Jamal Adams is New York’s lone Pro Bowler, and the men who play alongside him know exactly why.
“He becomes like … I don’t like to call nobody Superman or superhero,” Steve McLendon told The Post, “but in his eyes, man, that’s what he becomes. He puts that helmet on, he becomes somebody else, man. That’s all that passion and that hard work and all that dedication that he has put into this game. And you get it to see it. Like you get to witness it.”
More than anything else, what separates Adams from most is his love for the game, his passion for playing a game he was destined to play as a child of former Giants running back George Adams, and for game day.
“Jamal has a goal in mind,” McLendon said. “To be the best version of himself, every single time he steps on the field. And he’s doing that. He’s not trying to be better than nobody else, he’s trying to be better than he was the minute before, the play before or the game before, and that’s what’s making him such a great pro right now.”
It devastated Adams to miss the past two games with an ankle sprain. He’ll be ready for the Steelers.
“The past two weeks, I’m not gonna lie to you, man, I was in a real low place, ’cause I’ve never had this game taken from me. So that was tough just sitting on the sideline, not being out there, not practicing with my brothers,” he said. “Just to go out there and practice today, man, I was like a little kid. You never take things for granted that you love when you do get those things taken away. It makes you look at it a little bit different.”
To his teammates, he is the Energizer Bunny.
“He’s going out there with his hair on fire,” Bennett Jackson said. “If anybody else’s energy level isn’t up to his, he’s making them raise the bar, which is great. You need guys like that on the team.”
He is the Mouth That Roars.
“He’s gonna make how he feels known. He’s not afraid to speak his mind,” Jordan Jenkins said.
He is a Pro Bowl trash talker.
“Gotta be one in the best league right now,” Brandon Copeland said. “He’s talking trash and getting other people’s sidelines mad and all that type of stuff. It’s not a personal thing with him, it’s just more of a love for the game, just having fun out there.”
Adams’ pregame message never wavers.
“He always says one thing: ‘Match my intensity,’ ” McLendon said. “He says it every time we step on the field. ‘Match my intensity.’ ”
Few can, of course. But you don’t become a Pro Bowler in your second and third years on passion alone.
It’s God-given athletic ability.
“He’s got the size, he’s got the burst, he’s got the speed,” Jackson said. “He’s got all the attributes to be a great player. I feel like with some guys, you just gotta piece the mental and the physical together; he’s got it.”
He’s got everything but the interception totals (two career picks) he wants. But he has 6.5 sacks and vows to break former safety Adrian Wilson’s single-season record (eight).
It’s confidence borne of preparation. It’s swagger.
“He took a chance on [Leonard] Fournette and shot the gap,” Jenkins recalled. “It wasn’t his responsibility, but he lives by it and dies by it, that’s his style of play, he’s gonna take risks and a lot of times for him the reward is worth the risk. He’s a playmaker. He gets football.”
It’s playing the game the way it’s meant to be played.
“He loves contact,” Jenkins said. “Some guys that are great cover safety guys, they can cover well, don’t like to come up and tackle. He’s not a gator tackler, he’s punishing guys.”
It’s anticipation and instincts.
“One is obviously a God-given talent and instinct for the game and instinct for being in the right place at the right time and taking his shots and all that type of stuff,” Copeland said. “And then two, he has a passion for this sport that you don’t see too many players have.”
Oh yes, it’s passion.
“It’s just what I do, man,” Adams said. “It’s my first love at a young age. I’m from a football family, always been around the game, loved it since Day 1. It’s my love and passion, it’s part of my life, it’s not my life, but it is part of it.
It’s hating to lose to the bitter end of a 5-9 season.
“It’s two playoff games for us,” Adams said. “We don’t go out there to lose ballgames, no matter the record. People say we might as well tank. Nah, to hell with that. We’re going out there to win.Everybody in the building’s treating these like two playoff games. We’re out for war. It’s gonna be fun. The atmosphere is gonna be fun, I know they’re gonna bring a lot of fans, so we’re looking forward to it.”
Adams said he wants to remain a Jet. He expected to make the Pro Bowl, and will every year.
“I love to be here obviously, I love to be a part of this organization,” Adams said. “It’s my calling. These guys drafted me, and I’m here playing football, doing something that I love to do. They made my dream come true so I always give back and will always continue to be me. I’m never gonna change.”
He is proud to represent the Jets, and New York. Show him the money when the time comes.
“I would never let him go,” McLendon said, “put it like that.”
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