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To a degree

Thirty-six years after leaving Morehead State, Phil Simms – CBS Sports analyst, former Super Bowl M.V.P., two-time Pro Bowler – returns for something he left behind

CBS Sports lead analyst Phil Simms, seen here following Morehead State University President Wayne D. Andrews, finalized requirements for his bachelor’s degree this spring, 36 years after leaving Morehead State for the NFL draft. Morehead State University Photo

Few can match the achievements that former New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms can check off from his football career. He owns a Super Bowl ring. He appeared in two Pro Bowls during his 14-year NFL career. He holds the record for highest percentage of completed passes in the championship game. And after he retired – and the Giants retired his jersey – Simms moved on to a successful second career in broadcasting.

But even after all those career highs, Simms was still missing one thing: a college degree.

This weekend, 36 years after leaving Morehead State University – located two hours east of Simms’ hometown in Springfield, Kentucky – he returned to campus to receive his bachelor’s degree.  He was just two classes shy of his diploma, and Morehead State worked with him to complete his requirements.

“It’s something I just wanted to get done,” Simms said. “It’s been hanging out there.”

For Simms, who grew up in a family of eight children, Morehead State provided an opportunity no other university offered: an athletics scholarship that allowed him to attend college and play football. Simms says he was serious about pursuing a professional career from his early days at Morehead State, and if he had not pursued that path, he likely would have wanted to remain close to the game as a teacher and football coach.

“Going to college gave me the chance to lead a different life away from home,” Simms said. “I’ll never forget the fact that they gave me a football scholarship. I’ll never get over that. That was the only way that I could go to college. It was the perfect school and the right situation.”