NASHVILLE – The introductory press conference for Jeffery Simmons got emotional on Friday after Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk pledged her support and trust in the team's first-round pick.
Simmons, sitting two seats down from Strunk, tucked his head and shed tears when Strunk spoke about her faith in him while welcoming him into the organization.
The Titans picked Simmons, a defensive lineman who played at Mississippi State, with the 19th overall in the NFL Draft.
Simmons is recovering from an ACL injury. The injury, paired with an ugly off-field incident Simmons was involved in back in high school, led the Titans and other NFL teams to do extra homework on the big defensive lineman. The well-publicized incident has also resulted in heavy scrutiny since the pick was made.
"Coming from a woman," Simmons, fighting back tears, said of Strunk. "Like I said, I made a mistake, and I regret it. To hear her say (what she said), I am grateful. The key word she said was trust. And 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 these guys and down. I am grateful."
Strunk said she spoke with Titans General Manager Jon Robinson and head coach Mike Vrabel months ago about Simmons, and watched the video of the incident together.
"It was a process, but it did not take me long to see that this young man had an incident when he was in high school, and we can all look back on our lives in high school and wish we'd done things differently," Strunk said of Simmons. "But you can talk, 'I'm sorry.' But the best thing is he's lived the life of 'I'm truly sorry and I am going to be a good man.' So that made it really easy for me to become comfortable with Jeffery.
"We are getting a great football player, that goes without saying, but we are getting a great man. … We are a nation that gives second chances, and this young man, Jeffery Simmons, he deserved that second chance."
Simmons, who racked up 163 tackles, seven sacks, 32.5 tackles for a loss and four forced fumbles in three seasons at Mississippi State, began the offseason as a potential top-10 pick.
The Titans will monitor his progress as he works his way back onto the field in 2019.
Simmons vowed to do his part on the field, and in the Nashville community.
"These people trust me to come in here and do what I need to do on and off the field," Simmons. "This organization here stuck with me, and I will not let this organization down. I am proud to be a Tennessee Titan."
New Titans defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons is introduced to reporters in Nashville. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)
The Tennessee Titans select Mississippi State defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons in the first round (19th overall) of the 2019 NFL Draft. (Photos: AP, Mississippi State)