Ernie Sims Made $18 Million in the NFL and Could Soon Be a Rich College Coach

Ernie Sims starred at Florida State and parlayed a strong stint there into a prosperous NFL career. Nearly seven years after his final NFL game, Sims has entered the college coaching ranks and is quietly a rising star.

While Sims has never been a coordinator or position coach yet, his coaching journey is one that his former fans should be keeping an eye on. Here’s what Ernie Sims is doing in his post-football life, and why he stands to become the next noteworthy NFL player-turned-college coach.

Ernie Sims was an excellent linebacker at Florida State

Even in the final years of the Bobby Bowden era, Florida State was churning out some of the country’s best defensive players. Ernie Sims was one such player. The Tallahassee native had 200 tackles in his time with the Seminoles and earned first-team All-America honors from ESPN in 2004. Sims was also named second-team All-ACC as a sophomore.

Ernie Sims had 72 tackles, 10 for loss, and 2.5 sacks as a junior in 2005. The 6-foot linebacker declared for the NFL draft and was selected by the Detroit Lions with the No. 9 overall pick. That made Sims the highest-selected Florida State defensive player in six years.

Sims cashed in during his NFL career

Former Florida State and Detroit Lions linebacker Ernie Sims cashed in during his NFL years. Sims is now a rising coach in the college ranks.
Former Florida State and Detroit Lions linebacker Ernie Sims cashed in during his NFL years. Sims is now a rising coach in the college ranks. | Doug Benc/Getty Images

Ernie Sims entered the NFL before rookie contracts were slotted and pre-arranged on where the player was drafted. Detroit signed Sims, who was only 21, to a five-year, $15.74 million contract with $12.1 million guaranteed. Sims immediately joined the Lions’ starting lineup and was one of the team’s few defensive bright spots in a tough stretch.

Sims had 113 tackles and a sack for the winless Lions in 2008. After a new regime arrived following that season, Sims played only one more year in Detroit before he was traded to Philadelphia.

Sims had 55 tackles, two sacks and a career-high five pass breakups for the NFC East champions. Sims also had two tackles in his first and only career playoff game that year.

Ernie Sims played for the Indianapolis Colts in 2011 and spent the last two years of his career in Dallas. The Cowboys came within one game of winning the NFC East both years he was there.

Ernie Sims’ playing career ended in 2014 with 623 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 26 tackles for loss, and an interception to his name. Spotrac estimated Sims made nearly $19 million in his career.

Ernie Sims is now climbing the college football coaching ladder

After his NFL career ended in 2014, Ernie Sims returned to Florida State to complete his degree. Sims earned his bachelor’s degree in social science in the spring of 2018. With his playing days behind him, Sims joined Lane Kiffin’s Florida Atlantic Owls as an assistant strength and conditioning intern later that year.

Although Ernie Sims never played for Lane Kiffin, he was familiar with Lane’s father, Monte. Monte Kiffin was the Dallas Cowboys’ defensive coordinator in 2013. Sims had 42 tackles and a forced fumble that year.

Multiple FAU players publicly praised Sims in 2018 for helping them recover from injuries. One such player, linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair, spent last season with the San Francisco 49ers. FAU promoted Sims to director of player development in January 2019.

Ernie Sims officially began the next step of his coaching career this spring. Sims followed former FAU defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer to the University of South Florida as a quality control analyst.

If, or when, college football returns later this year, Sims will have an opportunity to continue climbing the college football ranks.