How many playoff games did Flozell “The Hotel” Adams win as an offensive lineman for the Dallas Cowboys? How about, um, one? That’s right—one.
He’s already won two in his first season with the Pittsburgh Steelers—including the 2011 AFC Championship Game. He could also win a Super Bowl ring.
Now 35 years old, did he ever think this would happen? Only in his wildest dreams—but all the Pittsburgh Steelers do is win. It's a situation that only last year seemed like fantasy football.
Born in Chicago, Ill., he started playing football as a high school sophomore. After starring in the Big Ten Conference at Michigan State, he got drafted by the Dallas Cowboys.
He spent 12 years with the Cowboys and played in about 180 games. In 2008, Jerry Jones signed him to a six-year contract for about $42 million—$13-15 million guaranteed. He'd made five Pro Bowl teams, but Dallas cut him last year.
To say his time in “Big D” raised several flags is an understatement. He’s been notorious in Dallas and around the NFL for his altercations with players and false starts, holding and tripping infractions accumulated over the years.
He was always neck and neck with Alex Barron for the most penalized player in the NFL. Add guard Leonard Davis, and the Cowboys had three of pro football's top penalized players.
Adams once got called for tripping Justin Tuck of the New York Giants. Tuck injured his shoulder on the play and the NFL fined Flozell $12,500 big ones for causing it. "Big Flo" didn't care.
In the second New York-Dallas matchup last season, Adams had an altercation with Tuck and the Giants. At halftime, they tussled and Adams was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. The refs busted him in the act of pushing Tuck from behind after the clock expired.
His behavior in that game inspired a new rule. The “Flozell the Hotel Rule” dictates that a penalty incurred during the break will be enforced on the second-half kickoff. Those penalties were previously automatically declined.
From his left tackle position, since 2005 he’s been called for the second-most penalties in the NFL. Transitioning to right tackle in his 13th NFL season, he’s a veteran leader on the relatively young Steelers offensive line. And he's playing for a Super Bowl by the way.
“It would be cool,” he said. “That’s not a major focus of mine, I don’t care if it was in Europe, as long as I win the Super Bowl.”
Yeah, right. The main thing a veteran player works for—coaches too—is the Super Bowl. You know you can't wait, Flozell, to rub Jerry Jones' plastic surgery face into the Cowboys Stadium turf. You just won't say it—for now. I’m interested to see what you say after the Super Bowl—if the Steelers win.
Back at home in the Jerry Dome, Adams will perhaps see some of his old bosses. He won’t, however, see any of his friends on the defensive side of the ball from his days in Dallas. That’s because he didn’t have any.
According to him, the offense and the defense rarely fraternized while he was with the organization. He said he didn’t even know the names of some of the players on defense in Dallas.
To me, that’s like working in the marketing department for a major corporation, where going to lunch with the finance department is out of the question. That’s ridiculous, but it’s the culture Flozell claims festered with the Cowboys.
By all indications, former coach Wade Phillips couldn’t get Flozell out of his mind—even after Adams signed with Pittsburgh last July.
In sticking up for rookie wide receiver Dez Bryant, the Cowboys former coach waxed poetic. NFL insiders had accused Bryant of disrespecting the old-school rookie hazing tradition by refusing to carry Roy Williams’ pads.
During training camp in San Antonio last year, former players and NFL analysts weighted in on the topic. Most of them said Bryant was wrong for disrespecting the veteran—that they all had to go through hazing as rookies.
Phillips said Flozell Adams refused to do one hazing thing asked of him as a rookie. Maybe because of his immense size—the reason he’s nicknamed “The Hotel”—the veterans gave him a pass. At 6’7”, 338-pounds, most people would do whatever Adams asked.
He’s done the things asked of him for the Pittsburgh Steelers running game—especially against the New York Jets.
Flozell led the way for Rashard Mendenhall to bust out for a 35-yard scamper in the second half. Running behind Flozell for about 75 of those yards, Mendenhall stayed at the Holiday Inn—or at least following its drag blocks.
Flo’s been suspect in pass protection at times, and he knows it. After Byron Leftwich got sacked in the first preseason game, Adams got the message.
Coach Mike Tomlin appreciates his efforts. He had to keep Adams out of the AFC divisional playoff round against the Baltimore Ravens. Adams had the flu and was vomiting, but he tried to go back in the game after his backup got hurt. Tomlin had to force Adams to stay on the sideline and out of the game.
“It was an ugly scene but a beautiful one at the same time,” said Tomlin. “This guy wants to be part of a winner.” It sounds like a dig at the Cowboys, but it’s not. That’s how he—one of the classiest coaches in the NFL—gets down.
When asked what it means to be a Pittsburgh Steeler, Tomlin said, “win.”
Comfortable around his newest football family and guaranteed a Super Bowl payout, Adams couldn’t have said it better himself.