Before the Titans took the risk of drafting a guy with a torn ACL in the first round, they had to make sure their owner was comfortable with taking a risk on a guy with a violent incident in his past.
And after doing her own research, Titans owner Amy Adams Strunk said that new defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons “deserved that second chance.”
Before he enrolled at Mississippi State, Simmons was involved in a fight that included his sister, his mother, and another woman. Video of the 2016 situation showed Simmons striking the woman multiple times. That video, as much as the torn ACL while getting ready for the draft (which could cause him to miss his rookie season), gave people pause.
Strunk said that she didn’t speak to Simmons before the draft, but relied on the research of General Manager Jon Robinson and coach Mike Vrabel.
“Jon and Mike came to me months ago, and we discussed since then,” Strunk said, via Erik Bacharach, of the Nashville Tennessean. “We watched the video together, and it begins with trust from Mike and Jon that I was able to get comfortable. They were both very respectful that I needed to be comfortable, because at the end of the day, I have the final decision.
“So it was a process. It did not take me long to see that this young man had an incident when he was in high school. We all can look back on our lives in high school and wish we’d done things differently. You can talk, ‘I’m sorry,’ but the best thing is, is that he’s lived the life of, ‘I’m truly sorry and I’m going to be a good man.’ And so that made it really easy for me to become comfortable with Jeffery. And we’re getting a great football player, that goes without saying, but we’re getting a great man. Our locker room is so important, and we only have good men in there. And this young man is a good man.”
Simmons got emotional as he listened to Strunk vouch for him, and the work she expected him to do in the community.
“I mean, coming from a woman, . . . like I said, I made that mistake,” Simmons said. “I regret it. Just to hear her say all that, I’m grateful. Key word she said was trust. [I’ll] tell her in front of you guys that she can trust me. I won’t let her down. I won’t let either one of you guys [Robinson and Vrabel] down. I’m grateful.”
At a time when other teams are under scrutiny for making exceptions for exceptional players, the Titans took a chance others might not have. But that decision went all the way to the top, and Strunk is clearly comfortable with it.