Much like everybody else, a rare burst of winter weather that put a vast majority of southern states on pause two weeks ago took Jeffery Simmons by surprise.
Snowy and icy storms created much work remained for first responders, electric workers and others. In Noxubee County, Mississippi, where the Tennessee Titans defensive tackle starred in high school, those essential employees worked long days to restore services to the communities impacted.
Simmons, who has been doing offseason training in Dallas, Texas, did not hesitate to return to an area that still means so much to him. Last Friday at the Noxubee County Civic Center in Macon, Simmons provided meals and signed T-shirts to law enforcement and electric workers.
“I'm just grateful to be in a position to be able to show my appreciation to these guys," Simmons told The Dispatch, a newspaper that serves Starkville and Columbus, Mississippi, areas. "...Their job's as important as anybody else's job. I just wanted these guys to see that and feel that I really appreciate them and care about them and the job they're doing.”
A first-round pick by the Titans in the 2019, Simmons said he still has two aunts who live in the Macon area. Their power, however, remained throughout the storms. Just because he has family in the area, though, is not why he returned.
Simmons wanted to show community members that no matter how much fame he achieves, he will always remember where he came from. That mission was accomplished.
Jaron Andrews, an electric worker in the Noxubee area, brought his 17-year-old daughter, Anna Beth, to Simmons’ event. The two became fans during Simmons’ three-year career at Mississippi State University. His presence and generosity so clearly had a positive impact on them and many others.
"It's good to see somebody come in here and re-invest their time in the community," Jaron Andrews told the paper. "I like to see that as a parent of children who are growing up in the community."
Now a leader on the Titans’ defense and in the locker room overall, Simmons has played 24 games with 22 starts over the course of his two seasons with the Titans. He has registered five sacks, 81 tackles, seven tackles for a loss of yards and three fumble recoveries in all.
Many things, though, are bigger than football.
"I take pride in doing this. I take pride in just being able to show people that I don't have a 'hot head' as people say," Simmons said. "I just want to show people that no matter how far in life I go, I'm always going to remember Noxubee County. I'm always going to give back."