Not long after the Seahawks' Sunday night game at Pittsburgh was underway, social media was abuzz over Jamal Adams' introduction during the broadcast.
As NBC showed Seattle's starting defense, Adams didn't introduce himself as "Jamal Adams, LSU" or something similar, but instead said, "Jamal Adams, I'm the best in the nation," with a high-pitched emphasis on the word "nation."
Not long after, people took to Twitter and other forms of social media to ridicule Adams for his seemingly boastful comment, but it turns out there was more to the story.
Back in 2008, Trabis Ward, then a football recruit out of Dillard High School in Fort Lauderdale, jokingly declared in a video interview, “I’m the best in the nation!” That clip eventually went viral, and recently was shared with Adams in a group chat with some friends.
Unfortunately, Ward, who went on to play at Tennessee State, was shot and killed last year at the age of 31, leaving behind three children. While Adams didn't realize his tribute to Ward happened to come almost exactly a year after his death, the introduction was most definitely a nod to Ward, and not case of Adams' ego getting the best of him.
"It was a viral video that's been around for a long time," Adams said. "One of my boys sent it to me in a group message, and I just happened to have my Sunday Night Football intro that I needed to do, and I gave him some love, rest in peace to him."
And while knowing the back story might make some of those shots people took at Adams look bad, he isn't interested in making anyone eat crow.
"I'm not looking for the apologies, I don't need it," Adams said. "I'm a grown man. I don't care about the memes and social media, I don't get into that."
A big reason people were quick to pile on Adams is that, statistically speaking, he isn't off to his best start this season. After recording 9.5 sacks last year, an NFL record for defensive backs, he has none this year, and while he has done a lot of things well, he has been on the wrong end of a couple of big plays, including two in a Week 5 loss to the Rams that happened on consecutive Rams possessions. First, there was a 68-yard completion to DeSean Jackson on which Adams was in position to make a play, but didn't adjust to the underthrown deep ball, and not long after Adams was beat by tight end Tyler Higbee for a 13-yard touchdown.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll isn't worried about Adams, both because he has seen plenty of good plays between those missed opportunities, and also because of the type of competitor Adams is.
"He's a tightly-wound, high-strung guy, and he wants things to happen and he wants to make it happen, and he's just as disappointed when the thing doesn't happen the way it's supposed to, the way we want it to, as anybody else," Carroll said. "He's doing everything he can in his power to make it work. He's a great competitor, he's truly a great competitor, it really matters to him how you do things and how he how he does his stuff and how he can be held accountable for the club and all that. He's got his head in the right place."
Adams spent more time near the line of scrimmage last week and blitzed more often than he had earlier in the season, and while that was in part just a matter of game plans, Carroll also said Adams missing training camp while seeking a new contract "slowed down the process" of getting Adams fully involved in the defense, and added, "We're no longer in that mode, he's ready to do whatever we can think of, and he's excited to do that… What's best for him is to do everything."
Adams can admit when he doesn't make a play, such as those aforementioned plays against the Rams, or the potential overtime interception he didn't make, saying, "It didn't happen. Got another opportunity… When my number is called, I've got to come through."
But what Adams isn't doing is worrying about any criticism about his play so far this season.
"I don't get caught up in all of that," he said. "I'm blessed man I'm 26, doing what I love to do. I come to work each and every day, I'm happy, my mom's happy, my father's happy, everybody back home is happy, so I have nothing to complain about.
"I'll be honest with you, I'm not here to prove anything to anybody. I'm here to prove myself right. I'm grateful to continue to play this game at a high level, I don't get caught up in the outside noise, I don't get caught up on mistakes, because at the end of the day we are human, we make mistakes, but hey, the good thing is I've got another opportunity to make up for it."
Perhaps last week was a sign of what's to come for Adams in terms of more pass-rushing opportunities and lining up around the line of scrimmage more often, but regardless of how the Seahawks decide to use him going forward, Adams' goal is the same now as it has always been.
"At the end of the day, the ultimate goal is to get a win, and we haven't been winning," he said. "I don't care what I do, as long as we win, that's all that matters."
The Seahawks face the Saints for Week 5 of the 2022 season at the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans. Take a look back at photos from the past games between the two teams.