Head Injury

Jets' rookie's 'perfect place to die' response to player safety question prompts backlash

A Jets rookie has found himself in hot water over his response to a question on player health and safety that comes on the heels of the largest update on chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) so far. Jamal Adams, a 21-year-old rookie first-round pick from LSU, said he understands the league’s new safety rules, but that he’s “not a big fan,” and that if he “had a perfect place to die, I would die on the field.”

Adams, who was participating in a forum held Monday for season-ticket holders that included NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and running back Matt Forte, received applause from fans in attendance, but also harsh criticism from league veterans and relatives of players who suffered from CTE.

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“I don’t even know what to say.” Keana McMahon, ex-wife of late Steelers offensive lineman Justin Strzelczyk, who was diagnosed with CTE, told the New York Daily News. “This guy doesn’t know what’s coming down the pipeline. He has no idea what dealing with someone who has CTE is like.”

Strzelczyk intentionally drove his pickup truck into oncoming traffic on the New York State Thruway before fatally crashing into a tractor-trailer at age 36.

Adams continued in his response saying that it comes from the passion he has for the game, which was backed up by Goodell.

“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, according to The Associated Press. “It’s just something that means a great deal to him. I get the emotion of that.”

But veterans of the game were quick to criticize both Adams and Goodell, who they believe should have corrected the young player’s response in front of the fans who applauded. Glenn Foley, a former Jets quarterback, called it “an uneducated statement.”

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“The applause tells the story,” he told the New York Daily News. “But Goodell should have squashed it immediately and said, ‘We’re in the process of educating players.’ CTE is real. Adams is 20-something years old, stir crazy right now, in the New York spotlight. I don’t blame him for saying that. But to ignore CTE is to ignore the facts. That’s not the message the NFL wants.”

Veteran Packers tight end Martellus Bennet took to Twitter following Adams’ comments to refute his claim that he was speaking for “a lot of guys.”

“I hope All these young cats that are willing to die for the game of football find a higher purpose in life,” Bennett tweeted on Monday.

“Look football is great but I ain’t dying for this s--t. Lol,” he tweeted.

The controversy comes a week after Boston University and VA researchers reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association that they found evidence of CTE in 110 of 111 brains of deceased NFL players.