By Neil Hayes
Bears' defensive end Gaines Adams died this morning after he was taken to the emergency room at Self Regional Hospital in Greenwood, S.C., according to the Greenville News in South Carolina and the NBC affiliate there. Adams was 26.
It remains unclear how Adams died. But several reports have indicated that he may have suffered a heart attack. An autopsy is expected.
"He was a great kid, a hard worker who always had a smile on his face," former Buccaneers coach and current "Monday Night Football" broadcaster Jon Gruden told the Sun-Times. "I don't know anybody who didn't like Gaines Adams. He was a great teammate, just a stand-up guy, a class act."
Adams was an All-American at Clemson before the Buccaneers made him the fourth overall pick in the 2007 draft. He led all rookies with six sacks during his rookie season. The Bears' traded a second-round draft pick in the 2010 draft to the Buccaneers for Adams in October.
He saw only limited action this past season but was expected to play a big role for the Bears in 2010.
"I talked to Gaines a couple weeks ago," Gruden said. "I was telling him about [Bears' defensive line coach Rod Marinelli] and he was very excited to get a fresh start and I know Rod was very excited about working with him this offseason. They had big plans for him. You would've liked Gaines. Everybody who knew Gaines like Gaines. This is a tragic loss for us all."
Greenwood County Coroner James T. Coursey said Adams appeared to be in perfect health. The Greenwood Sheriff's Office and the Greenwood County Coroner's Office is expected to investigate.