Gaines Adams, the 26-year-old defensive end for the Chicago Bears died suddenly and unexpectedly on Sunday, reportedly from cardiac arrest stemming from an enlarged heart. Adams spent the majority of his three-year NFL career as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer, and his former teammates and co-workers were shocked and saddened by Sunday's news.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Gaines Adams during this sad day," said Buccaneers Co-Chairman Joel Glazer. "It is a tragedy to lose someone at such a young age and our entire organization is deeply saddened by this news."
Added General Manager Mark Dominik: "Gaines was a part of the Buccaneer family and this is a tragic loss. Everyone who met Gaines came away knowing what a great young man that he was."
The Buccaneers selected Adams with the fourth overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft. The pass-rushing end out of Clemson was the first defensive player chosen in that year's draft. Adams appeared in all 32 games for the Buccaneers in 2007 and 2008, starting 24 and recording 12.5 sacks, 110 tackles and two interceptions.
Tampa Bay traded Adams to the Bears five games into the 2009 season in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2010 draft. Before the trade, Adams started five games for the Buccaneers and contributed 14 tackles, one sack, two passes defensed and one fumble recovery.
Several other Buccaneers reacted to Adams' untimely passing on Sunday:
Head Coach Raheem Morris:
"Gaines will be missed by all of us, especially by his teammates in our locker room. He was a true team player and a positive influence to everyone he met. My prayers go out to his family."
Cornerback Ronde Barber:
"Gaines was a quiet, humble kid and is far too young to be gone. He had so much potential that had yet to be achieved and I am very sad that the full extent of his life won't be realized."
Defensive Tackle Chris Hovan:
"Today is a very tragic day for Gaines' family, friends and teammates. I still don't want to believe that it is true. I am deeply saddened that we have lost someone who I considered a friend for life. When he came to Tampa I took Gaines under my wing; I considered him my little brother and that's how I will always remember him. This is all so unreal and it hasn't really hit me yet."
Buccaneers Defensive End Jimmy Wilkerson:
"I will always remember Gaines as someone who was fun to be around. He was definitely a people person, a very friendly guy. He was taken far too soon from us and he will surely be missed. I know that God has a plan for everyone and all that we can do is extend our thoughts and prayers to the Adams family during this difficult time."