Saturday, May 5, 2012
Simms & Co. try to make their mark
By Rich Cimini
The Jets are the land of the rising sons -- at least that's what the sons are hoping.
The team's rookie minicamp roster includes three players with fathers who played in the NFL:
• Tennessee QB Matt Simms -- father, QB Phil Simms, Giants, 1979-93.
• Penn State RB Joe Suhey -- FB Matt Suhey, Bears, 1980-89.
• Penn State DB D'Anton Lynn -- RB Anthony Lynn, Broncos/49ers, 1993-99. Currently, Lynn is the Jets' running backs coach.
Simms probably has the most pressure, simply because his dad is an icon in these parts, a former Super Bowl MVP. His older brother, Chris, a coaching assistant for the Patriots, also played in the league, from 2004 to 2009.
Simms said he received simple advice from his father before heading to minicamp, where he's participating on a tryout basis, hoping to earn a contract: "Don't mess up."
A righthander thrower like his dad (Chris was a southpaw), Simms has a strong arm, but his accuracy and touch need work. Rex Ryan praised him, saying he "has arm talent and, obviously, the right pedigree." Simms didn't get much playing time in college, bouncing from Louisville to a JUCO to Tennessee, where he started only two games last season.
"This game, it's going to take you for a loop every now and then," said Simms, crediting his father and big bro for their support.
Asked for his expectations, Simms shrugged his shoulders.
"I don't know," he said. "I just want to keep playing football. It's as simple as that. I just want to keep playing the game that I've been playing since I was a child."
Simms, who lives in Franklin Lakes, N.J., worked out for the Giants before the draft. But they weren't interested.
They all grew up around the game, as did Ryan, son of retired coach Buddy Ryan. Ryan said the NFL pedigree is a "huge advantage" for players.
"If anything, it's helpful," said Suhey, whose father gained fame as the blocking back for the late, great Walter Payton. "They've been through it and know so much about the game."
Like Simms, Suhey is competing on a tryout basis. Lynn has a contract -- he signed as an undrafted free agent -- setting up a daily, father-son reunion. He said he chose the Jets because of his admiration for the defensive coaches and the scheme, not because he'd be close to his father. That was an added bonus.
"It's definitely pretty cool," said Lynn, a productive starter at Penn State. "There aren't that many people that can say they got a chance to play for their dad at the professional level. Even though we're not on the same side of the ball, it's something that's pretty cool."
Lynn said he received a call from Ryan after the draft, asking if it would be "weird" to sign with the Jets. He discussed it with his agent and felt it was the best opportunity.