If ever they needed a quarterback with guts, now would be the time.
Unfortunately, Chris Simms has been lacking a spleen since 2006.
Yet now, strangely enough, Simms may find himself a potential starter in Denver's 2009-'10 season. In light of a recent trade earlier this week, in which young superstar Jay Cutler was dealt to the Chicago Bears, backup quarterback Chris Simms has decided that now is the time to step up.
Now is his chance to try and re-grow that spleen. But this time, he plans to make it better. Faster. Stronger. He has the technology. Or does he??
“Well, it’s certainly going to be a challenge, that’s for sure,” Simms explained in an Internet “press conference” with his cousin and her brother-in-law on Thursday evening, hosted via his macbook camera.
“The spleen I was born with was poor at best, I mean, did you see how petrified I was in the pocket? I’ve seen the tapes, and there are peewee flag football players with more poise.”
Even so, Simms’ battle has not always been an uphill one. After a successful college career behind center with the University of Texas, surrounded by unbelievable talent, Simms managed to conceal his weak natural spleen.
By a stroke of luck and on the coat tails of his well-known father, Simms was given a further opportunity to keep his spleen a secret by sitting at third string in Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the entire 2003 season.
He spent his days foot loose and fancy free, collecting a paycheck and walking around with a fake British accent on the weekends to pickup girls. But his luck would soon run out.
It was on a fateful Sept. 19, 2004 against the Seattle Seahawks, where Simms spleen, in all its inadequacy, was on full display. Reluctantly shoved into the game, he began spinning in a circle and simply tossing footballs around blindly, surprisingly ending up 21-32 with 175 yards and an interception.
Simms then received his first start two games later against New Orleans on October 10th, 2004 after the Bucs began their season at 0-4.
At that point the coaching staff had figured hey, we're already screwed here, why not give Neville Longbottom over there a shot? Simms went 5-for-8 in that outing for 75 yards, miraculously sparing his tiny baby spleen, but injuring his shoulder early in the game.
After missing three weeks, Simms' absence allowed the poor Brian Griese to secure the starting quarterback position with three straight wins.
Former Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden still can recall the moment when he realized what Simms was lacking in his spleenal region.
“I can remember saying to myself as I made my "chucky" face up and down the sideline during Simms' first start. I was like, sweet Jesus, it’s as if that kid’s out there playing WITHOUT a spleen! He was bumbling around, getting his ass sacked on every other play.
"Maybe if he would’ve been able to stop shaking like a girl for five seconds he could have thrown a ball to the right jersey color. Hell, given a second chance, I would've traded the guy for Ryan Leaf. Though I hear he lacks both his spleen AND brain, so...”
Sadly, Gruden’s tenure in Tampa Bay began its end with his gamble on Simms. Even so, Gruden wishes Simms good luck in his attempt this season.
“Look, I bore witness to the crushing of the first spleen. Was I shocked to learn he even had one in the first place? Damned right I was. But let’s be honest, you can be sure he plays the same without one as he did with one.
"Maybe growing a new, better spleen could get him up to second string for mop-up duty when Kyle Orten gets tired. That’d be nice.”
For now, the journey seems arduous, but Simms knows he’s ready.
“It’s been two years since my last start, and with Cutler out of the way all I can hope is that with a new spleen I’ll be able to compete for a starting job,” Simms stated.
“I’m making sure that I watch ALL the tapes of the many times when I under threw my receivers, missed open receivers, and incorrectly read the defense, so that I can remember what to do.
"As for creating my new spleen, I’ve started taking Flintstones vitamins three times a day and I really do think I feel something growing in there. This isn't like yesterday when it turned out to be indigestion, either. This time it's for reals!"
The Denver Broncos can only hope Chris Simms is right, as with any luck they can expect to ride his newly-grown spleen to an excellent 5-11 season, and an even higher 2010 draft pick to boot.