The former Coastal Carolina standout snubbed his alma mater during NBC’s player introductions, when starters are given a few seconds to say their names, positions and schools.
When it was Simpson’s turn to give a shout out to the Chanticleers, he called an audible: “Jerome Simpson, Wide Receiver, Reidsville High School.”
It’s become a common tactic for NFL players angered at their alma maters for whatever reason. In fact, moments before Simpson’s stiff-arm, the Houston Texans offensive linemen used their elementary school names as a joke.
But for Simpson and his fellow former Chants-turned-NFL players, that reason appears to be the removal of David Bennett as head coach. Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyler Thigpen and San Diego Chargers running back Mike Tolbert both wrote leaders to the school expressing their disappointment in the school’s decision to replace Bennett.
Simpson made similar comments to the media but did not send a public correspondence. Saturday’s moment on the main stage was the first sign of him distancing himself from the school that produced the second-round draft pick.
Coastal did get some pub, however, when Simpson had a pass broken up in the third quarter. NBC color analyst Mike Mayock said, “Coastal Carolina, Jerome Simpson, you have to come back to the ball.”
Mayock continued to criticize Simpson for his skills during the replay until, on the very next play, Simpson caught a ball over the middle, leaped over a would-be tackler and picked up 16 yards for a first down, forcing Mayock to temper his commentary.
“Right on cue, Simpson shows what he does best. He is one of the most athletic wide receivers in the league … (but) he needs to work harder to improve.”
Simpson caught three passes for 33 yards and made his second hurdle of a defender in the past three weeks. In Week 16 he did a front flip over a Denver Broncos linebacker and landed on his feet in the end zone, earning the No. 1 play of the season on many lists.
Now that his season is over, Simpson must turn his attention to a pending investigation after he was arrested for having 2.5 pounds of marijuana delivered to his home last fall. Federal authorities might not be as easy to hurdle as unsuspecting defenders.
But, either fortunately or unfortunately for the Chants, Simpson apparently no longer lists Coastal Carolina as his alma mater.