- The Washington Times - Monday, August 14, 2000

Keith Sims never grows bored with his vast movie collection, which includes some 1,200 laser discs, between 200 and 300 DVDs, two laser disc players, five DVD players, one portable DVD player and one DVD player on his computer.

That's not to say Sims doesn't run out of new things to watch. But whenever he exhausts the new titles in his horde …

"Then you go back and watch the old stuff," Sims said happily. "There's some classic movies. You can always pop in an 'Alien,' a 'Negotiator,' a 'Usual Supsects.' You can always find a movie you've seen that you can go back and entertain yourself. A 'Star Wars.' You can never get enough 'Star Wars.' "

Similarly, the Washington Redskins hit rewind last season and enjoyed some classic play by Sims, their starting left guard and biggest movie buff. Now 33, Sims resurrected his career in Washington after he made three straight Pro Bowls (1993-95) with Miami before he was released by the Dolphins in 1997 and then Philadelphia in 1998.

Offensive line coach Russ Grimm jokingly calls the 11-year veteran "Grampa." Sims, in fact, is the club's only offensive line starter older than 29, and he's just six months younger than the oldest reserve, tackle Andy Heck. But Sims still stands out on a unit that features young stars in rookie left tackle Chris Samuels and second-year right tackle Jon Jansen.

"Keith had a lot of good years," Grimm said. "Then things didn't work out, and he bounced a little bit. He came here and we've seen a little bit of the old Keith Sims."

Of course, it hasn't been quite that simple. Sims had to adjust to accomplish his mid-career revival. He compensated for lost speed and agility by refining his techniques and angles of attack, and overcame years of pounding by spending extra time in the tub and on the massage table.

But it worked.

"I was given a second opportunity, and not everybody is given a second opportunity," Sims said. "There was a lot going on [in Miami]. I was injured my last two years; we had a new coach, Jimmy Johnson, who wanted to prove toughness on people; and part of it was my fault. I kind of took it for granted. I had been to three Pro Bowls. I thought I knew all the answers."

Now Sims' role has expanded to involve helping Samuels, who last year became the University of Alabama's first Outland Trophy winner. "Just about every play," Sims said, the 23-year-old Samuels gets some instruction from the former Pro Bowler to his right.

"He's been in the league a long time," Samuels said. "His body is getting old, so he has to be smarter. He knows every trick."

But the tricks, Sims believes, really aren't that tricky. They're just products of seeing the same defensive formations and stunts for 10 straight years and realizing that a 6-foot-3, 318-pound, 33-year-old guard isn't going to catch a 230-pound, 25-year-old linebacker like Shawn Barber.

"When you're younger, you just go [play]," Sims said. "You don't think about it. But now I'm sitting in my stance, 'OK, I've got to catch Shawn Barber, LaVar Arrington, I better make sure I calculate my angle right.' "

Sims' tutelage seems to be working for Samuels.

"When you're Chris, and you're worried about 'Who am I blocking?' and the snap count, you don't see [defensive strategies]," Sims said. "[But] he's getting better at [reading them]. He's called a couple things this week. He's said, 'Hey, a stunt's coming,' and it came."

Samuels also has learned to predict where Sims spends his down time. Samuels recently went to see "Hollow Man" and wouldn't you know it Sims was in the back of the theater by himself.

To say Sims loves movies wouldn't do justice to the spare time and money he spends on his hobby. His permanent home in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., boasts a 75-inch projection screen, on which he plays all genres of movies ("except Westerns") on his laser disc and DVD players.

"No video tapes just [my] kids' tapes," Sims said proudly. "It's just something I enjoy doing. My wife [Cammy], she's like, 'I don't know how you go to a movie by yourself.' But I enjoy it. It's my escape."

The Internet has fueled Sims' passion. It's allowed him to pre-order DVDs and have them delivered the moment they're released. He refuses to estimate how much he spends annually on movies ("my wife might read this"), but he did admit that his last Internet purchase totaled $600.

"Some of them don't come out until October," Sims said. "But by pre-ordering them, you save 30 percent, and they'll be on my doorstep when the movie comes out."

Right now, though, Sims is focused on a return to the Pro Bowl even though he's surrounded by one current Pro Bowler (right guard Tre Johnson), a veteran with a good argument (center Cory Raymer) and two youngsters (Samuels and Jansen) who, many believe, should go ahead and invest in a condo on the Big Island.

In contrast, many observers seem to view Sims as little more than a stopgap until Michael Moore, the impressive fourth-round draft pick, is ready to start.

Sims has seen the reports, some in this newspaper, which read along the lines, "Moore could be ready to start if Sims breaks down," and "free-agent pickup Jay Leeuwenburg gives the Redskins insurance in case Sims breaks down."

Sims' reaction?

"Keith doesn't think he's going to break down," Sims said with a laugh. "I feel great. Training camp has been fantastic. I'm excited, and my goal is to start all 16 games… . I feel the best I've felt in years probably even better than I felt last year."

Sims missed four games last season with a sprained knee, but he played well enough the Redskins rewarded him with a three-year, $4 million contract. It's a pact Sims hopes to complete if not extend.

"I'm excited about this year," Sims said. "You can't be on this [team] and not be excited about it. And hey, if we do some great things this year, I want to come back for a couple more chances."

Did somebody say sequel?

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