A preliminary autopsy Sunday indicated Adams died of cardiac arrest caused by an enlarged heart, Coursey said. The 6-foot-5, 258-pound end for the Bears was pronounced dead shortly after 8 AM at Self Regional Hospital, where he had been taken to the emergency room.
"We are stunned and saddened by the news of Gaines' passing," a statement from the Chicago Bears said." Our prayers are with his family during this difficult time."
"What 26-year-old dies suddenly?" a shocked defensive end teammate Alex Brown asked. "It was very unfortunate he had to leave us so soon."
"He was a great kid, a hard worker who always had a smile on his face,” former Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden told the Chicago Sun-Times. “I don’t know anybody who didn’t like Gaines Adams.”
Although he had limited playing time with the Bears this season, Gruden told the Sun-Times the Chicago coaching staff looked forward to working with Adams in the off season.
"They had big plans for him," Gruden told the paper. "Everybody who knew Gaines like Gaines. This is a tragic loss for us all.”
In October, Adams was traded to the Bears from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In 2008, he led the Bucs with a career-high 6.5 sacks and started every game at defensive end. He was the fourth player chosen in the 2007 National Football League draft.
"I remember him at the 2007 Draft as a fine young man," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. "Our condolences to Gaines' family, his teammates on the Bears and Buccaneers, and their organizations on their loss."
Adams was a college all-American at Clemson University, where he had 28 career sacks. He was born on June 8, 1983 in Greenwood, South Carolina.
His death remains under investigation by the Greenwood County Coroner's Office and the Greenwood County Sheriff's office.