Tim Simmons doesn’t want to make it to the NFL for the accolades, attention, fanfare and increase in salary.
The 26-year-old first-year Wild receiver, who led the IFL in receptions last year, wants to tell his story to a worldwide audience.
"I actually can’t wait until I get on ESPN when they have this little documentary on me," Simmons said. "That’s my plan, too, to get a documentary on me."
Simmons grew up in Compton, Calif. The images that come to mind when that city is mentioned were real to Simmons — gang violence, rough neighborhoods, limited security.
"I’ve seen every which way people have been brought up and I’ve never seen any group of people that came up the way I had to come up," Simmons said. "I had to grow up really quick — and I’m talking about 11 years old, 10 years old, having to think on my own and provide for myself."
It’s difficult for anyone in Compton not to get caught up in the danger of his surroundings, and Simmons was no different.
He has been to jail, he has been disciplined by schools and seen friends killed. He calls these episodes "stumbling blocks," and judging by nearly a decade of good behavior and actions to match his words, that seems to be all they were.
"I want to show people that have had a troubled life that it may not be trouble all your life," Simmons said. "If you think right and you do it right, you can come out of that real quick. Pretty much anything you can think of negative-wise, I’ve been through it."
Simmons was dedicated to showing those who supported him that, "I wasn’t going to be just a statistic," so he decided he was going to follow the path of two standout athletes from Compton instead of the one that would hold him back from achieving.
NBA stars Tyson Chandler and Tayshaun Prince attended the same high school, Dominguez, as Simmons. He saw the attention they were getting from professional scouts and how well they handled it and decided he would use them as role models rather than following any of several negative influences.
"I’m seeing these guys getting the Coach K’s and the Dukes coming on campus," Simmons said. "The NBA is coming on campus and the NFL is coming on campus, and the only thing I’m saying to myself is, ’I want to be like them.’ But the route I was going, that wasn’t the route they were going. So I had to switch it up real quick just to be able to go to college."
It didn’t click right away. Simmons had good intentions, but he also had acquaintances who put him in dangerous situations.
Once a standout baseball player, Simmons switched to football because his friends played it. His athletic skills enabled him to go to college — first at two junior colleges, then at Jackson State — but he says he didn’t approach it the right way.
"Coming from where I grew up, I’m thinking, ‘I went to Dominguez High, I’m this big shot going into junior college,’ ” Simmons said. "When I get there, they have about four other guys that felt the same way that coming from where they were from. My ego kind of crashed because now I wasn’t the guy, I was just another guy."
Simmons said his turning point happened after a friend was killed. Simmons was arrested shortly after for carrying a gun, fearing he could be targeted next. He noticed many colleges stopped paying attention to him.
"I told myself, ‘Once I make it out of this one, I will never, ever come back to this place,’ ” Simmons said. "Since then I’ve been on the right path. I haven’t been in any trouble, just trying to do the right things and live right."
Soon after, his renewed outlook translated to the football field — Simmons made it to Division I-AA with Jackson State and has developed into a standout receiver in the indoor game.
Football, though, has sidetracked something Simmons really wants to do.
"I have a story," Simmons said. "Once I get it all together and do all my brainstorming, people who don’t know me but would like to get to know me would think, ‘This would be a good book.’
"I actually started writing a book in my life, but I kind of quit because I had to dedicate to football. Once it’s all said and done there’s going to be a book about me, because I’ve been through so much in my life."