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Front Page - Friday, September 16, 2022

Gospel music preps Simmons for NFL violence

Tennessee Titans defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons is about to separate an unsuspecting New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones from the football during Sunday’s home-opener. Simmons had six tackles, two for sacks, and two quarterback hits during the game. - Photo by Mark Zaleski | AP

Call it the calm before the storm. As violent and dominating a player as Jeffery Simmons can be, one might think he marches to hard-core rap strains of NWA or Eminem. Or maybe Simmons gets fired up for football with the hard rock sounds of AC/DC or Guns ‘n Roses.

All good guesses, but wrong.

The Tennessee Titans star defensive tackle has a little less raucous way to get ready for a game or just football work in general. His preferred music choice: Something that glorifies God.

“The thing I always listen to when it’s early morning and I’m headed to the stadium is gospel,” Simmons says.

What the All-Pro defensive lineman does is simply go to Pandora or the songs on his own playlists and let them come up on shuffle to get him in the right frame of mind.

“I let it just go on its own and whatever comes on comes on. Gospel (music) just gets my mind clear and lets me be at ease,” Simmons says. “So as I’m headed to the stadium that’s what I listen to. When I get there, I change it up a little bit and kind of listen to something that will get me more amped up a little bit, but the gospel just kind of settles me down.”

Does Simmons have a favorite gospel or contemporary Christian artist that particularly reaches him? Not really, he says, he listens to all of it, from modern songs to hymns and spiritual songs from the past.

“It’s all of it. It’s whatever plays on my phone. I go to Pandora sometimes, and I even have playlists of my own that I’ve created of gospel songs. I do the shuffle and whatever plays, plays,” Simmons says.

Simmons, who starred at Mississippi State before being a first-round choice of the Titans in 2019, says he began listening to Christian music while playing for the Bulldogs.

“I’ve done it since college. High school, of course, you go to game day right from school, but since I’ve been to college, that’s kind of been my mindset. I always tell people that if it wasn’t for God I wouldn’t be here today,” he says.

Gospel music, though, isn’t a Sunday only thing for Simmons, who says he also uses the music to uplift himself in the mornings before he heads to Saint Thomas Sports Park for practices.

“I do it headed to work every morning. I feel like that’s something that kind of eases me, and I’m sure you say the same, you don’t always wake up feeling great,” Simmons says. “When I wake up every morning, I don’t always wake up with a great attitude. But when I play the gospel and go about my day, it really helps me settle down.”

If praise-and-worship music settles Simmons down and gets his mind right to play, there’s probably a similar unsettled feeling to a lot of NFL quarterbacks. In his third NFL season last year, Simmons totaled 8.5 sacks, plus three more against Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow in the playoffs. In the 2021 regular season, Simmons had 12 tackles for loss and 16 quarterback hits.

In Sunday’s opening loss to the New York Giants, Simmons was still playing at a monster pace. He had six tackles, including two sacks and a forced fumble that resulted in 19 lost yards and a turnover for the Titans.

And for that type of production, Titans fans can say, “Amen.”

Terry McCormick covers the Titans for TitanInsider.com, a part of Main Street Media.