Chicago Bears defensive end Gaines Adams passed away this morning at 8:21 a.m. EST, at the young age of 26, due to cardiac arrest caused by an enlarged heart.
His untimely death was tragic and sudden, and teammates were swept up in a mixture of surprise and grief.
"Life is too short," one veteran Chicago teammate said. "He was a great guy. Maybe a little quiet, but a good guy."
"It's crazy," Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher said. "I didn't know him that well because he came in during the middle of the season. But I did know him. I still saw him every day when I went into work. It's just weird."
"I had a teammate die when I was in college. You just don't know how to handle it. It's just sad, man. It's a bad deal."
Adams, who was taken with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft by Tampa Bay, was traded to Chicago five games into the 2009 season for a second-rounder in the 2010 Draft.
"I remember him at the 2007 Draft as a fine young man," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. "Our condolences to Gaines' family, his teammates on the Bears and Buccaneers, and their organizations on their loss."
The powerful and explosive sack factory, Adams attended Clemson University. In his senior year, Adams appeared on all five official All-America teams, becoming one of seven unanimous All-Americans for 2006. He also received ACC Defensive Player of the Year honors.
He will probably be best remembered by Tigers fans for tying the school record with 28 career sacks and returning a blocked field goalfor a touchdown in 2006 to defeat Wake Forest.
At the end of the 2007 season Adams had 35 tackles, 6 sacks and 2 forced fumbles in 2007, he led all 2007 rookies with his six sacks. This performance gained him a place in the 2007 NFL All-Rookie team.
He finished his 2008 campaign with similar stats, but many Buccaneers fans considered him a disappointment, due to lofty expectations coming with his high draft status.
This morning, his girlfriend found him in his home and called 911 at around 7 a.m. Adams did not have any previous medical issues.
The Bears issued a statement Sunday afternoon, saying, "We are stunned and saddened by the news of Gaines' passing. Our prayers are with his family during this difficult time." Chicago will not receive any
Gaines's former head coaches also had things to say about this talented young man.
Raheem Morris, who in the preseason labeled Adams as a "bust" if he couldn't reach double digits in sacks, called him "a true team player and a positive influence to everyone he met. My prayers go out to his family."
Former Clemson Tigers coach Terry Bowden"I just couldn't believe it was Gaines," Bowden said. "I will always remember the smile he had on his face and I will always remember his patience."
Current ESPN analyst and former Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden, who drafted Adams, had this to say: "Today is a tragic day. Gaines was an impressive kid with such a tremendous future in front of him. He was a great teammate and well-liked by our coaches and all those who had the opportunity to be around him in Tampa."
However he performed in his brief NFL days, Gaines Adams will be remembered as a powerful player and a charming young man whose days were cut far too short.