FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Jamal Adams vowed as a rookie to never miss another Pro Bowl after the selections were announced last year.
Well, the New York Jets’ playmaking safety is now 1 for 1 on delivering on that bold prediction.
Adams was picked as the starting strong safety for the AFC after being a bright spot in a mostly otherwise gloomy season for the Jets.
“Yeah, it’s an honor, man — a dream come true, honestly,” Adams said. “I had a moment with my father. He called me and he was definitely tearing up and he was happy for me and I was tearing up a little bit. I cried a little bit later, just at my house by myself.”
Adams’ father George was the Giants’ first-round draft pick in 1985 and played five seasons at running back for New York before playing his final two with New England. The elder Adams injured his hip before his second season and never lived up to his lofty draft status.
The younger Adams was picked sixth overall by the Jets last year — 13 spots ahead of where his dad was taken 32 years earlier.
“His career was cut short due to injury and, honestly, I felt like me being drafted by the Jets, it was my calling to come here and where he left off, to take off from there,” Jamal Adams said. “He always wanted to make the Pro Bowl and do great things, but it didn’t happen that way.
“I did it for my family and I did it for myself, and I did it for this team.”
Adams was one of three Jets selected for the Pro Bowl, joining return specialist Andre Roberts and kicker Jason Myers, with all three set to play in the NFL’s all-star game in Orlando, Florida, for the first time next month.
Adams had a solid rookie season last year, but fell short of being picked for the game. The safety wrote on Twitter : “I wont miss another Pro bowl. Believe that.”
Nearly a year to the day of that tweet, Adams got the news he wanted to hear and posted a picture of himself with outstretched arms and the words, “I’M IN” in bold, capital letters.
“His work habit has always been outstanding, but (he’s) now growing into a really bona fide leader for the team,” defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers said. “Then you keep looking at the way he works and prepares. I just left practice and I’m sitting there, here we are on a Thursday, checks and making sure everybody’s getting lined up and making the calls. That’s the way it should go.
“The guy comes in, works his butt off, does everything you ask him, plays his butt off and really somebody else noticed it.”
It’s hard not to.
Adams is one of the biggest hitters on the field, routinely delivering punishing blows to opposing receivers and ball carriers. He also always seems to be around the ball, a nod to the instincts coaches and scouts raved about leading up to the draft.
He ranks third on the team, according to the coaches’ stats, with 91 overall tackles. Adams also has 3½ sacks, three forced fumbles, eight tackles for loss and seven quarterback hits — all ranking him at the top or near in the league among safeties.
“He’s a phenomenal player, man,” linebacker Avery Williamson said. “You can consider him, like, the best safety in the league. He’s done a great job this year, he’s all over the field and I mean, he’s got that talent. He’s going to bring it every week and it’s definitely awesome playing with him.”
The 23-year-old Adams has also quickly established himself as an emotional leader for the Jets despite having just nearly two seasons of pro experience under his belt.
The safety says that’s the only way he knows, and it was like that growing up in Texas and throughout a brilliant college career at LSU.
“He’s that tone-setter,” Williamson said. “He’s (got) that ‘it’ factor. Man, you love having guys like that on your team.”
Williamson spent his first four seasons with Tennessee, so he knew little about Adams before signing with New York as a free agent in the offseason.
“The only thing I knew about him was I heard that he would die for the game.” Williamson said while laughing, referring to comments by Adams during a Jets town hall event with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in July 2017.
“I was like, ‘This dude’s crazy,'” Williamson added. “That’s all I really knew about him. But, yeah, he’s a great player. He talks a lot, but he backs it up.”
Adams is far from satisfied by being selected for this Pro Bowl. His goal, of course, is to keep making the team for as long as he keeps playing.
This one, though, will always have a place in his heart.
“I definitely did it for my father,” Adams said. “My mother, as well, and she’s definitely proud of me. My father and I have special relationship. I know he was excited.”
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