Reaction to death of Gaines Adams: "Words can't describe how sad I am.''
Bucs fans remember Gaines Adams as a former fourth overall draft pick who failed to reach his promise as a dominating defensive end.
But teammates and coaches remember Adams as a soft-spoken man with a bright smile and kind nature.
"Man this hurts,'' former Bucs linebacker Derrick Brooks said. "I just looked on the computer and saw this. I talked to him a few weeks ago and he seemed to be handling himself okay. He still was disappointed about trade (to Chicago) but was trying to move forward with Bears.
"Wow. Man, words can't describe how sad I am right now.''
Adams, who was traded to the Bears in Oct. in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2010 draft, died early Sunday morning in Greenwood, S.C., at 26.
Greenwood County coroner Jim Coursey told WYFF-TV that Adams was pronounced dead at Self Regional Hospital. He also told the station that Adams appeared to be in good health before his passing
ESPN.com reported that Adams may have had an enlarged heart. autopsy was scheduled for Sunday. Adams was the fourth overall selection in the 2007 draft by the Bucs.
Brooks said there was too much focus on Adams' lack of production as a football player and not enough on his promise as a man.
"To take you back, most people, when look at Gaines, they automatically remember and talk about what he didn't do in terms of football,'' Brooks said. "That's kind of sad, especially when you think about what's going on today.
"Clearly, he was much more than that to me. That's basically what I tried to help him do, some into the NFL, learn how to be a pro and to become a better man. He had plenty on his plate as the fourth pick in the draft. I tried to be a constant for him.''
Brooks said Adams was in the process of setting up a foundation that was to benefit people in his native South Carolina.
"He was very much into giving back,'' Brooks said. "We talked numerous times about things he was going to do back home in S.C. in the next two or three years, we talked about how you really need to take your time and plan things out and he was starting to do that. We talked about what his foundational message was going to be and he wanted to help families back home. Hopefully, he was far enough along that now people can fdinish what he started.''
Former Clemson coach Tommy Bowden remembered Adams as a team leader who overcame a lot of adversity in his life and career.
"I remember his smile. He always had such a great personality,'' Bowden said. "In college, you do a lot of hitting and put them through two-a-days. You don't do as much hitting in the pros, but it's important in building your program. He never complained about how long we practiced, how much hitting we did in practice, whether we wore pads. It really helped us as coaches and he displayed a lot of leadership.
"Gaines overcame a lot. He played eight-man footbal in high school and overcame that. He didn't qualify out of high and had to go to prep school and overcame that. He went to college and had to redshirt and overcame that. And he graduated in four years.
"Of course, he has a great mom and dad. I remember sitting with his parents when he was thinking about coming out his junior year. He might have been a second or third round pick, or maybe even a late first rounder if he entered the draft then. He's not from a wealthy family and he could've made some money. But I sat down with his parents and he made a very educated decision to stay in school. You like to see a guy get rewarded for that and he did. He was a great ambassador for college football.''
The Chicago Bears issued a statement Sunday saying, "We are stunned and saddened by the news of Gaines’ passing. Our prayers are with his family during this difficult time.”
Adams never fulfilled his potential with the Bucs. Coach Raheem Morris said if Adams didn't post double-digit sack totals in 2009, he would be considered ' a bust.' Adams got off to a slow start, recording just one sack through three games before he was traded to the Bears.
"Obviously, it was going be hard for him,'' Brooks said. "I talked to him a.few days after the trade, when he was in Chicago. He didn't know no one. It goes back to the business side of football. It's not the information, it's the presentation of the information. Too many times the information is presented the wrong way. I told him to get over the presesntation, get over how he found out and why he was treaded,. And get used to new surroundings. He was disappointed he wasn't playing the number of plays he was used to. But the longer he was there,he accepted his role and tried to move past his time with the Bucs. He was looking forward to the off-season.''