The following are excerpts from the Dave Sims interview that can be seen here in its entirety on The Biz of Football
UPDATE: It was announced Tuesday that Sims will lead the broadcast team for the first season of the United Football League, along with Doug Flutie as color analyst, with Kordell Stewart and Anita Marks as sideline reporters.
“This is what I do.” – Dave Sims
Dave Sims answers the phone on a rare off day for the veteran play-by-play man, which is only really half true. Having called the first Sunday night NFL game of the 2009 season from Lambeau Field between the Bears and Packers, he has traveled back Monday afternoon to his home away from home, an apartment in Seattle (his residency with his wife is in New York). Sims, who not only calls games nationally for Westwood One for the NFL, but also for the Seattle Mariners, is a man constantly on the move as MLB season winds down, and the NFL season kicks off. "Travel day" to Sims is an "off day."
But then it seems Sims has always been on the move when it comes to covering sports. With an off day, what is Sims doing? Kicking back having dinner while watching the Patriots and the Bills play on Monday Night Football. As the interview winds its way through, with both interviewer and interviewee watching the game while talking about sports, you truly get the sense that while Sims sees broadcasting as work, it is something that is a burning passion for the man; he loves what he does.
Sims, currently one of only four African American MLB broadcasters, grew up in Philadelphia, and eventually attended Bethany College in West Virginia. He played baseball as a catcher, while majoring in mass communications. As discussed in the following interview, Sims also has a background as a sportswriter including time with the Philadelphia Inquirer and New York Daily News, something he still leans on.
Starting in the ‘80s, Sims earned his stripes by doing WNBC's "SportsNight", a five-hour sports talk show well before sports talk was a staple of programming dial.
In the ‘90s, he went on to co-host the midday show with Ed Coleman on New York's Sports Radio 66 WFAN, followed by the weekend sports anchor spot at WCBS-TV in New York.
In 1991, Sims joined ESPN as a play-by-play announcer for college basketball, and added college football in 1998. He primarily called Big East contests on the ESPN Plus regional network. His most notable call being the George Mason-UConn regional final in 2006 where #11 seed George Mason upset top-seed Connecticut to become the second #11 seed in history to reach the Final Four.
He has since done stints with ESPN (MLB play-by-play), and internet radio (MLB.com).
The following interview delves into prepping for the NFL season; Jay Cutler’s Week One wipeout, missing out on Ichiro’s 200th hit, a milestone he has now done nine times – a record; whether watching NFL games on a rare off night is work or play; his interest in left-leaning politics; how his diverse background in different sports lends itself to being influenced by the likes of Bill Campbell and Curt Gowdy; what do broadcasters do to kill time in a rain delay; how his print background serves him well in the broadcasting sphere, what sport he would choose if he could only cover one, and; much, much more.
Select Read More to see baseball related content from the complete interview with Dave Sims
Maury Brown for the Business of Sports Network: As of this interview you have just called your first game of the 2009 NFL season for Westwood One last night – the Bears/Packers game. When did you start prepping for the first game of the NFL season, and what’s the process like?
Dave Sims: We (the Mariners) started the road trip in Oakland, and the final (NFL) rosters were in by the 6th, so on the 7th I went online and started looking up stuff and reading up on everything. I started laying down my boards probably on Tuesday when we got to Anaheim and I was done probably Wednesday morning in Anaheim. Because it was the first game I didn’t have any tape to look at, but this week I’ll have Giants/Cowboys, so I’ll get a disc on the Giants and a disc on the Cowboys probably on Wednesday after I come home from the Mariners game, then Thursday morning and Friday morning bang out the boards and be ready to rock and roll.
Bizball: We’re also still in the midst of the baseball season, so that means you’re doing your play-by-play for Mariners on top of the Westwood One games for the NFL. You wound up missing a bit of history last night doing the call for the Bears/Packers game. When did you get word on Ichiro getting his 200th hit?
Sims: Probably during a timeout. I pulled out my iPhone and checked on Twitter and some of the people that follow me and some of the people that follow the team I follow them, and I guess about ten o'clock I got word. The other thing I was concerned about, I knew they were playing a deuce (doubleheader) yesterday I was hoping it wouldn’t go on forever and it seemed like it did. I was bummed out for everybody on that regard. But, I’m happy for Ichiro. That’s an unbelievable accomplishment.
Bizball: Do you ever get tired of watching sports?
Sims: Yeah, it happens. More often than not when I come home after a game I go to the opposite end of the spectrum and pop on MSNBC. I’m a liberal democrat. I watch (Keith) Olbermann, who I know a little bit, I don’t know Rachel Maddow but I really enjoy her work. I usually watch that for an hour and a half or two hours and I love that show. If I’m not falling asleep I’ll watch them, so I may watch three hours of politics; that happens more often than not.
Bizball: Have you hooked up with Olbermann and talked baseball and politics?
Sims: Yeah, we ran into each other at the stadium when we were in New York, it was great. Shannon (Drayer) had a picture of it and Jeff Baker had a took one with us chatting in the visitor’s dugout. I like the guy and politically we’re on the same page, so I was basically telling him, “Hey man, just keep doing what you’re doing.”
Bizball: A lot of broadcasters wind up with one sport and stick to it. Your path is about as diverse as it gets. Was there a conscious decision to delve into baseball, football, and basketball to expand the resume?
Sims: It’s just the way it worked out. I always wanted to do some baseball, particularly after I got a shot with ESPN in ‘93 and ‘94 and then again in 2004 and I knew I could do it if the opportunity (with the Mariners) jumped up. Meanwhile I built up all this equity in football – the NFL, college football – Big East and basketball. It’s just the way it played out; there’s no playbook, life just happens and you rock and roll from there.
Bizball: You grew up just down the street from Connie Mack Stadium where the Philles played for so many years, so I imagine the sounds of the game must have filled the house. How much did radio guys like Bill Campbell influence you, and who are others that you looked up to as you got going in your career?
Sims: Growing up in Philly, Bill Campbell was huge because he did the Eagles… and as a matter of fact I still get chills when I hear his call of the ‘60 Eagles championship when they beat Green Bay. It’s funny, the other day I was sitting with Jerry Kramer and he was saying, “I’m still pissed at Bednarik for sitting on Taylor and not letting him up” because the clock was running out from seven or eight seconds. I still get chills from listening to that, and Bill went on to do the Phillies, and then he did the 76ers. So he’s one of my all-time favorites from growing up in Philly. Then the usual roster of guys, the national guys who I always liked; Curt Gowdy was always great. Jim Simpson. I loved Chris Schenkel. Jack Whitaker, who started out in Philly and went on to CBS to do golf and football, loved him. Charlie Jones; I got a chance to work with in ‘88 at the Olympics and in ‘90 at the Goodwill Games, so that’s a thrill and a half. To have met (Vin) Scully and work with (Dave) Niehaus and guys like that... It’s been great, but those were the guys who have been the biggest influence. When you think about national TV, Gowdy was doing everything; he was doing all of baseball, he was doing all of football, and then he went into the NCAA tournament. Here’s a guy who you could say I traveled a similar type of road, certainly not on as high of level, but all three sports and be able to get after it every week, it’s a lot of fun.
Bizball: Rain delays have been a part of baseball since it began. The Mariners just dealt with this in Texas… What do you and guys like Blowers, Rizzs, and Niehaus do to entertain yourself when you’re not on the air during one?
Sims: Friday we got rained out, that’s why I bring my laptop. It’s like you’re a fireman, nine out of ten times you won’t need it, but that one time you can catch up on things, read up on what’s happening elsewhere, catch up on your email, Facebook, Twitter, and for me, Major League Baseball and the NFL. So I get a chance to check out all that stuff on sports pages, I read your stuff (The Biz of Football, The Biz of Baseball, etc). I research that stuff and I just keep up, it keeps you from going crazy. You have so much down time. On radio we do a hit every half hour maybe to update everybody on what’s going on. A couple times I went into the dining room, they have TV’s in there in Texas, so hopefully is on and you can watch that. Just try to keep busy and try not to fall asleep.
Read the complete interview with Dave Sims on The Biz of Football
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