Simmons deal official

8-12-02, 3:30 p.m. Updated:
8-13-02, 3:45 p.m.

BY GEOFF HOBSON

GEORGETOWN, Ky. _ Bengals middle linebacker Brian Simmons has agreed to sign what may be the biggest deal ever given a Bengals' defensive player.

And it was agreed to officially Tuesday with Simmons expected to sign his six-year extension after practice. Neither side would discuss or confirm numbers, but it's believed to average between $3.5-$4 million per year with nearly $6 million in the first year.

But part of the Simmons' M.O., whether it is helping lead a defense or mediating a mega contract, is his impassive approach to it all.

Ask him if he's happy and, well, yeah, but there is no champagne. Only a bottle of empty Gatorade he twirls around his finger as he walks back to his dorm here at Georgetown College.

"Yeah, I'm happy, but I'm more concerned about how I'm going to play Saturday," Simmons said after lunch Monday. "At this point, it's been something that's been going on for awhile. It was either going to happen or it wasn't going to happen. Now it's happened, let's go back to playing football."

It may be just the second pre-season game, but for Brian Eugene Simmons, it is still a football game. A champagne player with Powerade taste.

"That's Brian Simmons for you," said agent Jerrold Colton.

Simmons said it will take a few days for the papers to pass from here to Colton's New Jersey office, but he feels it is essentially done and he's relieved

the talks won't spill over into the regular season.

"If it was going to get done ," Simmons said. "I'm glad it's going to be done now."

Simmons says the deal keeps him in Cincinnati through 2008, which means six more seasons after this one. He'll be 33 and finishing his 11th year in the NFL, but he says that won't take him into retirement.

"Hopefully not," Simmons said. "Definitely close to it. You know how those things work. I still might not finish my career out here. We'll see how it goes."

Simmons' fellow linebacker and fellow first-rounder from 1998, Takeo Spikes, is also scheduled to become a free-agent after this season. The Bengals clearly want to keep him also, but with the Simmons' deal crunching the salary cap for '02, the Bengals will have to do something later with Spikes to push most of the money into '03.

But Simmons also knows he faced different circumstances than his friend, who is single.

"We'll talk about it," Simmons said. "We're in the same situation, but it's kind of different. In my negotiations, I couldn't just go in there thinking about me. I had to think about a little six-year-old girl and a wife. That was a big factor in the way I went about looking at it."

Simmons, wife Rachel, and daughter Brianna moved from Durham, N.C., to Cincinnati this past offseason for the first time so Brianna could get settled in school.

"I know the system. I know the ins and outs of the town. I've been here. I'm comfortable with it," he said.

But he'll be more comfortable Saturday.

That when there is a game.

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