NEW ORLEANS - CBS colour commentator Phil Simms has been under pressure to improvise many times in his career. The former New York Giants quarterback and Super Bowl XXI MVP found himself in a similar situation this Sunday.
In the third quarter of Super Bowl XLVII, the Superdome experienced a power outage. The flustered Simms went to work, informing the television audience of what needed to be done.
"Jim (Nantz), it's okay. All they need to do is find the light switch. If they find the light switch, they can go to the light switch, and put their hands to the light switch, and flip the light switch."
A befuddled Nantz let Simms go on; hoping for a rationale of what he was trying to say. Simms is known for his country obviousness, but would go to a new level on Sunday.
"Nobody needs to panic. You just need to find the light switch. Make sure your hands are dry, of course. You don't want to be stuck in a position where you might get shocked because you have wet hands. Dry those hands off, find the light switch, and then flick the switch to the desired state. Now, you could be stuck in an odd situation where there are many different light switches. If this is the case, keep flicking all of them until you get the right light switch. There's no need to panic. It's just a light switch malfunction."
Before searching the booth for a power switch, Simms used the occassion to talk about other obvious safety tips.
"This is why you carry a flashlight on you at all times. You never know what's going to happen. I spent all of Super Bowl XXI with a flashlight on me. Sure, when Karl Mecklenburg sat on my face...it hurt. But, if the lights went out, I'd be ready. I'd be the one guy with a flashlight. I was good using the flashlight. If you don't know how to use a flashlight, well, they usually have a button or a push tab. Either push the tab upwards or hit the button and light will come through. Make sure your batteries are working. Now, where the hell is this light switch."
The Morehead State graduate spent the entire delay using any powered device to see if it could turn the lights back on at the Superdome. This included turning Jim Nantz's phone off and on, rebooting his telestrator, and punching his laptop repeatedly.
"I know it has to be somewhere. Think, Simms! Think!"
After turning off the mini fridge in the booth, the lights slowly came back on...and Simms credited himself.
"You have to believe that was the difference. Conserving energy. This is a ham sandwich. I'm gonna eat it. I'm really hungry. Jim, are you hungry?"
Staring into the distance, with his eyes closed, Nantz pretended Simms wasn't there. In his mind, he was already at Augusta, and Simms would be nowhere near him.
As Simms ate his sandwich, he stared into the distance, too. Only he was a cowboy in a western; shooting wildly in the air.
The blackout would finally end.