30 becomes someone's lucky number
Sunday, May 20, 2007
Houston Chronicle


By MEGAN MANFULL
Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle

Texans running back Ahman Green asked around the locker room before he even approached Jason Simmons. Green wanted to know if he was wasting his time.

He didn't know Simmons well, and, even more importantly, he didn't know how attached the Texans safety was to the No. 30.

"Everybody was like, 'He's a good guy. He's going to work something out with you someway or somehow,' " Green said.

Green, who started wearing 30 even before attending Nebraska, became optimistic but still wasn't sure what it might cost him. The tradition around the NFL is that if you want someone else's number, you pay them.

When Green finally asked, Simmons shocked him.

"He said, 'Sure, but I'd like you to make a down payment on a single-parent home through a foundation or charity,' " Green said. "I was like, 'Yeah I'm all on board. That's easy. Tell me where to write the check to.'

"So instead of putting the money into his pocket, he's going to put in into somebody else's home and help them get their life started."

Simmons had no personal connection to the number 30. He wore 23 for four seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers. When he arrived in Houston as a free agent before the 2002 season, they handed him 30.

Now, he will wear No. 22.

"It was the first number I saw," Simmons said of 22. "I don't care. Just put me on the field, and I'll play with any number."

No. 30 does mean something to Simmons now, and he also knows it will soon mean something to a worthy family in the community.

Simmons always found it a little ridiculous that players pay each other for certain numbers. But now, he is excited about how that old NFL tradition will be put toward a good cause.

"It's kind of tough for me to take money from another guy," Simmons said. "I don't need that. We'll go out and help the community, because this city has stuck by us. If we can go out and show that we're with the community and we appreciate all that they've done, I think it's a good thing."


Attention will help
Simmons has worked with various charities during his 10-year career, but it's usually been done with little fanfare. This time it's going to be different. Green was the first to speak out about their plans, but Simmons doesn't mind the attention.

They will reveal more details once they finalize their plans.

"It's not about getting credit for it," Simmons said. "But the way I look at it now is that I can get more people involved. It's time now to broaden my horizons, and if I can follow the same game plan, we can help more people out instead of just one person."


'Good role models'
It's that type of collaboration between Green and Simmons that coach Gary Kubiak values. He wants to build the team around youth but puts value on players who set positive examples on and off the field.

"When Ahman Green walks on this football field, it's instant respect because of the way he has played and stuff," Kubiak said. "But the guys we have on this team that are up in years, so to speak, are classy guys. And that's what we want, because we have such a young group that they have to have good role models every day, and I think we have that right now."


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