FLORHAM PARK, NJ—New York Jets safety Jamal Adams loves football to death. Literally.
“If I had a perfect place to die, I would die on the field,” Adams said Monday at a Town Hall with Jets fans in Florham Park, New Jersey. “I would be at peace. Literally. That’s not a lie.”
Adams strong words came in response to a fan’s question about concussions. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell sat next to Adams, his heart probably in his stomach after hearing Adams’s answer. The NFL has taken great pains to improve player safety, so this quote doesn’t exactly fit that narrative.
Though some will blow this quote out of proportion, Goodell understood how Adams felt.
“I think what he was really making the point of is how much he loved the game and how passionate he is about the game,” Goodell said. “It’s just something that means a great deal to him. I get the emotion of that.”
Adams isn’t the only Jet who feels this way. Jets cornerback Morris Claiborne, an LSU-product like Adams, essentially said the same thing a few days earlier.
“A lot of people don’t believe me when I say this,” Claiborne told the New York Daily News. “But I would die out there on that football field. This is my life. This is what I do. I give it all. I would die out there.”
Clear-thinking people understand the sentiments of these two players. It’s not the first time you’ve heard people say they “want to die doing what they love.”
Shortly before he was killed in a 1994 surfing accident, surfer Mark Foo said, “It’s not tragic to die doing something you love.”
Adams is from Texas and Claiborne from Louisiana, two red states where football is king. They are both head over heels in love with the sport.
These quotes have caused a national stir in the sports media, an industry loaded with football-haters. Perhaps many in the media hate football because so much of America loves it. It’s no secret the mainstream media is often out of touch with average Americans.
The progressive New York Daily News reached out to the ex-wife of the late Pittsburgh Steelers lineman Justin Strzelczyk, who was diagnosed with the degenerative brain disease, (CTE), following his death in 2004.
Strzelczyk tragically died at 36 when he drove his pickup truck into oncoming traffic on the New York State Thruway.
“I don’t even know what to say — this guy (Adams) doesn’t know what’s coming down the pipeline,” Keana McMahon, who divorced Strzelczyk nine months before he died, told the Daily News. “[Adams] has no idea what dealing with someone who has CTE is like. I bet my kids would want their father here. I know in my heart of hearts that Justin would have wanted to see his daughter get married someday or see his son graduate from college, not dying on a football field. To me (Adams) is sh—ing on Justin’s grave.”
Does anyone think Adams meant to disrespect former players, such as Strzelczyk, who suffered from CTE? That seems more than a little unfair. Also, CTE might not be “down the pipeline” for Adams. Most former NFL players don’t suffer from CTE.
To say he’s “shitting on Justin’s grave” is hyperbolic. Adams isn’t that kind of person. Coming out of LSU, NFL scouts raved about his character.
Current NFL players all know the concussion risk they take by playing football. It’s no longer a mystery like it was 20-30 years ago. When team doctors referred to concussions as “getting your bell rung,” then gave you smelling salts, and sent you back into the game.
Adams is very bright and well-aware of what he signed up for.
He’s willing to take the risk to do what he loves, same with Claiborne.
They accept the same risks that soccer, rugby, and skateboarding participants do. Three other sports with high concussion rates.
Perhaps it’s time for the sports media to focus on all sports with concussion issues, not just the one that America loves the most.