With friends and teammates, he’s known for his humor – but he’s absolutely serious when it comes to matters of integrity, effort and playing to win
The first time Anthony Adams took part in a football practice, it happened only because his mother drove him there, dropped him off, and drove away.
“I was a little bit upset about it,” Anthony recalled of his early days at Martin Luther King High School in Detroit. “Then the team gatheredtogether for jumping jacks and stretching, with the seniors who were the team leaders in charge. I thought ‘I like this camaraderie; I like how this feels.’”
Anthony, who retired in early 2013 after a decade-long NFL career with the San Francisco 49ers and then with the Chicago Bears, admitted to himself that his mother knew what she was doing – and it wasn’t the first time. His whole young life, his mother had been making the best choices to help her only child grow and thrive. She even matched Anthony up with his wife, Andenika, who was the daughter of Anthony’s mother’s best friend. They started dating in college; now they have a long marriage and four children.
When Anthony was just four years old, his father was committed to prison; after that, his mother raised him on her own. “It wasn’t something I was ashamed of. I just saw it as he had made some bad decisions and was paying the price,” he said.
Despite his father’s incarceration, Anthony did not suffer from a lack of father figures. He points to his maternal grandfather as one of the strongest forces in his life. Anthony’s grandfather lived long enough to see his grandson develop into a successful professional football player, a journey he traces back to his early acceptance to Penn State University.
What made him appealing to a coach, Anthony said, was not only his athleticism but his willingness to follow instructions. “Someone back then gave me this advice: ‘Do every drill as hard as you can.’ So I always did. I always made sure I was first. If the coach needed for someone to demonstrate, I volunteered.”
As a Penn State football player coached by the legendary Joe Paterno, Anthony benefited from the coach’s holistic approach to the sport, in which each player was expected to be not only a superlative athlete but a model citizen and a top-drawer student as well. “When my teammates and I first arrived on campus, they laid down all these rules for us,” Anthony recalled. “It felt like punishment. But really soon you realize that you’re lucky to have someone looking out for you.”
Because of his unwavering devotion to his college coach, the allegations against Paterno’s coaching staff have been nothing short of heartbreaking to Anthony. Still, he will always separate the horrific deeds of Sanduskyfrom the actions of Joe Paterno, and he maintains his loyalty to his revered coach. “Coach Paterno was a great role model in my life and raised me to become a man,” he stated simply.
Throughout his years of football, Anthony was known not only as a fine athlete but as someone who could be counted on to be a lot of fun. But it wasn’t only merriment for which his peers respected him. Anthony was the 2010 winner of The Ed Block Courage Award, an annual award in which NFL players are identified by their teammates as role models of inspiration, sportsmanship, and courage. One of the reasons his teammates gave him this honor was the grace and fortitude Anthony showed when his mother’s sister and his grandfather died within days of each other that year. Grieved as he was, Anthony managed to attend both funerals and still play two pre-season games that same week.
Anthony became a free agent after his last season with the Bears and announced his retirement in 2013. Now that his days of playing are over, one of his main causes is Youthville (www.youthvilledetroit.org), a Detroit organization providing mentorship and opportunity for inner city children and teens. He has also designed a line of t-shirts which are sold online atwww.spiceadams.spreadshirt.comto raise money for the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (www.pcar.org), which combats sexual violence and advocates for victims, and he has furthered his education through the executive master’s program at George Washington University. These days, though, he’s perhaps best known for a series of hilarious satirical videos about the life of a free agent that he posted on YouTube.
“I don’t know what’s next,” said Anthony, looking to the future with a characteristic mix of wonder, curiosity and humor. “Maybe I’ll perform at [comedy troupe] Second City. I just don’t know.”
And indeed, whether past and future fans see him become a comedy star, a business entrepreneur, or both, there’s no question that Anthony’s unflagging optimism, belief in his own and other people’s potential, and overall joy in the world around him make him a valued member of the Insightful Player® team.
Instant replay of Anthony Adams’s guiding principles:
- Take responsibility for who you are and who you can become. Regardless of how disadvantaged you are, don’t use your circumstances as a crutch.
- Listen to and follow good advice. Look for leaders and mentors wherever they might emerge, and be ready to gain from whatever wisdom they can offer.
- Serve others as a leader and mentor also. Make your example something for them to learn from and live by.
- Always put everything you’ve got into every opportunity. Step forward; raise your hand; make it known that you are willing and able to make the extra effort.
- Carry yourself such that you are an honor to your team, your family, or whatever group you might have the chance to represent.
- Respect your parents and other older role models, and understand when they are trying to do what is best for you, regardless of whether you like it or not.
- Demonstrate to those around you that you care about them and want to be part of a team effort.
- Have fun. Football is difficult and life can be difficult, but an enthusiastic spirit and a sense of humor can make it all a lot more enjoyable.
The Insightful Player® series is brought to you by Coach Chrissy Carew, Hall of Fame Master Certified Personal and Business Coach and Author of her book,INSIGHTFUL PLAYER: Football Pros Lead A Bold Movement of Hope. Chrissy has been deeply inspired by her father, the late Coach Walter Carew, Sr. Her father is in several Halls of Fame as a high school football coach and baseball coach (as well as high school and college athlete). He used sports to help kids build strong character and teach them valuable life skills. The Insightful Player® initiative was created to help make our world a much better place by inspiring youth. To contact Chrissy Carew visit http://www.insightfulplayer.com or call 603-897-0610.
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