By Mark Kelly, Contributing Writer
Earlier this week New York Jets first round draft pick Jamal Adams commented on some of the NFL rule changes to help promote safety.
His response drew some criticism around the NFL and social media.
On Monday Adams was part of a panel with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. When a fan asked a question about the link between football and degenerative brain disease by citing some of the NFL’s efforts to improve player safety, Adams started shaking his head.
There is no doubt that in recent years the NFL has faced a backlash of the neglect they have shown former players that gave their life to this sport.
Journal of AMA Study Released
Last week The Journal of the American Medical Association released a report revealing that 110 of 111 donated brains from N.F.L. players showed signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease connected to repeated head trauma. The disease, also known as C.T.E., is associated with symptoms including depression, dementia and memory loss.
One major criterion that influenced the study was that the brain tissue analyzed was given by families whose former player was showing symptoms of the disease.
Jamal Adams Comments on New Rules
Adams is entering his rookie season after the New York Jets drafted with the sixth overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft. Many draft experts praise his “old school” mentality in playing the game he loves. Adams thinks that many of the recent rule changes that were instituted to help protect the players are detrimental to the league.
“I’m all about making the game safer, but as a defensive player, I’m not a big fan of it,” said Adams. “But I get it. I can speak for a lot of guys that play the game. We live and breathe. This is what we’re so passionate about.”
Adams added, “Literally, I would — if I had a perfect place to die, I would die on the field.”
Former Players Wife Speaks Out
The ex-wife of former Steelers offensive lineman Justin Strzelczyk thought Adams comments were insensitive. Keana McMahon, who was married to Strzelczyk for eight years, said her husband would suffer from mood swings and aggressive behavior in his retirement from football. Strzelczyk died in a head-on collision with a truck in September 2004.
On Tuesday, Adams clarified those comments saying his remarks were about passion.
Adams Deserves Slack
This is the sort of thing that really bothers me. Players should be allowed to speak their mind about what drives them to be the player they are. While I can fully understand the stance of someone who has suffered the incredible sadness and desperation of living with someone with CTE, that doesn’t mean Adams was in any way being insensitive of that.
Adams reminds many of Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott, who played on four championship teams with the 49ers and once had his pinkie finger amputated to avoid the long recovery time that would have followed reconstructive surgery.
Saying that, I think it is VITAL that the NFL do more to help the families of players who have suffered or are suffering from this disease. I interviewed a player, Brent Boyd, a few months ago that suffers from CTE and it really opened my eyes to what these former players deal with. Some of the stances the NFL has taken against these players are disgusting.
The New York Jets and their fans will get to see Adams make his NFL debut August 12 against the Titans at MetLife Stadium.
Mark Kelly covers the New York Jets for ProFootballSpot.com. You can follow him on twitter @CkmagicSports. Looking for more Jets news and features? Like our Jets Facebook page and also follow @spot_jets on Twitter.