Ex-wife of late Justin Strzelczyk: Jamal Adams has no idea about CTE

ByESPN.com news services via ESPN logo
Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The former wife of late Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman Justin Strzelczyk criticized comments made by New York Jets rookie Jamal Adams that were interpreted as insensitive about the degenerative brain disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

"I don't even know what to say. This guy [Adams] doesn't know what's coming down the pipeline. He has no idea what dealing with someone who has CTE is like," Keana McMahon told the New York Daily News.

McMahon, who was married to Strzelczyk for eight years, said Strzelczyk suffered from mood swings and volatile behavior. In September 2004, nine months after they divorced, Strzelczyk died in a fiery head-on collision with a tanker truck after he led state troopers on a 40-mile highway chase in New York.

When asked about player-safety rules and CTE during a Jets fan forum on Monday, Adams said, "Literally, if I had the perfect place to die, I'd die on the field."

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who was sitting next to Adams, said afterward that the rookie's comments were more about his affinity for the game.

"I think what he was really making the point of is how much he loved the game and how passionate he is about the game," Goodell told reporters. "It's just something that means a great deal to him. I get the emotion of that."

Green Bay Packers tight end Martellus Bennetttweeted that players "need to find a higher purpose in life."

He followed up that tweet with another: "Look football is great but I ain't dying for this s---. Lol."

Goodell defended the league's efforts to improve player safety, adding that it hopes to improve helmets and pour more money into brain-trauma research.

Thomas Demetrio, a lawyer who represents the family of the late NFL player Dave Duerson, said that Adams' comments send the wrong message to kids.

Duerson, who played safety for the Chicago Bears and the New York Giants, died of a self-inflicted gunshot in 2011. He was diagnosed with CTE after his death.

"Unfortunately these players don't die on the playing field in a sudden-death fashion," Demetrio said. "They die a horrible death later in life and, leading up to, in many cases, suicide. This is not a badge of honor for the gladiator who played 13 years in the NFL or two weeks. It's a real problem. The macho, tough-guy mentality has to change."

ESPN's Rich Cimini and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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