Giants Super Bowl MVP Simms works with local standout
When Danny Kesack returned to the Wesley College football team in Delaware last week, the Lyndhurst native had a little bit of an advantage over the other quarterbacks in the Wesley camp – namely Kesack’s personal tutor.
For two nights a week for the past two months, Kesack traveled to northern Bergen County to get lessons from one of the all-time greats, namely New York Giants Super Bowl Most Valuable Player and current CBS top football analyst Phil Simms.
Kesack was introduced to Simms a few years ago when Kesack was still playing at Lyndhurst High School. At the time, Simms invited Kesack to come and work out together – and the two have continued the training sessions ever since.
“Our relationship is closer now that I’m older,” said Kesack, who will begin his sophomore year at Wesley this fall. “I’ve known him for so long. He’s not just my coach, but my friend. He tells me how I’m throwing and how my footwork is going, the whole process of being a quarterback. We also stay in touch about three times a week.”
Kesack goes to a field near Simms’ home in Wycoff with his own personal receivers, namely Wesley teammate Andrew Monaghan of Wayne Hills and former St. Peter’s Prep and current Seton Hall University baseball pitcher Anthony Porcillo, one of the top hurlers in the Big East Conference last spring.
“Anthony has been my best friend since second grade,” Kesack said. “He just finished up pitching in the Cape Cod League and he came with me to catch some passes.”
In fact, just recently after a workout, Simms took off his polo shirt and gave it to Porcillo.
“We get into the three-step and five-step drops,” Kesack said. “We work on the short game. I feel like I’ve gotten about 10 times better this year. We’re working on things that Aaron Rodgers does, Tom Brady, Drew Brees. Of course, I’m not like them. He does a lot of teaching. It’s really a lot of fun. As we go on, it gets better. He’s teaching for the whole two hours.”
Current Lyndhurst head football coach Rich Tuero also goes for the experience of the Simms-Kesack tutorials.
“I went up originally with Danny when he was in high school,” Tuero said. “And it was just incredible.”
For Tuero, it was like a dream come true, because he’s a lifelong Giants fan.
“When I first met him, it really was incredible,” Tuero said. “Now we’re all learning from Phil. I’m getting things that I can bring back to my team. He talks out loud and makes you get involved. He makes me run drills. It’s just like I’m getting a free quarterback clinic. It’s really awesome. He tells great stories about what he did when he was playing.
Added Tuero, “I was first in awe and now I actually text the guy regularly. And he answers me. I told him that I hope to bring my quarterback from Lyndhurst in the future and he said sure. It’s priceless the way he takes care of the kids. It’s really an honor for me to be there. I feel so privileged. It’s an experience like nothing else. He’s telling stories of his playing days and it’s all pretty cool. I get a text from him and my wife looks down at the phone and she says, ‘Oh, look, it’s Phil Simms.’ ”
Both Kesack and Tuero agree on one thing – that Simms is a down-to-earth nice guy.
“He’s just so real,” Tuero said.
One recent workout, Simms and his two quarterback sons, namely Chris (now retired and working for the CBS Sports Network) and Matt (now with the Buffalo Bills) were all together.
“It was surreal having all three there together,” Tuero said.
Kesack was never fortunate enough to see Simms play.
“But I did my research,” Kesack said. “I know who he is. He’s a busy guy, but he always finds the time to work with me. He can’t throw right now, because he just had back surgery, but I can’t say enough about what he means to me. He’s my idol. I hope to be like him one day. I don’t look at him as being the all-time great Giant. He’s just an athletic guy who loves football and loves teaching. For those two hours, it’s all work. But I’m really lucky to have this opportunity.”
Kesack will head to Wesley this week ready for the upcoming season. He will be No. 2 on the depth chart behind threeyear starter Joe Callahan, who threw for an astounding 4,190 yards and 46 touchdowns last year.
“I’m a backup, but I hope to get some time this year,” Kesack said. “Then we’ll see what will happen my junior and senior year. Hopefully, I’ll be the guy. I’m just comfortable and confident now.”
Kesack has been hard at work training at the Varsity House Gym in Old Tappan.
“I’ve been working out and throwing,” Kesack said. And throwing with a local legend.
“At first, I was really shy around him, but now, we have a great relationship,” Kesack said. “I don’t look at him as being the Giants’ Super Bowl MVP anymore. He’s just Phil. I’m glad he has taken such an interest in me. I’m very lucky for that. I love every second of every minute. Whenever I’m there, I’m in it 100% and there to get better.”
How much has Kesack become comfortable with Simms?
“Well, I’ll crack a joke and he’ll say, ‘That’s a good one, Danny,’” Kesack said. “I can’t put this into words. It’s a great experience.”
Except for one glaring problem.
“Well, I’m a Jets fan,” Kesack said. “But I do root for the Giants.”
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Jim Hague | Observer Sports Writer
Sports Writer Jim Hague was with The Observer for 20+ years — and his name is one of the most recognizable in all of sports journalism. The St. Peter’s Prep and Marquette alum kicked off his journalism career post Marquette at the Daily Record, where he remained until 1985. Following shorts stints at two other newspapers, in September 1986, he joined the now-closed Hudson Dispatch, where he remained until 1991, when its doors were finally shut.
It was during his tenure at The Dispatch that Hague’s name and reputation as one of country’s hardest-working sports reporters grew. He won several New Jersey Press Association and North Jersey Press Club Awards in that timeframe.
In 1991, he became a columnist for The Hudson Reporter chain of newspapers — and he remains with them to this day.
In addition to his work at The Observer and The Hudson Reporter, Hague is also an Associated Press stringer, where he covers Seton Hall University men’s basketball, New York Red Bulls soccer and occasionally, New Jersey Devils hockey.
He’s also doing work at The Morristown Daily Record, the very newspaper where his journalism career began.
During his career, he also worked for Dorf Feature Services, which provided material for the Star-Ledger. While there, he covered the New York Knicks and the New Jersey Nets.
Hague is also known for his announcing work — and he’s done PA work for Rutgers Newark and NJIT.
Hague is the author of the book “Braddock: The Rise of the Cinderella Man.”