CBS' Gumbel, Simms worthy of showcase

Network's top pairing mixes solid play-by-play with insightful analysis

January 28, 2001|By Bill Fleischman | Bill Fleischman,PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS

PHILADELPHIA - Greg Gumbel and Phil Simms must be doing something right.

Unlike the lightning-rod role that Dennis Miller filled this season on "Monday Night Football," Gumbel and Simms do their jobs efficiently and without controversy. No one has called or e-mailed, complaining that they can't stand either of the lead NFL broadcasters for CBS Sports.

An estimated 80 million viewers will be listening to Gumbel and Simms tonight as they describe the New York Giants-Ravens Super Bowl.

In their three seasons together on CBS, Gumbel and Simms have clicked. They're not yet Pat Summerall and John Madden in their prime, but they are a good listen.

Gumbel doesn't have the ego of his famous brother, Bryant. Greg comfortably presents the situations clearly and gives Simms room to talk. Simms provides the insight that a former NFL quarterback should, plus he has a subtle and self-deprecating sense of humor.

On the football front, Simms knows what he is talking about. Simms, who started in the Giants' Super Bowl XXI rout of Denver and was injured when they beat Buffalo four years later, isn't surprised the Giants are within one victory of another championship.

"The Giants' defense is much better than it was six weeks ago," he said. "Kerry Collins continues to improve. I believe in his talents as an NFL franchise quarterback.

"All the [Giants'] competition in the NFC went downhill late in the year. The only team that stayed hot with the Giants was the Philadelphia Eagles. The Giants are a better football team because they beat them three times."

Asked his evaluation of Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, Simms replied, "I never once said any player in the same sentence as [former Giants linebacker] Lawrence Taylor. I do not believe there's anyone capable of taking a game over as he did, emotionally and physically, for a football team to win games."[But] I will put Ray Lewis' name with LT. [Lewis] can do both things for his football team. He has tremendous athletic instincts, kind of like Larry Bird and Magic Johnson had in basketball. That's why he has a chance to be a great player: He can control a football game like Lawrence Taylor did."

Simms said both offenses might gamble more than expected because they can rely on their outstanding defenses to keep the score close.

"I think [defenses] will dominate the game," he said. "But there could be points scored. Everybody's thinking it's going to be 6-3. There's a chance somebody could go in the 20's. It'll be because the defenses set it up."

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