Mike Adams cleared his throat and walked to the front of the meeting room.
All eyes on him, as they have been for 16 years as an NFL player, the most unlikely of North Jersey long shots that made the league despite being announced he would never play again because of from a hip injury while serving as a star captain at the University of Delaware.
The man nicknamed “Pops” as a child by his grandmother for his love of spinach à la Popeye never had a problem when his teammates looked in his direction
Not at Passaic Tech in high school. Not in Delaware. Not with the pros.
But this time? It was different.
Adams was still comfortable on this stage, but not in his new role as “Coach Pops”.
In his new job as an assistant defensive back for the Chicago Bears, Adams was essentially an NFL rookie, and he was feeling nerves.
“My voice was breaking when I started giving my presentation to the team, and I was like, ‘Come together, you played in a Super Bowl, why are you nervous,'” Adams recalled earlier. this week for NorthJersey.com and USA Network TODAY. “I didn’t know anything about Power Point or Excel. I’ve been playing in the NFL for 16 years, always had my assistant to help me. Now I had to do assessments and I could barely type. have a lot to teach, but I also have a lot to learn. “
Adams played with Tashaun Gipson in Houston, and now he’s coaching him.
“The transition is wild, man,” said Adams, 40. He was at home in New Jersey when he announced his retirement from the NFL after 16 seasons on March 2.
“The week before the pandemic blew up the world of sports,” Adams added. “Talk about the weather. “
The next chapter
Adams called the league and asked for advice on what his next step should be. His desire was to work on the staff side, and he wasn’t sure he wanted to become a coach.
Among the coaches he contacted: John Fox, his head coach with the Broncos; and Chuck Pagano, his head coach with the Colts.
Among the leaders of the league: Bears general manager Ryan Pace, Browns general manager Andrew Berry and Colts general manager Chris Ballard.
“I knew I wanted to do something and get back into the NFL,” Adams said. “I like the game and I didn’t want to stay at home. It was time for the next chapter.
While Fox was sort of his advisor, Adams said it was Pagano who gave him the best tip once the decision was made to join Matt Nagy’s team in Chicago.
Adams, Nagy and Chiefs general manager Brett Veach were teammates in Delaware
“Chuck gave me the best advice: always start strong with the players because you can always relax,” Adams said. “If you start off slow with them, the guys will take advantage of you.” “
Maximize working days
Adams made the decision to retire from the NFL, but in reality, as in many cases, the NFL essentially withdrew him. He hasn’t lost the urge to play, so when the Bears held their mini rookie camp in May and needed a few more players for the drills, Adams donned a training jersey and hopped off. inside.
“I only have one year of withdrawal,” Adams said. “But I don’t know if the urge to play ever leaves you.”
Adams took responsibility for the Bears. He’s responsible for analyzing the opponent’s first and second tendencies, from quarterback to wide receivers and everything in the offensive.
His presentation to defensive backs and the entire defense usually takes place on Wednesday morning. On game day, Adams is in the booth with a global view, and his responsibilities include relaying what he sees from above to coaches on the sidelines.
“Coaching is a lot of work,” Adams said with a laugh. “And I felt the difference very early on between losing as a coach and losing as a player. When I lost as a player, I didn’t want to talk to anyone. All you personally put into it is team play. As a coach, it’s just me giving information, making sure I’m ready, making sure my players are ready and making sure they’re ready. You give them all the information, but it’s the players on the pitch who have to execute. And when they don’t, as a coach it’s on your mind, “Dude, what did I do wrong?”
“I don’t think the job is ever done as a coach, and I’m still a rookie. I still have a lot to learn, and I’m determined to be the best I can be for my team. It was me ever since. 16 years old [as a player]. My job has changed, but that will never change. They can just call me Coach Pops now.
Art Stapleton is the Giants’ Beat Writer for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to all Giants analysis, news, transactions and more, please sign up today and sign up for our NFC East newsletter.
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