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Simms Fought Pain, Is Out Indefinitely

September 26, 2006|From the Associated Press

TAMPA, Fla. — Chris Simms took hit after hit, responding the way football players are taught.

He endured the pain and kept on playing.

"In the huddle, he was gasping for air," Buccaneers receiver Michael Clayton said Monday, a day after the Tampa Bay quarterback's spleen was removed after a 26-24 loss to the Carolina Panthers.

"He'd call part of the routes, then gasp for air and finish it.... Everybody was saying: 'Chris, are you OK?' You could tell he was fighting it."

Simms is out indefinitely, although Coach Jon Gruden has not ruled out his playing again this season. In the meantime, rookie Bruce Gradkowski becomes the starter. Tim Rattay will be the backup, and the Buccaneers (0-3) will explore signing a veteran to fill in as the No. 3 quarterback until Luke McCown comes off the physically-unable-to-perform list.

Tampa Bay initially thought the 26-year-old son of Super Bowl-winning quarterback Phil Simms had difficulty breathing because of sore ribs and dehydration but rushed him to the hospital when it became apparent the injury was more serious.

"He got hurt early in the game and was able to complete the first half. He went into the locker room, was diagnosed carefully and had no symptoms whatsoever of a spleen injury," Gruden said. "He got an IV.... He was persistent about playing and was confident he could fight through it."

It was not clear whether Simms was hurt on a particular play or if the injury resulted from an accumulation of blows. Gruden felt the most damaging may have occurred late in the fourth quarter when Carolina's Al Wallace hit Simms on a pass play and landed on top of the quarterback.

Gruden thought Wallace should have been penalized for roughing the passer. Two plays later, Matt Bryant kicked a 28-yard field goal that gave Tampa Bay a 24-23 lead with five minutes left.

Simms attempted one more pass after that.

Gruden said he didn't learn Simms was in the hospital until he was driving home from the stadium and received a call from the team trainer. He visited the quarterback early Monday and found him in good spirits.

"He's going to be just fine.... His football career is in no jeopardy," Gruden said.

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