Thursday, July 1, 2010
Updated: July 2, 9:50 AM ET
Simms disputes police, calls case 'weak'
ESPN.com news services
NEW YORK -- Police say Tennessee Titans backup quarterback Chris Simms told them he'd been smoking marijuana before he was stopped while driving Thursday -- but he says he was just talking about cigarettes.
Simms, a son of former New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms, called the case against him "very weak" as he left a Manhattan courthouse after his arraignment on charges of driving while impaired by drugs.
"I think it speaks for itself," Simms, 29, said as he walked to a waiting car, with his pregnant wife on his arm. Released without bail, he's due back in court Aug. 23 on the misdemeanor and traffic-violation charges.
Police and prosecutors said Simms slurred his words, had bloodshot eyes and smelled of marijuana when stopped early Thursday at a downtown Manhattan police checkpoint, with his wife, Danielle, in the car.
According to a court complaint, Simms told an officer he'd been "smoking marijuana in the car earlier."
But Simms' lawyer, Nathan Semmel, said the quarterback didn't say that, and wouldn't do it.
"My client never admitted to smoking marijuana that night. He admitted to smoking cigarettes that night," Semmel said.
He called it "absurd" to suggest that Simms would drive impaired while his wife, eight months pregnant with their second child, was riding along.
"There's nothing in his record, whatsoever, that suggests that he would be that reckless," Semmel said.
He suggested two other unidentified passengers in the car's back seat "might be the sources of the odor" of marijuana that police reported. Police did not find any marijuana in Simms' car and his' Breathalizer was 0.0, a source familiar with the situation told ESPN.com.
The New York Police Department had no immediate comment.
If convicted, Simms could face up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. He didn't take prosecutors up on offer to plead guilty Thursday in exchange for a $500 fine, three days of community service and a six-month license revocation.
The Titans, in a statement, said they were aware of the case and gathering more information about it.
Simms has started 16 games during his six-year NFL career and is in his second stint with the Titans. He came to Tennessee in 2008 after being released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, then returned to the Titans after playing for the Denver Broncos last year as an unrestricted free agent. He was a third-round draft pick by Tampa Bay in 2003.
In 2006, Simms had emergency surgery to remove his spleen, which ruptured during a game against Carolina.
His father is now an announcer and analyst for CBS Sports and led the Giants to two Super Bowls, playing 14 seasons with the team. The elder Simms was the the MVP of Super Bowl XXI. He led the Giants to a 11-3 record before breaking his foot in 1990, when the Giants went on to win XXV.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.