Jets rookie Jamal Adams is already making headlines just a few days into his very first NFL training camp. But unfortunately, they are the wrong kind of headlines and involve something he said off the football field as opposed to something he did on it.
During a Jets fan forum on Monday, Adams—who was on a panel that included NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell—was asked a question about player safety as it pertains to CTE. And in light of the recent report that was released about NFL players and CTE, you would think that he would have approached the topic with a certain sensitivity. But while answering the question, Adams responded by making a surprising admission.
"Literally, if I had the perfect place to die," he said, "I’d die on the field."
Adams’ comment was met with applause from those who attended the forum, which made for an uncomfortable situation:
So uncomfortable that Goodell was forced to try and clarify what he thought Adams meant later.
"I think what he was really making the point of is how he much loved the game and how passionate he is about the game," he said. "It’s just something that means a great deal to him. I get the emotion of that."
Shortly after Adams’ comments started to make the rounds on social media, many people criticized him for saying what he said during the forum. They accused him of taking things too far by suggesting that he would prefer to "die" on the football field, especially when there are former NFL players who are suffering with adverse effects right now as a result of playing football:
And Keana McMahon—the ex-wife of the late Steelers offensive lineman Justin Strzelczyk, who suffered from violent mood swings and other symptoms of CTE prior to dying in a head-on collision at the end of a police chase in 2004—spoke with the New York Daily News and chastised Adams for his remarks at the Jets forum. She was shocked and appalled by what he shared with the crowd.
"I don’t even know what to say," she said. "This guy doesn’t know what’s coming down the pipeline. He has no idea what dealing with someone who has CTE is like."
In fairness to Adams, he’s a 21-year-old NFL rookie and his youth could be blamed for the tone deaf statement he made on Monday:
But it’s worth noting that Adams' veteran teammate Morris Claiborne made a similar statement while speaking with the NYDN on Monday and said that he too would "die out there on that football field" if he had to. So it’s probably safe to say that this general approach to player safety and CTE is a problem for the NFL. And the league should spend more time talking to players about the potential health issues they might be forced to deal with one day, especially if they're going to have them talking about those issues out in front of fans.