By Vincent Fodera @Fodera80
What a mess this team has found itself in again. How did we get to this point, how did things devolve so much, so quickly? Who’s at fault here? Unfortunately for Jets fans, Jamal Adams' situation feels infuriatingly familiar. This is nothing new, nothing we’re not used to, and yet the pain and exasperation persist. Same [bleep], different day. Jets fans have lived through so much pain in recent years, we’ve traded defensive superstars like Darrelle Revis, we’ve dealt with diva WRs like Santonio Holmes, we’ve been nationally embarrassed with butt fumbles- so why does this Adams debacle sting so much more? We’ve taken all our lumps in stride our entire lives, chalked it up to “Same Old Jets”, and went on with our days. So why is the average Jet fan having so much difficulty doing the same with Jamal Adams? In short, I believe that it’s because our apathy has run dry. The Jet fan is changing, they’re no longer willing to sit numb to the pain. The drafting of a potential savior in Sam Darnold and what looked to be a superstar face of the franchise in Jamal Adams revitalized what had been an emotionally detached fanbase scorned by years of mediocre on-field play, front office blunders, and off-field circuses.
To answer the question of why this is all happening, we have to look at both sides- Jamal Adams and the New York Jets' front office. This situation has been brewing since last Fall’s trade deadline when Adams was insulted by the fact that General Manager Joe Douglas fielded offers for the Safety. Adams and Douglas convened after that where it was believed that Douglas reassured Adams that he didn't want to trade him, but that he wouldn't be doing his job properly if he hadn't at least listened. According to reports, the hatchet was buried and the two men were on the same page. Adams has been vocal about wanting a contract extension since the beginning of Winter, as has Joe Douglas who’s publicly stated a desire to keep Adams in New York for life. According to Adams, Douglas had promised he’d put together an offer at the beginning of the offseason. Free Agency and the draft passed, and yet still no offer. This is the heart of Jamal Adams’ discontent with the franchise. Adams feels insulted yet again and that he was lied to by the front office. Consequently, Adams has requested a trade and has made those requests public on social media. From the outside looking in, it would appear that Adams has a point here and maybe justified in his request. However, there is also the Jets' side of the story to contemplate.
While Joe Douglas has made it public that he wants Jamal Adams to be a Jet for life, and he may have even promised Adams an offer earlier in the year- two things remain: A. Running a football team is still a business. And B. Things change over time. The facts of the matter are that Jamal Adams still has two years remaining on his rookie deal. He has no leverage and the Jets are not running out time to work something out before losing him to Free Agency. Additionally, this verbal promise Douglas may have made to Adams was before the entire planet became embroiled in a once in a century international pandemic leading to an economic disaster. There remains a very real possibility that football may not be played this Fall if a second wave hits, thus the NFL stands to lose billions of dollars in Revenue and many teams may face liquidity issues. It would be financially reckless of Joe Douglas to make a big-time offer to Jamal Adams with that level of uncertainty clouding the future. Ignoring the fact that a verbal promise holds no weight in real life, the entire value of such a promise is negated when the surrounding circumstances have changed so drastically.
I’ve been following this team for a long time, I’m usually the first to curse the Front Office and side with the players with these kinds of disputes. However, when I look at the whole set of circumstances I find it near impossible to side with Adams in this situation. Between the tone-deaf non-willingness to understand the financial effects of the pandemic and the incessant and immature whining on social media, Jamal Adams has turned heel faster than any player I can remember and this fanbase has not been shy to call him out on it.
The thing that makes the Adams situation sting so much more is remembering what he once was. Not too long ago, he was a bonafide fan-favorite. He was a leader, he made Jets fans believe in him. He promised to change the organizational culture. He made it sound like he really, authentically loved Jets fans and being a Jet. For a person like that to just turn around and dump the team just like that, it feels personal. Fans don’t treat the team as a business, they treat it like a passion. The business of football lies between the players and the front office as well as the league and its sponsors. Sure fans are technically “customers” but we care about our teams and players much more than we care about any other business we may be a customer of. When a player like Jamal Adams makes such a personal connection with fans and then turns around and treats them like they meant nothing, it’s hurtful. And when people feel hurt, especially New Yorkers, they get angry and mean and vitriolic. It’s honestly very sad that Jamal Adams let things get to this point, and I don't personally believe his relationship with the fans can ever be fully repaired. Joe Douglas holds all the cards right now, and if I were him I’d be much more inclined to trade Adams for a haul and surround Sam Darnold with his own personal army. Adams has made it clear that he can’t serve as the face of this franchise any longer. This team lives and dies with Sam Darnold’s development.