“Big” Ed Simmons was an interesting/scary/complicated guy. He was the classic silent giant. Rarely talked to the media during his 1987-97 career. Now Ed played on two Super Bowl champions and was named to the greatest 70 Redskins after starting 104 games as a sixth-round pick so he was a legit player.
But Ed never sniffed a Pro Bowl. Probably unfair. Should have made one. Well, one year he asks the PR staff how he can be a Pro Bowler. They said talking to the media wouldn’t hurt. Free pub, more people hear about you so the reputation grows. I agree you’d think it’s what you do on the field, but it’s also about reputation.
So a player that never talks to the media is suddenly a jolly fellow. Joking around. Sorry, it felt weird. Like he was suckering you in closer to pound you or something. By today’s standards, Ed isn’t that big at 6-feet-5, 315 pounds, but back then he seemed gigantic.
And here’s the favorite story of my old Washington Times partner David Elfin loves to tell. During the 1994 training camp in Carlisle, Newport News reporter Warner Hessler (Ol’ Ricky 26 years ago) asked, "Ed. How come you haven't talked to us for a couple of years?"
Ed replied, "Because I've had some problems inside my head."
Elfin laughs every time he tells that story.
Well, Ed was great for a little while. So, we figured Ed would now be available to talk about other players. That’s what you do with talkative players. Ed was having none of that. If it wasn’t about him, he said go away.
Ed gets forgotten given the other four top left tackles over the last generation, but the Redskins wished they had someone of his caliber playing this fall. He has struggled with knee problems in retirement, but a Spokesman Review story shows he’s now doing well and even has 11 grandkids. That’s seven more than Ol’ Ricky.
Tomorrow: Ol’ Ricky remembers a fight at practice between two defensive players.Lots of stories in my book and these are the types of tales I’ll tell on my coming “Pizza and Pigskins Tours.”
Rick Snider is an award-winning sports writer who has covered Washington sports since 1978. He first wrote about the Redskins in 1983 before becoming a beat writer in 1993. Snider currently writes for several national and international publications and is a Washington tour guide. Follow Rick on Twitter at @Snide_Remarks.