The most recent Sunday Night Football matchup featured the Russell Wilson-less Seahawks taking on the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. The game itself was nothing special as the Steelers managed to squeak by the injury-riddled Seahawks 23-20 in overtime. Aside from the weird fumble play that happened at the end of regulation and the madness that ensued, the most talked about moment from that game was the Jamal Adams intro, which saw the former No. 6 overall pick declare himself “The Best in the Nation.”
This intro created quite the controversy on Twitter. While some people believe Adams has earned the right to call himself the best, what with an All-Pro selection in 2019, three Pro Bowl nods, and a four-year, $70 million extension signed this offseason, others found it cringeworthy that someone whose PFF rank — which places him 62nd of 85 qualified NFL safeties — would think so highly of himself. Even if Adams were ranked at the top, his egotistical utterance would just be viewed as cocky, boisterous, and narcissistic by a handful of NFL fans. However, Adams wasn’t calling himself the best in the nation on Sunday night. He was paying tribute to Trabis Ward.
Ward died on October 10, 2020 — almost exactly one year prior to the October 17 Seahawks-Steelers game — as a result of a shooting in Lauderdale Lakes. Ward was 31 years old and a father of three.
Ward was also a former football star at Tennessee State University. In his four years with the Tigers (2009-2012), Ward amassed 564 carries for 2581 yards (4.58 yards per carry) and 26 touchdowns. He missed the entire 2010 season due to injury. But how exactly is Adams saying “I’m the best in the nation” a tribute to Ward? Well, in 2008, Ward, then a junior at Dillard High School in Fort Lauderdale, offered up this fun interview during a 7-on-7 tournament:
The way Ward says “I’m the best in the nation” (0:53 in the video) is the same exact way that Jamal Adams says it in his SNF intro.
Adams has not come forward and confirmed that his intro on Sunday was a tribute to Ward, but Adams did share an Instagram post from MaxPreps detailing the Ward situation.
Honestly, I respect Adams far more for not explaining the situation. After receiving tons of backlash for supposedly calling himself “the best safety in the NFL”, it would have made sense for Adams to come forward and explain the situation. Instead, Adams just sat back, let the hate come to him, and let the fans put the pieces together on their own.
It has made some fans take back the harsh words they had regarding the Seahawks’ safety.
It’s made others appreciate the Adams intro after initially despising it, and while there may have been some boastful intent behind it — Adams is known for being a fairly confident player, after all — the tribute behind the words far outweighs any egocentric means that may or may not have been there. Adams let all the hate hit him on social media. He didn’t back down and explain himself, because he knew that what he was doing was bigger than him or any disgruntled NFL fans on Twitter.
Mad respect, Prez. Mad respect.