BTW: Jamarko Simmons, Pursuing the Dream
11/23/2011 4:11 PM
In this edition of Beyond the Wall, AFL Communications sat down with New York Jets tight end Jamarko Simmons. Simmons played for the Jacksonville Sharks in 2011 and led the team with three touchdowns in their ArenaBowl XXIV victory. Simmons was signed to the New York Jets practice squad on October 31, 2011.
EDITOR: What philosophies carried over from the arena game to the NFL?
JAMARKO SIMMONS: Coach Les Moss taught us to work hard and fight through every battle and obstacle we may confront as players, all the way from playing in the AFL Championship game and pulling out a win at the very end, to capitalizing on every opportunity given.
ED: What drives and motivates you to keep pursuing the dream to play the highest level of football?
JS: My son who is three years old. I want to teach him the philosophy that you can achieve anything that is put in front of you. My family also motivates me; knowing that I've had this dream since I was little boy and now I can fulfill that.
ED: In what ways do you feel the AFL has helped prepare you for this opportunity with the Jets practice squad?
JS: I have been in season since last February, along with training camp. I told my family that this is going to be the hardest year of my life. I’ve made it to every one of my goals, with the exception of making the starting roster. That is my next goal. The AFL also helps me stay in shape by going up against different players each and every day. The AFL is also a quicker game. I need to be able to react fast and that has helped me transition to every level I have made it to.
ED: What are noticeable similarities between with the AFL and NFL?
JS: The camaraderie amongst the players and the competitive nature of the leagues.
ED: How are you progressing on this Jets practice squad?
JS: My coach, Mike Devlin, an assistant coach, is a great guy who coached at Toledo, a MAC school, which is in the same conference as Western Michigan, where I came from. He understands how hard it is for players to make it to this level. He is a great coach. I am progressing with my blocking, my receiving and my learning of the concepts. I came from a numbers system in the AFL, where as now it’s a West Coast concept with several wordings and multiple routes.
ED: Describe what the atmosphere is like on the practice squad; knowing everyone’s main objective is to make the active squad?
JS: It's crazy. I am going up against the number one defense in the league everyday. I would love to stay here with all these great players and coaching staff. This is a great experience for anyone. You have to bring your "A-Game" to every practice and if you play well, you will get noticed.
ED: How important is every rep you take on that practice squad?
JS: It's huge. I need to take every rep. Even when I have nothing left, I've just got to give it my all.
ED: Explain what the adjustment period was like when transitioning from the AFL season and directly into another season.
JS: The transition impacted my girlfriend and my son the most, but it will work out for all of us. I have been playing and traveling with football since I was eight years old, but now I have a family and do not see my son that much; but he knows it's for a greater cause.
ED: What advice would you give AFL player’s looking to make an NFL roster?
JS: I know a lot of guys still playing and we all know the motto; “If you can reach, go get it”. Whatever you can do, do it and it will all work out.
ED: Now, some off the field questions. Go to Food?