Behind-the-Scenes with CBS's #1 Pro Football Announcer

People often want to know how Phil Simms gets ready for game day.
 
“I always have a lot of fun with them and tell them I watch a lot of football—that’s how I prepare,” Simms jokes.
 
But Simms’ watching football is not exactly like a fan’s sitting on a sofa eyes glued to the pigskin. Sometimes the key to good commentary is to keep your eyes off the ball: Watch what the left tackle is doing consistently, both when he makes his block and when he gets beat. Did the receiver run a strong route when he knows he’s not getting the ball? Is the quarterback’s footwork right when he drops back? It can mean watching the same play multiple times.
 
“When I get home from a Sunday game, on Monday, when I get up, I might eat and exercise, but I go right to work on the next game immediately,” he says. “Watching games from the teams I’m going to do, making notes on the players, the schemes, what the coaches are doing—and that continues throughout the week until I travel.”
 
The travel means being around a lot of people in a lot of places during the colder months. And when the most important tool you have is your voice, you have to stay healthy.
 
“I drink more tea during football season,” Simms stresses. “Because during the season, I’m worried about getting sick more; I’m worried about my voice. I always keep Bigelow tea in my briefcase wherever I go.” Simms usually leaves on a Thursday or, if the game is closer by, on Friday morning. The broadcast crew heads to the home team’s facility and spends time watching practice and talking with players and coaches.
 
“We get a great feel for how guys look,” Simms points out. “Saturday, we spend most of the day with the visiting team and we do the same thing. The players do so much studying, they can give you a good sense of how the game is going to go.”
 
On Saturday night, there’s a big meeting with the crew that usually lasts up to three hours. They talk about how they will start the broadcast, what strategies are important to key in on, which athletes to highlight, and what might ultimately be the outcome.
 
“Usually, I tell everybody what I think is going to happen,” Simms says. “So and so over there is going to be a really key part to this game.  So then the cameramen and the people in the truck are focused and waiting for something to happen involving the players I’ve pointed out.”
 
Game day is almost like being a player. Creating routines is still the key, but nowadays what needs to be limber and agile are the mind and the voice. Simms gets to the stadium and chats with everyone from team officials to security guards to his crewmates. He’ll walk on the field, partially to test it, but also to understand why this all matters.
 
“Just seeing the size of the stadium, how big the event is,” he says. “It reminds you how special it is to be a part of.”
 
In the booth, he sets up his notes and makes sure the monitors are ready.
 
“I always put a note on the top of one of my monitors that says, ‘Tell the story.’”
 
Bigelow tea travels along with Simms during each plot twist and he’ll drink up to four cups during a game. It’s an essential part of what works.
 
“Once I started drinking Bigelow tea and knew what it could do for me, it became part of the routine of my life.”