One thing that repeatedly happens in these days of constant outrage and manufactured spectacle is folks love to oversimplify and equate situations and cases that are far from identical. That happened last week when the Titans drafted former Mississippi State defensive lineman Jeffrey Simmons, and new information surfaced about Kansas City’s Tyreek Hill. The only thing similar about the two situations is both happened in 2016. But one involved someone who was in high school at the time (Simmons), while the other concerns an adult who is quite possibly guilty of spousal and child abuse.
By now pretty much anyone who wants to see the video of Jeffrey Simmons hitting a woman while she’s on the ground has seen it. ESPN ran it multiple times, and it’s gone viral. What isn’t being told as often about that incident is (1) the woman in question was ridiculing the dead children of Simmons’ sister and (2) his mother was involved in the altercation. Certainly none of that justifies what Simmons, a six foot four, 301 pound man did in striking a woman multiple times while she’s on the ground. Whether you’re in high school or your seventies, there’s no justification, excuse or defense for doing that except if the other party has a weapon and is about to hurt or kill someone.
Simmons has repeatedly apologized for the incident, and the Titans held a press conference last week with Simmons, majority owner Amy Adams Strunk, head coach Mike Vrabel, and general manager Jon Robinson, where the point was made no one was excusing or endorsing what Simmons did, but he deserved a second chance on the basis of everything that has happened since that time.
Still, there were many who were quick to link Simmons’ case with that of Hill, the undeniably gifted but obviously troubled Chiefs receiver. Hill was already under scrutiny for alleged domestic violence against his fiancee. Initially, a prosecutor declined to bring charges, saying that while he felt a crime had been committed, there wasn’t enough evidence to support moving forward. But then audio was released of a conversation between Hill and Crystal Espinal during which he not only discussed abusing his son, but threatened her. Upon hearing that, the Chiefs suspended Hill, and the prosecutors reopened the investigation.
No one who’s truly knowledgeable about both cases would compare them. Simmons had no prior incidents, and hasn’t had a problem since 2016. Back in 2014 Hill was arrested for assaulting Espinal, who was pregnant at that time. He was booted off Oklahoma State’s team, pleaded guilty to domestic assault and sentenced to probation and anger management classes. The case was expunged in 2018 upon completion of probation and classes, but obviously Hill’s problems remain. He’s now unable to enter the Chiefs facility other than for therapy and meetings, and is a candidate for the NFL’s exempt list.
Jeffrey Simmons made one bad mistake in high school. He’s trying to get beyond it. No one should link him with a serial abuser and person who keeps getting into the same trouble despite multiple efforts to help him. Whatever else one wants to say about the Tyreek Hill case, it’s vastly different from that of Jeffrey Simmons, and the Titans shouldn’t be judged on anything other than what happens in the future. If there’s another problem, they made a mistake.
But if he continues to evolve and grow as a citizen and a person, no matter what happens on the football field, it’s a good thing.