Tag Archives: Jeffery Simmons

Shift Your Focus: Mississippi State is Helping Jeffery Simmons

Mississippi State’s season begins next Saturday when Southern Alabama visits Starkville.  However, the Bulldogs will be without freshman defensive end Jeffery Simmons, who is expected to make an immediate impact for Dan Mullen’s defense.

If you haven’t heard by now, Simmons was suspended one game by Mississippi State for a punching a woman after a video of the incident was released in March. In the video, Simmons is seen unleashing a flurry of punches on a woman, who is lying on her back attempting to defend herself from the blows, in a matter of three to five seconds.

It was violent. It was inappropriate. It was irresponsible.

According to reports, Simmons was attempting to defend his sister after the victim made comments about their deceased nephews. He released an apology to the victim and her family shortly after the video was released. However, as accurate as those reports may be, and as sincere as his apology probably is, nothing makes his actions excusable.

Other than the one game suspension, Mississippi State announced that Simmons will undergo counseling by school personnel.

The announcement of the punishment sparked a wave of harsh media criticism toward Head Coach Dan Mullen’s, Athletic Director Scott Stricklin and Mississippi State as an institution.  Many didn’t see a one-game suspension as a formidable repercussion for assaulting a woman.

Countless articles and posts can be found from multiple sources condemning the “lack of action” Mississippi State officials took by suspending Simmons only one game.  However, what you’ll struggle to find is mention of the counseling requirement MSU placed on Simmons.  You won’t find too many pieces talking about all the good things the community leaders in his town had to say about him, and you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone wishing Mr. Simmons well as he attempts to become a better man after a heinous act of violence.

To reiterate, nothing that can or will be done will make Simmons’ actions acceptable.  Violence of any kind is reprehensible. However, let’s not forget that Simmons is a human being, too. Someone that lashes out in the way he did absolutely deserves punishment, but that person also needs help.  That’s exactly what Mississippi State, Mullen’s, and Stricklin are trying to provide.

What if Mississippi State decided not to admit Simmons? As a five-star recruit, another school is bound to pick him up. Of course, that school may provide punishment that could be less-than, equal to or greater than the one he’s already been handed, but the odds are good that we’d be right back here debating the appropriateness of his punishment. There’s also a slim chance that Simmons wouldn’t be picked up by another team. Then what happens? He stays at home, a judge gives him a fine, and he probably doesn’t get the kind of help an institution like MSU can provide.

I’m happy that Simmons will be receiving help under the guidance and structure of Mississippi State State’s football program.  The appropriateness of a one-game suspension can be argued for days, but that’s not where the focus should lie in this situation. The focus should be on the young, 19-year-old student-athlete who has apologized and admitted his mistake and has been put in a position to improve his life and learn how to treat others with respect. If another incident occurs I hope Mullen’s comes down much, much harder on Simmons. Until that happens, though, let’s give Simmons a chance to prove that he can turn things around.

E-mail Evan at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @skilliter.

Picture By Mississippi State University [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Dan Mullen Giving Jeffery Simmons a Second Chance

The announcement was made yesterday that Mississippi State recruit Jeffery Simmons will be permitted to enroll in school and play for Dan Mullen’s Bulldog football team. This came as a shock to many people because he was allegedly guilty of assault and disturbing the peace back in March.

This was more than simple assault considering that Simmons struck a woman. Here is the video if you would like to view it.

There is no question that Simmons was wrong for striking this woman. This would hold true if he had hit a man or a woman. However, I also believe that, based on what we know, he deserves a second chance. Part of what we know is that he has been charged with nothing up to this point.

The argument being made against Mullen and Mississippi State offering Simmons a second chance revolves around the systemic rape culture that had been supported at Baylor.

Mullen and Mississippi State are not Art Briles and Baylor.

[Merenbloom:  Baylor and Art Briles Live Off of Redemption]

I do not believe that it is fair to Simmons, Mullen or Mississippi State to hold them accountable for what went on at Baylor. Similar circumstances are not the same circumstances. Similar crimes are not the same crimes.

One of the big differences between the situations at Baylor and Mississippi State was that Simmons did not allegedly commit his assault as a student of Mississippi State. I may be splitting hairs here, but this is a distinction that needs to be acknowledged. It is this distinction that makes lumping these two institutions together seem misguided to me.

Another difference is that Mississippi State openly acknowledged that Simmons is a high-risk individual based on the assault accusations and the video that is available. Baylor chose to ignore the allegations and facts surrounding some of its football players committing rape.

Mississippi State not only acknowledged the high-risk nature of admitting Simmons to the school, but the school has also implemented a support system for Simmons once he arrives on campus.

After careful assessment, the MSU athletics department has determined Simmons may be a part of the football team, but he will be evaluated by the licensed professionals at the university’s Student Counseling Services and be required to complete any program prescribed by that office.

Not only is there a support system in place for Simmons, but he is also suspended for the first game of the season. Suspending a player for a game is unprecedented considering that he did not commit his alleged crime as a current member of the team and, do not forget, he has yet to be charged with anything.

None of this seemed to happen at Baylor.

With all of that said, there is no guarantee that the second chance being given to Simmons will be a success. That is completely up to him.

Mississippi State and Mullen have now placed their fate in the hands of a kid. It is true that this is the case with every coach in America, but the confidence that the university and coach have placed in Simmons falls under greater scrutiny given what has transpired at Baylor.

This scrutiny is fine, but making Mississippi State even passively culpable for what happened at Baylor is not fine.

If Simmons assaults anyone while enrolled at Mississippi State, all bets are off. There should be no third chance and people should lose jobs. But to assume that Simmons will assault someone else and make him, Mississippi State and Mullen all guilty of something that has not happened yet is not fair.

Mullen is taking a chance on Simmons and it is a chance that Simmons best take seriously.

E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom.

Photo: Flickr