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Updated: May 2nd, 2012 11:25am
Jerome Simpson defends character: 'I just made a poor decision'

Jerome Simpson defends character: 'I just made a poor decision'

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Jerome Simpson made his pitch to the Minnesota Vikings last month that his involvement in a felony drug case wasn't reflective of who he is as a person.

But Simpson said on Wednesday he knows he still has to prove to his new teammates and coaches, as well as everyone else in the NFL that he deserves to be in the league.

"Everybody knows that that wasn't my character, what happened, and it's basically just prove it," said Simpson, the athletic receiver who signed a one-year deal with the Vikings last week.

"You can talk all you want to, but if you don't prove it, it really doesn't mean a hill of beans."

Simpson, 26, was arrested in September after about 2 pounds of marijuana were shipped to his northern Kentucky home. Authorities reportedly found 6 more pounds of marijuana inside the home, as well as scales and smoking devices.

"It was tough," Simpson 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."

Simpson pled guilty on March 1 and was sentenced to 15 days in jail and three years' probation. The NFL suspended him for three games under its substance-abuse policy.

That didn't stop the Vikings from bringing him in for a visit last month after an extensive check into his background.

"That's something I just found out recently talking to them," Simpson said. "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."

Simpson said he told team officials "that wasn't my characteristics and just that I'm a good guy, love the community, love kids and everything and I just made poor decision."

Quarterback Christian Ponder was among a group of about eight players coach Leslie Frazier called to have lunch with Simpson before the team made an offer.

"He's a great guy," Ponder said. "I've been hanging out with him. He's real down to earth and so athletic. We're happy for him to be a part of this team, for sure."

In spite of the pending legal situation, Simpson posted career highs last season with 50 receptions for 725 yards and four touchdowns. He penciled in as the starter at the split-end position once he's served his three-game ban.

Asked if he plans to appeal, Simpson said, "I just have to accept it right now. That's up to my agent. So, I really don't get into it. I just want to get back to playing football as soon as possible."

Simpson joined the Vikings' offseason workouts soon after signing with the team and has been spending extra time throwing with Ponder after each session. He called signing with the Vikings his "second chance" and said he intends to take full advantage.

"It's absolutely a 'prove it' (season) just because the nature of that I did get in trouble last year," Simpson said. "I have to prove to the league, myself and everybody else out there that I deserve to be in this league."

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero
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