Both on and off the field, Davante Adams is making major moves.
The Green Bay Packers wide receiver's remarkable 2020—his fourth straight Pro Bowl campaign and first All-Pro selection—helped set the stage for an equally exciting future, which includes work with sports nutrition leader Optimum Nutrition and its Building Better Lives program.
In addition to promoting easy access to fitness for all, he and Minnesota Vikings wideout Justin Jefferson, 22, are determined to bring permanent fitness resources to underserved communities—including his own in East Palo Alto, California, and Jefferson's in Saint Rose, Louisiana.
Adams, who's heading into a contract year, is on the periphery of the NFL's biggest story, as star quarterback Aaron Rodgers' status with the Packers is still in doubt. With Rodgers having played a pivotal role in his growth as a player over the last seven years, the 28-year-old is hoping the quarterback will stick around and help lead the team to another successful season following consecutive trips to the NFC title game.
In an exclusive interview with Bleacher Report, Adams discussed pulling for a Rodgers return, getting back in front of fans, his involvement with the Building Better Lives initiative and more.
Bleacher Report: Happy belated Father's Day! How'd you spend it?
Davante Adams: It was fantastic, man, appreciate that. I actually just got back from South America [Sunday].
B/R: Oh, that's great. How long were you away for?
DA: Since last Monday. So that's, what? I can't even count. It's weird when you leave and travel that distance. You travel for, like, 15 hours, so it's hard to even remember what day it is. I left Monday night and got back [Sunday] in the afternoon.
B/R: How did you get involved with the Building Better Lives program? What motivated you to be a part of it?
DA: The Optimum Nutrition collaboration we've been doing has been a great thing, man. It's something that I wish was around when I was a kid. The Building Better Lives program is about promoting access to fitness for everyone, and me being from a city like East Palo Alto, a community in need, having those resources as a kid or even a little bit older heading into college would've been huge and played a big role in potential offers for college and just different exposure I didn't have being where I'm from.
Justin Jefferson and I are doing this fitness challenge, trying to win fitness equipment for Optimum Nutrition and for our hometowns by encouraging people to work out. It's something both of us have always...we have similar backgrounds. I have kind of a West Coast style and he has a bit of a Southern style, but it's something we both talked about individually where it's like, 'Man, this is something that would've been huge when we were coming up just to be able to have that.' I think he may have been a little bit higher recruited than I was.
I didn't play football until my junior year of high school, but both of us being from not the greatest backgrounds and not having a whole lot of money and resources, this whole collaboration has been great. I think about the kids in my hometown now who are still getting some good exposure but don't have that access to the resources like what we are seeing nowadays. It's been a big, big thing, and I think it kind of embodies who we are as people too. It's been a really good deal so far.
B/R: What's it been like working with Justin Jefferson on a project like this after being rivals on the football field?
DA: We're not rivals on the football field. I'm rivals with the DBs on the Vikings. All the wideouts are my friends. I got real close with Stefon Diggs when he was there. Being with Justin's been great. He's a hell of a wideout, and we have similar mindsets. He's much younger than I am, but we have similar mindsets on helping people and obviously our craft.
I see him taking a big jump going into this next year. Not that he didn't have a phenomenal year this past year, but I see him making another jump. Doing stuff like this is a small thing, and you have that indirect correlation and a certain type of focus in life, it can do a lot for you on the field as well. For him to be doing something like this is huge, and I'm looking forward to seeing how the rest of his career unfolds.
B/R: How do you plan on keeping your momentum going after being in the MVP conversation last season?
DA: Just continuing to take my training seriously. I expect a lot of stuff out of myself each year. I set new goals, new personal goals. I don't ever leak those personal goals because the narrative can change. People think you're focused on the wrong thing. Really, it's just a way of holding myself accountable for my teammates, and by saying that I want to have this many touchdowns or do better than what I did yardswise last year, I'm not too focused on the number exactly.
But it's just a way to say, I'm obviously a big, big part of the offense of this team. If I tell myself I need to do this or do that or have this number or have that, it's putting a little bit more pressure on myself to live up to what everyone else is expecting of me on my team to get to that ultimate goal.
B/R: Was it strange going from playing in a sold-out stadium to an empty one? Surely you have to be looking forward to going back to playing in front of fans again.
DA: Oh, yeah, huge. I'm the type of guy that feeds off the crowd, and [any time] I get a first down or a touchdown, I'm always looking to the fans because they do a lot for us, a lot more than what they know. Definitely looking forward to getting them back in the stands. We had a little bit of that at the end of the year, but it still wasn't packed. Seeing 75, 77, 80 thousand people in the stands gives me a little bit of a different feeling that you can't really recreate with empty stands out there, so we're definitely all looking forward to that.
B/R: Did it take time for you to get used to that atmosphere or was it a one-game thing where it was an immediate transition for you?
DA: Yeah, it definitely wasn't a one-game thing. It took damn near half the season to get used to nobody, and almost the worst part is when you're off the field because when something happens on the far side of the field, there's no fans, and they'd see that on the other side; they're roaring in a good way or in a negative way.
Sometimes it's a little bit of an anticipation after a play happens because you don't really know if someone's stepped out of bounds or whatever, if the ball was picked off, you can't have a direct sight to it. It took awhile for me to get used to, but in between each play, it's not a big deal. As you come out for warm-ups and you come out for the game and there's nobody there, there's no crowd noise other than the simulated crowd noise, it's definitely weird. We had a great season, but I'll take the fans any day.
B/R: Were you aware that you were about to break Sterling Sharpe's franchise receptions record last season before you did?
DA: I wasn't really thinking about it as I was approaching it. When I knew how many catches I had and how many games were left, I had a sense of where that might end up. But like I said, it wasn't my focus. When it happened, I didn't even realize it happened until I was notified on the sideline. Going into the game, it was obviously all over social media and stuff like that. I knew about it, but in the moment, you don't really think about that too much and you just go out there and play. It's a blessing to be in that position. A lot of people helped me and actively help when I'm on the field for me to be able to have a record like that.
B/R: As we speak, based on everything that's transpired lately, what do you think the likelihood is of Aaron Rodgers staying with the Packers?
DA: Honestly, I'm not a gambling man, so it's tough to say what the chances are on that, but we're all just praying that he comes back. That's my guy. His locker is always going to be there. I don't see him leaving and I pray that he doesn't. We're all just going to stay in good spirits and just let the chips fall where they may.
B/R: How has your relationship with Aaron grown over the last several years?
DA: It's been a very gradual growth. That's kind of how the true connection goes between a quarterback and a wideout. We let this thing happen organically, and I'd say we took some big steps throughout the way, but to get from where I was when I first got here to where I am with him now, it's a huge difference and it's a lot of focus and off-field experiences and stuff that brought us even closer together. We're closer now than we ever have been, and I think that it reflects on the field.
B/R: Outside Aaron, is there anyone else on the team you're just as close with?
DA: I love all my teammates, man. I got a lot of great teammates that I lean on, that lean on me, so there's plenty of them. Marcedes Lewis. All the wideouts. I'm really close with all my wideouts. Outside of the wideouts, Marcedes Lewis is probably who I'm closest to.
B/R: If Aaron does remain with the Packers, do you see yourself sticking with the team for the foreseeable future as well?
DA: That's the plan, man. I'm not planning on going anywhere. That's only one piece of it, though. Obviously the quarterback situation helps it, but the stars got to align across the board as far as contractually. We'll figure all that stuff out and let it happen. I'll be at training camp like I said regardless, we're going to play the season, and we'll see how all of that pans out.
B/R: What do you see the keys to victory being with the Packers this year after such a strong season last year?
DA: Just expanding off what we've done the last two seasons. We put ourselves in a really good position to go out there and have a shot at the ultimate gold. I think we were just missing a couple of pieces that we added this year just to the team in general. I think everybody's mindset is there, and we have that natural knack for winning. At this point, it's about winning the ones you can't lose and finishing it off. One more game last year and we would've been in the show. I think once we get there, we can take care of it. That's kind of the mindset.
B/R: Finally, how can fans and viewers support the Building Better Lives program?
DA: I hope everyone supports me with Building Better Lives. You can visit onbuildingbetterlives.com and everything you need to know and all of your questions will be answered there if I haven't answered them on the phone here today. Again, it's onbuildingbetterlives.com and go out there and check that out and experience the great things we're doing this offseason to put other people in great positions as well.