Jamal Adams (with Roger Goodell) said there’s nothing better than the game of football. (Seth Wenig/AP)

New York Jets rookie safety Jamal Adams drew applause from some in a crowd of about 150 season ticket holders when he answered a question about head injuries and player safety in the NFL by saying, “Literally, if I had a perfect place to die, I would die on the field and that’s not a lie.”

It was an answer long on passion for the game, short on situational awareness about an issue critical to the NFL’s future.

The controversial topic of conversation was chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease caused by repetitive or severe blows to the head. NFL players are particularly susceptible and Adams was asked about making the game of football safer to lessen the chances of CTE later in life. With his 22nd birthday still months away, his answer reflected the sense of invincibility common among 21-year-olds.

“I’m all about making the game safer, but as a defensive player, I’m not a big fan of it. But I get it. I can speak for a lot of guys that play the game. We live and breathe. This is what we’re so passionate about,” he said (via NJ.com). “Literally, if I had a perfect place to die, I would die on the field and that’s not a lie. There’s so much sacrifice that we go through as a team, and just connecting as one and winning ballgames. There’s nothing like playing the game of football. But again, I’m all about making the game safer.”

Still, there was some discomfort over his statement and the reaction by some fans. After the forum, Commissioner Roger Goodell — who had been seated by Adams during the panel — was asked to clarify what the rookie meant.

“What I think he was really making the point of is how much he loves the game and how passionate he is for the game,” Goodell said (via the New York Daily News). “He loves playing it, and it’s just something that means a great deal to him, and I get the emotion of that.”

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