Jets players may not be willing to tank the season, but two of them say they are willing to kick the bucket.
In separate contexts, safety Jamal Adams and cornerback Morris Claiborne expressed on Monday a willingness to die on the football field, if it came to it.
Speaking at a fan forum in response to a question regarding Chronic Traumatic Encephelopathy, Adams was blunt and unequivocal. “If I had a perfect place to die, I would die on the field,” he said, via Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.
Claiborne expressed a similar sentiment in remarks to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News.
“A lot of people don’t believe me when I say this,” Claiborne said. “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. . . . If I was concussed that bad where they said you can’t go back out there or you’ll potentially lose your life, I gotta go. I gotta go play. I gotta go play.”
Commissioner Roger Goodell, who was present for Adams’ remarks, downplayed them.
“I think what he was really making a point of is how much he loves the game and how passionate he is about the game, that he loves playing it and it just something that means a great deal to him,” Goodell said, per Vacchiano. “I get the emotion of that. I think our fans understood the emotions of what he was saying, which is ‘We love the game.’ I don’t think anyone took it directly.”
Given that an awkward round of applause emerged after Adams said what he said, I think maybe people did take it directly. And they approve of the gladiator mentality that has been part of the game for decades.
Many will disagree with the comments and the reaction to them, but the fact remains that no one can now say NFL players don’t know the risks. If Adams and Claiborne and any other players wish to not only assume but embrace those risks, that’s their right. It’s no different than the entire range of risks assumed/embraced in other activities, from riding a motorcycle to jumping from an airplane with a chute that may or may not open to engaging in mixed-martial arts combat, which routinely results in multiple concussions being delivered and sustained in a compressed period of time, and no one in the national media ever says “boo” about it.
Yes, the NFL is trying to make football as safe as possible. All risks will never be fully eliminated without changing the nature of the game. At some point, the safety measures could sufficiently alter the nature of the game to create an opening for a new league that embraces the same risks that players like Adams, Claiborne, and many others willingly embrace all the time.