“The day after our last Super Bowl (in 2010),” Barrow said.
So that means Monday was day 1 of CBS’ preparations for Super Bowl L (the big 5-0) in 2016, the next time it has the big game. While the question may not have been discussed yesterday, you can be sure it will be asked within the highest reaches of the network: Will CBS give Phil Simms another shot at the Super Bowl?
CBS is an extremely loyal place, and Simms has been a good ambassador and a capable soldier, serving as its lead NFL analyst since 1998. Sunday was Simms’ seventh Super Bowl; two were with NBC. Quite an impressive track record.
Unfortunately for Simms, Sunday was by far his worst. As I wrote in a post yesterday, I can’t recall another time when the lead analyst in a Super Bowl received such an avalanche of bad reviews. It wasn’t as if all the critics had a conference call and decided what to write. Rather, it was a spontaneous reaction to an analyst who seemed hesitant to speak out during key points of the game.
Regardless of what network officials might say, the negative reaction definitely was heard all the way up to the office of CBS president and CEO Leslie Moonves.
CBS knows it was a bad performance by Simms. The one time you really don’t want to be bad is during a Super Bowl.
If CBS decides to stick with Simms for the 2016 Super Bowl, it creates a problem. His presence will revive all the harsh critiques from Sunday. It will become a storyline for that year’s coverage. Can Simms redeem himself after 2013’s clunker?
“That’s not the story they’ll want,” said a TV insider.
If not Simms, then who? Internally, CBS has two former ABC Monday Night Football analysts on its roster. Boomer Esiason is terrific as a radio analyst for Dial Global Sports. The network could shift him from the studio. Dan Fouts, a Hall of Famer, has received high praise for his work at CBS and on radio for Dial Global.
CBS also could go outside. Who knows? What if Peyton Manning plays two more years and retires at the end of the 2014 season? Boom, CBS swoops in and puts him in the No. 1 seat next to Nantz in time for the 2016 Super Bowl.
Here’s a thought: Don’t discount the possibility of CBS using a three-man booth, with Simms and another analyst for the 2016 game. In fact, I think it is a strong possibility. It would enable the network to transition to a new look in the booth and allow Simms, who will be 61 in 2016, to call one last Super Bowl.
A little history: That’s exactly what NBC did with Simms when he went from player to analyst in the 90s. He teamed with Dick Enberg and Paul Maguire on that network’s No. 1 crew.
Then again, CBS could decide to stick with Simms. Perhaps, the network will determine one bad game doesn’t define a career.
Remember what I said about loyalty.
CBS doesn’t have to decide Simms’ fate today or even for next year. But a decision will have to made at some point.