyone was happy. Everything was great.
The rest of the week went right back to business. I woke up for school and Dad was gone already. It was time to start worrying about the next opponent. I was a little stressed.
In class, everyone was young and not as into football as I was. Though, the older kids would say “Go Giants! Tell your dad ‘good game.’” My teacher was in heaven. She was truly excited and would wear her Giants sweaters to school. She was really cool and added to my own excitement.
Next up was the Washington Redskins. It was a cold, windy day and my mom left me home. I wasn’t okay with it, but I listened. I can still remember sitting at home with my babysitter, a woman named Lois who was a huge Giants fan. We sat there together and lived and died with each play.
I remember seeing the excitement on Mom and Dad’s faces after the game, saying “we’re going to the Super Bowl.”
Back at school, there was an outpouring of support. Banners and things were hung in the hallways and people were excited for the Giants to be in the Super Bowl. The whole tri-state area was pretty crazy.
The Giants were beloved and had been bad for so long and here they were finally going to the Super Bowl.
I can remember counting down the days. Sunday was almost like Christmas for me every week. I couldn’t wait for the game and to watch Dad play.
I realized we were going to California and it was a special year because the Super Bowl was at the Rose Bowl and Dad told me what a special place it was. There was added excitement because of the venue. It holds a special place in my heart to this day and I can’t wait for the Super Bowl to be played there again.
The Wednesday before the big game came and we got on the plane to Pasadena. I was friends with T.J. Taylor and Jim Burt’s son, Jim Jr. They were exactly my age. It was a snowy day and we couldn’t take off. I was having a blast though. We had to de-ice a bunch of times and were on the plane for nine hours in all. The stewardesses were letting children talk about the Giants on the PA.
When we landed, everybody on the plane cheered because we finally made it.
We didn’t see my dad the whole week. He was in business mode. With both sides of the family coming to the game he needed 55 tickets and somehow managed to buy them all. Dad probably played the game for free.
The Giants’ family got to go to Disneyland, which was also part of the theme to the halftime show. Pretty big stuff for a 6 1/2 year old. I can remember running around with the other children.
I wanted to see Dad, but you weren’t going to sneak into the players’ hotel with Bill Parcells as the head coach. Dad was scared of Bill and the Giants were concerned about business and winning.
Needless to say, I never saw Dad that week.
I can remember getting on one of the earliest busses from the hotel to the stadium. It was a beautiful, sunny California day. We were some of the first people walking around the grounds. It was empty when we walked in and someone asked me for my first autograph on the Super Bowl program. I was the spitting image of Dad, so I stuck out. I printed my name on the program.
We had more fans inside the Rose Bowl than Denver, like 70/30. You could see the blue and red all over and the orange in one little corner.
The next thing I remember is Neil Diamond singing the National Anthem and the teams running onto the field. I can remember bits and pieces of the game. Relatives were scattered all around the section we sat in.
I was nervous because I realized how tremendous John Elway was. Remember, this was the year the Broncos were coming off the 98-yard drive to beat Cleveland.
I was very nervous, especially in the first half. Elway was playing awesome and the Giants were losing 10-9 at halftime. I could feel the nervousness from my mom. My pain was eased by the halftime show which sent me back into child mode. I can remember Mickey and Minnie Mouse and Pluto.
It got dark and the second half was a blur. I can’t remember certain plays. I just remember the joy and the happiness and the Giants kicking butt. I knew they had won it because family and friends were coming over with five minutes left in the game.
My dad was having the game of his life (22-of-25, 268 yards. 3 TDs), which I did not realize. With the game coming to an end, we tried to make it down to the first row to see if we could get my dad’s attention. In typical Dad fashion, he wasn’t looking for us. Still focused. We just sat there. Jim Burt came into the stands and picked me up and hugged me. He kissed my mom. He brought us on the field. We never did see my dad after the game.
I can remember being in the end zone of the Rose Bowl with some kids playing and having a football toss … red end zone with blue Giants letters. We were playing in the Super Bowl.
My dad didn’t know we were on the field. He was busy being the first QB to say ‘I am going to Disney World.’ I will give him a free pass.
We got back on one of the family busses. When we got to the team hotel, we headed into my dad’s room. A million family members were already there. My dad was sitting on the bed and I ran in and he hugged me. You could feel the overall happiness of the moment.
My dad was on Cloud Nine. He was a small-town Kentucky boy who not only was quarterback of a Super Bowl winning team and the MVP, he had played the best game in the history of the Super Bowl.
The memories are of the happiness. After the game, Dad was looked at in a whole different way. Even as a 6 1/2 year old, I was aware something special had been done. We got a Subaru for Dad winning the MVP. We did a Disney World commercial in front of our house for the Sunday night Disney show on ABC. He had a Super Bowl ring on and was holding me. It was a special time in my whole family’s life and mine.
There was a pep rally at Giants Stadium, but my parents did not bring me (too cold). There was no parade in the Canyon of Heroes. Mayor Ed Koch didn’t let it happen because he was still angry that the Giants had moved to New Jersey.
My personal dream of playing in a Super Bowl never came true. Dad doesn’t wear his Super Bowl rings. I, however, like to go back and look at them. I still have moments where I put his ring on and pop in the tape of the game. The memories are as clear now as they were then. I don’t see them fading.