Nashville became the center of the football world last week. As the host city for the NFL draft, Music City proved to be the perfect fit, bringing over 600,000 to the three-day event.
At least 20 of Nashville’s guests were expecting to hear their name called. I was one of the few who hoped his name wouldn’t be.
Over the years, I’ve been called many things. A lot of people simply refer to me as Simmons. Other times, my name gets shortened down with something like “J Simms.” I answer to about anything.
I’ve never had a preference for my first name - Jeff or Jeffery both work. I’m only picky about the spelling – only because mine is the least common, falling behind Jeffrey and Geoff.
Because Geoff Griffin is as much a staple at sporting events as I am now (shout out to Painted Barn Media), I’ve told several people I’m writer Jeff and he’s picture Geoff. It works.
I only stop people on my first name if they pronounce it, “Joff-rey.” Yes, I watch Game of Thrones. His character was so loathed that I don’t want people to associate us or root for me to be poisoned – sorry for the spoiler.
I’ve also had an abundance of nicknames – Big Game, Air Simms, Jeffro (with some other stuff that can’t be printed). The list goes on and on.
My two favorites were “Jeffery Legend” and “Shoeless Simmons.” My dad bestowed the first on me because, as he put it, “I was only a legend in my own mind.”
Kelly Marlowe has made the second one famous. To this day, he calls me “Shoeless Simmons” because I lost my shoe in a freshman basketball game and kept playing. Some people embellish and say I went on to score 20 points without a shoe. Or maybe they don’t, but I’d encourage them to add that to the story.
Needless to say, I don’t care what I’m called. But aside from a few times I’ve heard my mom scream my full name, I’ve never dreaded hearing my name more than Thursday night.
When the Titans went on the clock, Mississippi State DT Jeffery Simmons was still on the board. Wearing my Jasksonville Jaguars jersey on Broadway, I told everybody around I hoped he would go anywhere but Tennesseee.
Roger Goodell strolled out to a chorus of cheers. He opened his mouth and said what I dreaded.
“With the 19th pick of the NFL draft, the Tennessee Titans select Jeffery Simmons.”
Is it too late to change my name?