Wednesday, September 4, 2002
Updated: September 9, 3:20 PM ET
Special to Page 2
When people talk about the Eagles, they talk about Donovan McNabb, and they should, because he's superstar great. But how many times do we have to tell you: Defense wins championships. Write that down: Defense wins championships.
The Eagles were achingly close last year. A sack here, a stop there, and they might have been the ones playing the Patriots in New Orleans. If the Philly faithful hope to be partying at Super Bowl XXXVII in San Diego come January, they had better provide aid and comfort to the D. And they had better give standout defensive tackle Corey Simon some serious love because his strength and quickness might make all the difference this year.
Page 2 has much love for the defense, and all kinds of respect for Simon. To prove it, we asked Eric Neel to fire 10 Burning Questions at Simon in the trenches. The big man was undaunted, sounding strong and hungry throughout ... until he talked about his grandmother, and then he sounded sweet and stand-up -- the kind of guy you want to root for.
1. Page 2: If you could boil it down to one word, what stood between you guys and the Super Bowl last year?
Corey Simon: Experience. I think the Rams had an advantage, having been in that position
before. They handled it a little better than we did. The other thing is, you need a couple of breaks. It's not always ... when it gets down to that point in the playoffs, every team is good and you need a couple of breaks to get by, and we didn't get them when we needed them.
2. Philly crowds are notorious for being rough -- what is the best putdown you have ever heard from the fans in Philly?
Simon: That's tough. You get new ones every week. They do most of their good talking against us. We're usually the ones getting the insults. I don't know ... I try to block it out.
3. This is your third season with the Eagles -- give me an estimate on how many Philly cheese steaks you've eaten in your time there so far.
Simon: I'd say about four. I'm not a big cheese steak guy. I get into the chicken cutlets and that stuff, but I try to stay away from the cheese steaks. I'm trying to stay on the D line -- you start eating too many of those things, and they're talking about moving you.
4. What is the No. 1 reason defensive linemen should get more love and respect from the fans than they do?
Simon: Because we do all the grunt work. The play begins and ends with us. The weight of the game is put upon who is up front. If we play well, you can pretty much guarantee we'll win the game. Everybody wants to see offense, but it's all done in the trenches.
If you could pick any three linemen who you would most want to play alongside, who would you pick?
Simon: Reggie White, Bryant Young and, um ... I guess it would have to be Bruce Smith.
Three guys you'll face this year who will really give you a workout?
Simon: Ron Stone in San Francisco. He always pushes me to the limit. We have a good
time when we're out there. I think the center in Chicago -- Olin Kreutz, he's always tough. Every week is tough. There's nothing easy about this position.
5. Have you ever felt afraid or intimidated on the field?
Simon: No. I remember my freshman year in high school and I had a defensive line coach and he told me that guy you're playing against, he puts his pants on the same way you do, his pants may be a little bigger than yours, but otherwise he's no different than you, he's still a man. I take that approach
every time I step out on the field -- he's just a man.
6. You played for Bobby Bowden at Florida State. What do you remember most about what he taught you?
Simon: It's not so much from an X and O standpoint with coach Bowden, it's the game of life stuff. His relationship with his family, with his kids, it's no coincidence that he's been so successful. He lives an upright and righteous lifestyle, and that's the one thing I took from him that I try to emulate.
What sets coach Andy Reid apart?
Simon: His intensity. When you have that in your coaching staff, it has a trickle-down effect. He gets us all fired up.
7. Tell me about something that you keep in your locker that would surprise people.
Simon: I keep a pretty clean, empty locker. I could tell you about a few guys on the team though, not mentioning any names, who have some stuff that whacked me out when I got here. There are some cartoon characters in a few guys' lockers. One guy has the Wolverine. One guy has these little Mexican men, about 10 of them, on his shelf, and he calls them his Little Homies. I'm not gonna mention any names, though.
8. If you could have one mulligan for your career -- something you could go back and do over -- what would it be?
Simon: I guess the last two minutes of that ball game against the Rams last year.
If your career ended tomorrow, what would you do with your life?
Simon: I'd go into the ministry. I'd be a pastor in somebody's church.
9. I hear you are an avid golfer, what are the strengths and weaknesses of your game?
Simon: My strength is that every now and again I hit it straight, and my weakness is all the other times.
Who is the best golfer you have played with in the League?
Simon: Koy Detmer. He can hit it around a little bit.
10. If you could invite any three people, living or dead, to dinner tonight at your house, who would you invite?
Simon: The apostle Paul, Jesus and my grandmother. This is a woman who worked her whole life until she died three weeks ago. I always enjoyed her company. She always had a story to tell. She was very inspiring for me. What I do today, and everything I put into what I do, I get it from her.