Now, we know.

This is why men spend so many Sundays on the couch dreaming that their sons grow up to be athletes, and pretty good ones too.

This is why fathers spend countless hours in backyards, or in the neighborhood parks, making them run routes, teaching them about spirals, ensuring they can throw to a spot accurately.

Obviously, this is the payoff.

Chris Simms met the media Thursday, days after having his spleen removed and bags of someone else’s blood pumped back in.

I don’t want to be him, I want to be his dad, Phil.

Conventional wisdom tells you a father’s pride comes when his boy hoists a championship trophy and reveals a championship smile.

That’s probably true. But perhaps there’s more.

Everyday experience tells you a father lives through his sons accomplishments on the field, or on the diamond, or on the court. That a man can relive, if not create his own legend, by watching his son or daughter decimate the opponent on the other side of the ball.

That’s also probably true. But maybe, just maybe, there’s more.Maybe a man’s greatest moment comes when his offspring pushes aside the athletic ability and reminds us that under it all there still is a place for grace and dignity and humility and honesty and understanding and comedy and bravery.

Maybe a man’s greatest moment comes when his child shows up at a podium to tell the world that he played while bleeding internally and knew it and was determined to ride it out.

That counts. Counts a lot.

In his first interview since the demoralizing loss to the Panthers almost two weeks ago, Simms showed that you don’t have to have all your abdominal organs to have intestinal fortitude.

Here’s what he could have done.

He could have complained about getting hurt and blamed Panthers for bludgeoning his backside and blistering his belly.

But he didn’t.

He could have witched about being kept in the game when everyone in the stands, in the huddle and on the Panthers side of the field could see – by the third quarter – that something was terribly wrong.

But he didn’t do that either.

Shoot, he could have, if he wanted, laid a dump truck of blame squarely on the initial diagnosis of team doctors who sent him back out onto the field after he put his knee down and seemed to be praying for strength.

Instead, Simms said all the right things.

He proclaimed that he was the one who insisted that he could continue. That he was the one who was responsible for going back in the game.

Short of the Academy of Motion Pictures, he thanked everyone from the doctors and nurses at St. Joseph’s Hospital, to his teammates and coaches and the Bucs administration for their support and care.

He remembered to show some love to the fans who sent him cards and candy and flowers and a bevy of other gestures of good will. These were the same fans, it should be noted, who booed him late in every game so far this season.

Remember how Packers quarterback Brett Favre said it wasn’t his job to teach backup Aaron Rodgers how to play in the NFL?

Simms avoided that route by pledging support for rookie Bruce Gradkowski, who will replace him for the indefinite future.

When has a lawyer ever shown love to the lawyer who took over his client?
And in one last moment of value, Simms, who becomes a free agent in 2007, reiterated his commitment to his team and franchise.

Here’s a question, how would super agent Drew Rosenhaus have handled that issue?

This is what we know, Simms’ season with the Bucs seems over and his career in a Bucs uniform is uncertain. But at least for one day, he reminded us that it is not what a man does, but how he does it that matters. He proved that it is not what a man says, but how he says it that carries weight.

No one knows how much of what Simms said was sincere, how much of it was the truth. In reality, no one cares.

He looked like a leader, made out like a man.

Dad should be proud.


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