Simms has surgery for spleen rupture

The Bucs quarterback, out at least six weeks, took hits in a 26-24 loss to Carolina.

Published September 25, 2006

TAMPA - As he jogged from the locker room to finish the game, Chris Simms did not know his season may already have ended.

Bleeding internally, Simms finished Sunday's 26-24 loss to the Carolina Panthers in which he threw for one touchdown and ran for another.

Simms, 26, was rushed to St. Joseph's Hospital by ambulance after the game and had emergency surgery to remove his spleen.

He received several blood transfusions and was listed in stable condition Sunday night, according to the team. Simms is expected to remain in the hospital for several days.

"He lost a lot of blood and needed a transfusion," Simms' mother, Diana Simms, told the St. Petersburg Times when reached by telephone Sunday night. "I think his condition (was) critical."

The first indication that Simms was hurting came late in the first quarter after he was hit by defensive lineman Kris Jenkins. Simms bent over at the waist after an incompletion but stepped into the huddle several seconds later.

Near the end of the third quarter, Simms dropped to one knee on the field and was attended by Bucs trainers and physicians. He was taken to the locker room for what the team announced was cramps and dehydration and given intravenous fluids.

He missed just two offensive plays before jogging back and playing the next series.

Simms completed four straight passes and led the Bucs to a go-ahead field goal. On his final passing attempt of the drive, Simms was body-slammed by defensive lineman Al Wallace.

He attempted just one more pass the rest of the game.

Backup quarterback Bruce Gradkowski said coach Jon Gruden and quarterbacks coach Paul Hackett knew Simms was injured and might not be able to finish the game. Gruden said after the game he believed Simms had hurt his ribs.

"He played tough and he showed a lot of grit," Gruden said.

Simms likely will be unable to play for at least six weeks, said Dr. Emmanuel Zervos, associate professor of surgery at the University of South Florida College of Medicine.

"If this were a high school football player, I would not clear him to go back for the season," said Zervos who is not treating Simms.

He would expect Simms to be hospitalized for close to a week.

"If he were my patient, I wouldn't clear him to play football for at least six weeks, and I would have to look at him to make sure he was completely well healed, that there was no risk of hernia and that his blood count was completely back to normal," Zervos said.

Bucs players said they knew Simms was struggling.

"Obviously, you could tell something was wrong because he was kneeling after most of the plays in the fourth quarter," linebacker Derrick Brooks said. "But he's a tough player, a tough kid."

Clayton said he sensed something was seriously wrong because Simms appeared disoriented in the huddle and complained of pain.

"I knew something was wrong because he wasn't himself during the game," Clayton said. "I was real shocked when I heard about it. I mean, real, real shocked. Chris is a fighter, so you never know what's really up with him. You wouldn't think a guy would be hurt that bad and keep playing.

"He was stuttering in the huddle, calling the plays. We were all like, 'Man, are you okay?' I don't know where we go from here, but we'll find out soon."

Simms completed 13-of-24 passes for 139 yards with one touchdown. Simms also ran for a touchdown, taking a big hit from linebacker Adam Seward near the goal line and flipping into the end zone.

Several Bucs - linebacker Ryan Nece, safety Jermaine Phillips, tight end Alex Smith - went to the hospital in an attempt to find out more about Simms' condition. None was able to see Simms, who was moved to a private room Sunday night.

Giants Super Bowl quarterback Phil Simms flew to Tampa Sunday night from Pittsburgh to be with his son after calling the Steelers-Bengals game for CBS.

The loss of Simms means the Bucs will likely turn to Gradkowski, a sixth-round draft pick in April who completed one pass Sunday for 16 yards.

"I definitely knew the whole game that Chris wasn't right," Gradkowski said. "He took a shot early and I just kind of had to be ready throughout the whole game. He did a great job coming back, but when he went down, I just tried to get in there and do what I could."