A two-time All-Pro and Pro Bowl selection during his time in Philadelphia (1986-93), Clyde Simmons recorded 720 tackles, 76.0 sacks, 12 forced fumbles, 10 fumble recoveries, and three defensive touchdowns in 124 career games with the Eagles. He ranks third on Philadelphia's all-time sacks list, trailing only Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Reggie White (124.0) and Trent Cole (85.5).
Over a five-year span from 1988-92, Simmons ranked second in the NFL with 63.0 sacks. In 1992, he led the league with a career-high 19.0 sacks, which are the second most in franchise history. Simmons also set the club's single-game sacks record (4.5), which he posted on September 15, 1991 at Dallas and has been tied once.
A native of Lane, South Carolina, Simmons was drafted by Philadelphia in the ninth round (233rd overall) of the 1986 NFL Draft after excelling in the collegiate ranks at Western Carolina.
Simmons is now teaching the tools of the trade that made him so successful in his role as the defensive line coach for the Cleveland Browns. He reflects on his career and what it means going into the Hall of Fame with his close friend, Seth Joyner.
How would you describe your relationship with Seth Joyner?
"We have a lot of history together not just the football side of it. You would say he's one of my closest friends, a brother to me, just as close as my own biological brother, so we spent a lot of time together. We don't see each other as much as we used to, but it seems like every time we see each other, things just click and it's back to normal. There's no uneasy moments or nothing like that."
Where did your work ethic come from?
"For me, it comes from my mother. She raised three kids, single parent, there's so many sacrifices that she made to make sure that we could go to school, that we had clothes on our backs, food on our table, so that's where my strength comes from. She was a waitress mostly but growing up she worked for different furniture companies. There's all kinds of things that she did but she was a waitress mostly."
What did football mean to you growing up?
"For me, it was a means to an end in the beginning. I knew coming out of high school that if I didn't get a scholarship for something like that, the military was where I was headed. So, it was a means to an end in the beginning, and then it changed once I came into college and realized I had a chance to play. When I went to school, I didn't have any ambition of playing professional football. I just wanted to go to college to get a chance to have a better life. But as I played on and people kept saying you have a chance, you have a chance, it made me start thinking about the work and stuff that you have to put in, and I started putting in the extra work."
What did it mean to have arguably the greatest defensive end in NFL history at the other defensive end spot?
"I'm the first to tell you that I'm greatly appreciative to have had a player like Reggie White on the other side. A lot of people say Reggie this, Reggie that. But because of all the attention that he got, he gave me the chance to grow as a player and learn the right things without being thrust into a tough position, so he gave me a chance to grow. I appreciate the man because he helped me to grow as a player. And then, later in life, people realize that I wasn't a bad player after all."
Why do you think you were overlooked?
"I guess because of my personality and all that. I really can't care less about what people think. That's just me. I'm not so much concerned with what the outsiders think. I just truly believe that, if you do the right thing, good things happen for you. And if I went out there and talked about me, me, me, me, me, me, me, I'm not that kind of person. I'm not that kind of selfish athlete then or even now. Of course, it wears on you, but you have to make sure you're comfortable with who you are because if you're not comfortable with who you are, then you'll explode. For me, I'm comfortable with who I am, with where I am. You always want things to be better or different but I'm happy with the life I'm living."
Who was your favorite quarterback to sack?
"I have a lot of respect for Joe Montana and Troy Aikman. Montana, we were beating the crap out of him one year and he just kept picking himself back up and picking himself back up and ended up coming back and beating us. Troy, I put a hit on his shoulder. There were a lot of people in Dallas that were trying to label me as a dirty player and he said, 'No, it's not that. It's just football. That's what happens sometimes.' I have a lot of respect for that man for making that statement. He didn't have to but he did it."
How tough is it that Jerome Brown and Reggie White are no longer with us?
"We were more than just teammates. We were friends, and when you're friends, you're close to becoming family. And I can tell as time grew with everything we did, we probably would've been just like brothers. There would've been arguing, fussing, fighting between each other just like we did in practice and games and stuff, but then there's also the moments where we are worried about each other's kids, and how they're doing, and what's going on in school. When you think about that, you miss the times and the conversations you had with them as individuals, and then you see their kids as adults now and you think about what they don't get to see. I think that's the most troubling thing for me that these two great guys don't get to see what their children have become."