Yesterday, a jury of 12 found the three men accused of stabbing Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle Mike Adams, during a South Side altercation on an early June morning last year, not guilty of the most serious charges brought against them. The knife wound left Adams hospitalized for four days following the incident.
The not guilty verdict in no way indicts Adams of any legal wrongdoing of any sort. According to a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review article written by Adam Brandolph, in fact, “none of the lawyers had anything negative to say on Wednesday about Adams, who did not appear in court after testifying last week”.
Adams was unquestionably the victim of an attack. His four-day hospital visit, gaping abdominal wound, and admission from one defendant that he punched Adams, attest to that well enough.
While he seemingly faces no risk of falling into legal trouble due to this incident, however, might it nevertheless be damaging to his reputation?
You might recall that Adams was not even considered a draftable candidate leading up to the 2012 draft after testing positive for marijuana at the Combine.
It took a personal visit and plea to convince the Steelers to put him back on their board, and after he was drafted, it was with stipulations and guidelines for personal conduct.
Indeed, part of the defense’s argument was that Adams was coerced into lying to investigators after the initial incident regarding what exactly happened because he was already on “thin ice” and worried about his status with the team.
As a result, the defense says, Adams changed his story multiple times, initially claiming to have been stabbed during a fight. He later claimed that he had a gun to his face as part of an attempted carjacking, but finally said that one of the attackers merely showed him the gun but did not draw the weapon.
Adams was also significantly intoxicated during the time of the incident. This is surely something that the organization must have been aware of at the time, and thus if it was a major issue now, it would have been a major issue then.
Still, a blood alcohol level of 0.185 is no laughing matter, which led the defense to question his ability to provide a reliable account of the events of that night.
With reports now that Adams actually helped instigate the confrontation, first by bumping into one of the defendants and knocking his food out of his hands, and then later reportedly asking the defendants to hit him and asking if they knew who he was, perhaps it would be understandable if Adams was hesitant to give a full account.
On the field, it’s no state secret that Adams has struggled, being benched from the starting lineup and being demoted to rotational tight end duty. When players struggle, particularly highly drafted players, it makes them ripe for derision from the fan base.
At the same time, however, there is the fact that he was ultimately the victim, and likely learned quite a lesson from that night. The incident is also nearly a year in his past, and he’s done nothing but look ahead since then, at least as far as we know.
Adams no doubt showed questionable judgment not only in his alleged behavior that night (in spite of the fact that he reportedly was not planning to drive home on his own), but also for putting himself in that vulnerable position. But youthful indiscretions can be looked past. Will that be the case for Adams?
Ultimately, I believe it will be. Though nobody comes out looking good from that incident, I believe the general public is understanding of the position that he was in and are sympathetic to the fact that it’s behind him now.
Likewise, the organization has done nothing to indicate that they are displeased with Adams’ behavior or that they’ve tightened his leash in any way since then. As long as he continues to trend upward both on and off the field, I think he should be entitled to the benefit of the doubt in the court of public opinion, and with respect to organizational attitude, moving forward.