Shawn Jefferson said he tried not to have any preconceived notions about Kenny Britt when he came to Nashville to coach the Tennessee Titans wide receivers.
Britt's off-field problems have been well-publicized, as he had at least nine incidents involving police in his time with the Titans.
But Jefferson says he tried not to read into all of that when he met Britt after joining the Titans. So far, he likes what he has seen.
“I'm one of these coaches, I don't get into listening to what people say. I get here and I see the guy and I'm with him in the classroom every day, and work with him, and then I'll judge him by myself,” Jefferson said.
One of his first looks into Britt's character, he said, was following a night practice in training camp.
“One day we had a night practice out here, and he was walking off the field with his daughter, and his daughter was crying. I said, 'Hey, man, what did you do to your daughter? Why did you make her cry?' He said she was over there playing with some other girls and didn't want to share the ball. So she can't play at all. That's a good guy. To me, I'm like, 'Wow.' You can't as a coach listen to all that outside stuff. I tend to judge people for myself.”
As for Britt's explanation of his life's troubles and trials, he says he hopes those things are past him now that he is 25 years old and has a family.
“Every year, I've tried to be on the straight and narrow, but things happen in life and you go through some things and there are gonna be bumps in the road,” Britt said. “There's always gonna be bumps in the road regardless of what it is. It's just the maturity level that what you do and don't do in your first year in the league when you're 20 years old that you don't do when you're 25 and you realize there are things that are more important.”
Jefferson says his coaching style tries to bring out the man first in a player before he ever worries about the player. He said he wants to get Britt straight as an individual first.
“The way I coach is I coach the man. Once the man is right, player springs forth out of the man. If the man is not right, you're always gonna see up and down stuff like that. But he's been awesome for me,” Jefferson said. “He's been one of the best leaders in my classroom, and I'm excited about him leading this group because he has a very gifted skill set as well.”