By Greg Arias
Like it or not, Jeffrey Simmons is a Tennessee Titan.
Reaction to his selection was swift and divided as quickly as NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell uttered his name as the 19th overall pick Thursday night in the NFL Draft here in Nashville. People immediately jumped to condemn both Simmons and the Titans.
For those who may not have heard or seen the disgusting video shown by ESPN immediately after his selection, Simmons, who was one of the top high school football players in the country at the time, was involved in a fight in 2016 where he hit a female.
Let’s be clear, there is no excuse for what he did, though I for one can certainly understand that defending one’s family _ his sister in this case _ could cause one to do things they otherwise might not have done. That seems to be the case here, though many people either didn’t know, or didn’t take the time to find out more about the situation than what the short video showed.
Since the selection I’ve seen comments on social media comparing Simmons to Pacman Jones, he of Titans and police blotter fame. I’ve seen him called other manner of vile and disturbing names.
Once again what he did was wrong, and I can’t stress that enough, but what about what he has done since that time?
Since the incident in question Simmons has taken the second chance afforded to him by Mississippi State University and made the most of it.
By all accounts, Simmons has worked his tail off both in the classroom and on the field. He has been a leader for the Bulldogs, helped other students at the university and become involved in community service projects in his community.
None of that changes what he did, but then who among us is perfect?
But for the grace of God, and a lack of superior athletic talent, some of the things I did as a youth- none involving striking a woman- might have come back to haunt me in adulthood. I’ll go further and bet that if those reading this are honest, there are things in your past that you would not want the world to know. Yet here we are, with Jeffrey Simmons judging him and proclaiming him a terrible human being.
Simmons himself addressed the issue during a conference call with Nashville media after his selection.
“The day of the incident, my sister and the other lady were…going back and forth…(inaudible). My little sister, she lost three kids. In that incident, the lady was just like, ‘(Expletive) you and your dead kids’ to my sister. At that time, my sister was just like, ‘I’ve had enough of it,’ this and that. That’s when they got to fight, and like I said, my first reaction was actually breaking up the fight and she ended up saying it again. Like I said, I just let my emotions take over. I wasn’t even thinking about the consequences” said Simmons. “Like I said, I ended up striking her while she was on the ground, which the video shows that. That’s pretty much how the fight was. The day of the incident I was so in shock that I didn’t even – I was still in shock like, ‘Did I really just do this?’ Even the police didn’t even know I was involved, I didn’t get arrested. The only people who knew were the people out there and because there was a video of the fight. The video came out and it blew up.
“The other lady and my sister started fighting. I was in the house. My girl at the time went upstairs and got me like, ‘They’re fighting,’ continued Simmons. “When I went outside, I started breaking up the fight. The lady said it again, she’s like, ‘(Explicative) you and your dead kids.’ That’s when I reacted while they were fighting as well.”
Again, that’s no excuse, but it is Simmons standing up and answering the very first questions he was asked by local media.
The rest of what Simmons said is somehow overlooked though.
“I apologized to the lady. Being in the community, that’s who I am. I’ve been in the community before the incident even happened, I was in the community when I was in high school. Things I have done, you know, I’ve been to the children’s hospital…(inaudible). Try to show people who I really am…(inaudible). In Tennessee, that’s my goal, to get out in the community and just show people who I really am, show people they can trust me.”
It’s fair to be skeptical and have a wait-and-see attitude towards Simmons. What’s not fair is condemning him for life for this incident.
This isn’t a second chance with the Titans, Simmons was given that by Mississippi State. This is his chance to continue what he stated in Starkville and by proving himself to be the person he wasn’t in that video.
Who among us wouldn’t want that opportunity?
Who among us should actively seek to deny another human soul the chance at redemption?
The Tennessee Titans are giving Jeffrey Simmons that chance.