Matt Ludtke/Associated Press
New York Jets rookie Jamal Adams chimed in Monday on NFL player safety and CTE, telling a group of fans he would be fine with dying on the football field, per Rich Cimini of ESPN.com.
Later that day, Green Bay Packers tight end Martellus Bennett offered a far different perspective:
“Look football is great but I ain’t dying for this s–t. Lol,” he added.
Adams made his comments while explaining his passion for football (via Cimini):
“I can speak for a lot of guys that play the game. We live and breathe it. This is what we’re so passionate about. Literally, if I had a perfect place to die, I would die on the field. And that’s not a lie. There’s so much sacrifice that we go through as a team, and just connecting as one and winning ball games. There’s nothing like playing the game of football. But again, I’m all about making the game safer.”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell tried to frame those comments under the umbrella of passion.
“I think fans understood the emotion of what he was saying,” Goodell said, per Cimini. “Which is: We love the game. I think they love the game. But I don’t think anyone took it [literally].”
Still, Adams’ comments come at a time when debate over player safety has become one of the most pressing storylines for the NFL and the sport of football in general.
Last week, the medical journal JAMA published a study of 202 brains from deceased former football players. In that study, doctors found CTE in 110 of the 111 brains from former NFL players.
Current NFL players are paying attention. According to Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun, Baltimore Ravens sources indicated offensive lineman John Urschel retired Thursday partially due to the results of the study. ESPN’s Adam Schefter, meanwhile, recognized a pattern:
Bennett and Adams, then, seem to represent two sides of the issue. Players, league officials and fans continue to debate the proper balance between pursuing a passion in an inherently violent sport and securing the long-term health of those who choose to play it.