Jerome Simpson (Scott Boehm/Getty)
Vikings receiver Jerome Simpson said his arrest for having more than 2 pound of marijuana shipped to his home last year “wasn’t my character.” After signing a one-year deal with the Vikings, he knows he is in a “prove it” season.
Minnesota Vikings receiver Jerome Simpson, officially signed to a one-year contract last Thursday, said he simply has to accept his three-game suspension and said he made a “mistake” when he was arrested for having 2½ pounds of marijuana shipped to his Kentucky home in September.
Simpson was sentenced earlier this month to 15 days in jail, three years of probation and 200 hours of community service and will also be required to play a $7,500 fine and court costs after pleading guilty to a prohibited act relating to a controlled substance. Authorities said they found another pound of marijuana inside his house.
The Vikings brought him to Minnesota for a visit in April so he could meet the coaches and talk to potential teammates before the team signed him. He had lunch with about eight teammates, including quarterback Christian Ponder, and said he had to prove his character to them and coaches he met with during his visit.
“Everybody knows that (incident) wasn’t my character, what happened, and it’s basically just prove it. You can talk all you want to, but if you don’t prove it, it really doesn’t mean a hill of beans,” Simpson said.
“That wasn’t my characteristics. … I’m a good guy, love the community, love kids and everything, and I just made a poor decision.”
The Vikings said they researched Simpson’s background thoroughly before deciding to sign him. In addition to meeting with him, they inquired about him to those who knew him.
“That’s something I just found out recently talking to them,” Simpson said when asked if knew how much he was being investigated. “Every team’s just going to do that background check and see, ‘Was this guy really like this?’ And everybody knew that that wasn’t me. That’s basically it.”
The Vikings said those they talked to vouched for his character.
"Every person we talked to stood by the kid's character – not standing by the mistake he made, but by what this kid's character is. And we saw that when we brought him in here on a visit,” general manager Rick Spielman said.
Even so, the Vikings only signed Simpson to a one-year contract that calls for an $800,000 base salary, but the total compensation for 2012 could be worth up to $2 million with a $950,000 roster bonus and $250,000 workout bonus.
“It’s absolutely a ‘prove it’ (season) just because the nature of that I did get in trouble last year and I have to prove to the league, myself and everybody else out there that I deserve to be in this league,” Simpson said.
“(The Vikings) believed in me and I’m just blessed to have the opportunity to come back and play football again.”
His breakout season last year – when he had 50 receptions for 725 yards and four touchdowns for the Cincinnati Bengals – would say he deserves to be in the league. However, in the previous three seasons he played a combined 13 games, starting four, and caught only 21 passes for 279 yards. Why the sudden surge in 2011?
“It was timing and opportunity. I played behind some great guys,” he said, listing Chad Ochocinco, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Laveranues Coles and the late Chris Henry. “… It was just some guys I was behind and I got to learn from some greats in the game.”
Simpson said he always remained confident that he would get a second chance in the NFL, and now that the Vikings have given it to him, he’s “going to take full advantage of it.”
“It was tough,” he said. “But just like my mother always said, my grandmother, just keep the faith and as long as you keep working hard and moving forward then you can get past all the rough days.”
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.