When Florida A&M University head coach Willie Simmons announced he was suspending football activities after a rap video shot in his locker room was posted online, the Twitter fingers got busy.
Many people felt that shutting down football activities with six weeks left before football practice over a music video was a bit of an overreach. Those people clearly are unfamiliar with Simmons.
Simmons has been an outspoken proponent of fighting against gun violence throughout the years. He made waves back in 2019 when he asked FAMU supporters to give to “a cause supporting the community” on the school’s day of giving.
Contrast that with the lyrical content of “Send A Blitz” by the Real Boston Richey, the video shot in FAMU’s locker room.
“That’s where them snipers roam…“
“Catch y’all out lacking, that’s on my mama, we shoot s—t on sight…”
“It’s a closed casket, at his funeral he had his noodle out…”
Those are just lyrics and words to many people, but throughout his time at Florida A&M, Simmons has made it clear that he takes gun violence very seriously.
Just two years after speaking out about gun violence, Simmons’ family was touched by it when his son was shot near Bragg Stadium.
“Our family has been vocal advocates against gun violence in our community, unfortunately, the issue has now impacted us on an even more personal level,” he told The Tallahassee Democrat. “We appreciate your prayers and ask that you give our family time to support our son as he recovers from his injuries. We as a community must work together to ensure that other families do not have to endure the senseless trauma of gun violence we now face.”
Simmons’ son eventually recovered, and he continued to work to try to help the issue.
“At what point, when is enough, enough? Simmons told HBCU Gameday’s Vaughn Wilson in 2022. “How many more lives do we have to lose? How many more families have to suffer? How many more people have to be afraid to go to regular establishments — churches, movie theaters, schools, of all places? How many more times do we have to read this before the people who are in charge of making decisions for our safety, do something?”
Simmons told our audience in that video that he lost his best friend to gun violence near FAMU’s campus in addition to having his son get shot and having his players lose their friends to gun violence.
As Simmons said in his statement on Friday, free speech does matter. But staying true to one’s beliefs matters as well.
Football activities will resume at some point for FAMU. But by taking a moment to pause and reflect, Simmons reaffirmed that his advocacy for a more safe world for his family, players and the community at large are not just hollow PR statements. And hopefully, his message will be digested as well.