Jamal Adams is authentically himself, take it or leave it. The Seattle Seahawks safety is unapologetic about who he is and his ultimate goal in winning a championship.
After a tumultuous three-year run with the New York Jets, he is now a division champion and headed to the postseason for the first time in his NFL career.
“I don’t want to be too happy, because I don’t want people to say he’s dramatic; he hasn’t been here before,” Adams said while lighting up a celebratory cigar in his post-game presser following Seattle's 20-9 victory over the Rams. “You damn right I haven’t been here before. So, damnit, it feels good.”
But not even 12 months ago, Adams was struggling with bouts of depression while with the Jets. There are many reasons that led to the young superstar’s eventual trade, in which he detailed on NBC Sports’ The Peter King podcast.
Adams admits losing took a toll on him—the Jets won just 16 games during Adams three-year tenure, but ultimately tensions boiled over when he didn’t share the same mindset as the Jets organization.
He hated when the team would use the term “rebuild.”
“I couldn’t stand a rebuild… it was just a horrible word, I couldn’t stand it,” Adams told King. “You don’t know when your career is going to end, you don’t know how long you got, you have to master this short window. You only have a short window in this profession, and I felt like I had no time to waste. I don’t want to waste time, I’m in this to win.”
When Adams found himself walking into the Jets practice facility with headphones blaring positive music to get him motivated to play the game he loves, he knew his time in New York had come to a close.
“It was taking so much from me,” Adams said. “And it was affecting me in my outside life, and that’s when I knew I was done. I couldn’t do it anymore.”
After months of hostility in which Adams aired his grievances to the Jets organization, Adams’ wish to be traded was granted when John Schneider and the Seahawks acquired him in late July.
The 25-year-old safety says the Seahawks organization has embraced him from the start, citing a conversation between himself and Pete Carroll just moments after he was traded.
“Pete said come be you,” Adams recalled. “And when he said that, it was kind of like a shocker, because I was kind of like walking on eggshells at times with my previous team. When I got over here, I was kind of doing the same thing at first because I didn’t know that he was serious. He was dead serious. He’s all about second chances. He’s all about people being themself. He created an environment around the building that you can be yourself, you don’t have to change for anybody. He wants the best version of you, and he wants you to be the greatest you.
“So, I have so much respect for Pete and the staff, Schneider, it’s unbelievable. I’m in a happy place.”
Some might have thought the Seahawks giving up two first-round picks, a third-rounder, and Bradley McDougald for Adams was a steep price to pay, but nearly six months after the acquisition, Adams’ trade has paid big dividends for Seattle.
The strong safety has blitzed everywhere on the Seahawks defense en route to an NFL record for sacks by a defensive back. He now has 9.5 through 11 games, surpassing the previous record of eight, despite missing four games with a strained groin in October.
“He’s a fantastic part of our team,” Carroll said following Sunday's victory. “He is. He’s just got so much juice. He loves the game so much. He brings everything that he’s got and it affects other people in a really positive way. What a great acquisition that was, and I go back to John figured that out somehow, he got it done to orchestrate that.
"That’s a marvelous fix for our football season and he deserves all the credit on that.”
As Adams continues to lead the Seahawks defense into their final regular season game and into the postseason, his mission on the field is simple: Just be you.
“You can’t let the outside distract you,” Adams said. “For me, it’s either you love me or you hate me. There’s no in between, and I’m OK if you hate me. There’s no love loss. God bless you, but I’m going to keep being me, and I’m forever going to be me.”