GREEN BAY – It's been five years since the longest Thanksgiving of Davante Adams' life.
This goes back to before Adams was a three-time Pro Bowler. In 2015, he was a second-year receiver for the Packers playing through an ankle injury that would shelve him for upwards of the month by the time a nightmarish campaign was over.
On Thanksgiving, Green Bay was hosting Chicago in what was supposed to be a joyous affair at Lambeau Field. Bart Starr and his family were in attendance as the organization officially retired Brett Favre's iconic No. 4 during a jubilant halftime ceremony.
On the field, it was anything but. Adams caught only two of his 11 targets for 14 yards as the Packers fell to the Bears, 17-13, their fourth loss in five games. Afterwards, despite having family in town for the holiday, Adams kept to himself.
"I just remember going in the room and just closing the door for the whole night, nobody came in," Adams said. "I think my wife brought me food and that was the only time I spoke to anybody that day."
That disappointing night seems like ancient history now, as the seventh-year veteran is one catch away from becoming just the fifth receiver in Packers history to eclipse 500 career receptions – joining the likes of James Lofton, Sterling Sharpe, Donald Driver and Jordy Nelson.
And fittingly, that catch likely will come this Sunday night against the Bears.
Adams' sophomore season in the NFL has become just a small part of his success story. The 6-foot-1, 216-pound receiver has been on a tear this season, with 68 catches for 847 yards and an NFL-best 10 touchdown receptions.
He's just the fourth receiver in team history to post 10 TD catches in the first 10 games – despite missing two of them with a hamstring issue. A month shy of his 28th birthday, Adams already sits fifth in receptions, sixth in TD receptions (54) and 10th in receiving yards (6,041) in the Packers' record book.
"You can see the talent on tape when you're watching him from afar, but until you get around somebody and see how they go about their business on a daily basis, you really don't know," Head Coach Matt LaFleur said. "That's just a credit to him, the way he works at it. Shoot, I've probably learned more from him than he has from me, in terms of just how he's able to set up different routes."
Almost two years into their partnership, LaFleur will still pull Adams aside to talk about routes or get feedback on practice, saying it would be "foolish not to try and pick his brain."
Once considered one of the league's hidden gems, Adams has been one of the primary talking points of opposing head coaches in Zoom calls with Green Bay media this season. Leading up to last week's game against Indianapolis, Colts head coach Frank Reich said: "Davante Adams is one of the best, if not the best, receiver in the league."
And that's why Adams remains forever thankful for those who stood by him – including his parents and his wife, Devanne, who was there for him after that game against the Bears in 2015.
He extends that gratitude to his quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, receiving mentors Nelson, Randall Cobb and James Jones, and the Packers' front office and coaching staff for trusting in his talent in spite of the early injuries and adversity.
"I definitely appreciate the organization for sticking by because of all the stigma and all the negative comments, and all that stuff that kind of circulated around my name," Adams said.
"It was a tough time for me but the people I have around me, my friends, family and obviously my really close family – mom, dad, my wife, everybody just staying by me – I'm definitely thankful for them because that could've ended up going the opposite way."
Adams continues to point up entering Week 12, with four 100-yard performances in eight games. He's making a convincing case for his first All-Pro team, while on pace for career-highs in catches (119), receiving yards (1,482) and TD receptions (17).
With six regular-season games left, Adams is currently the second-highest rated offensive player (92.0) in the NFL by Pro Football Focus. The only player Adams trails? Rodgers (92.6).
"He's got a great perspective and really has mastered that craft, takes a lot of pride in route-running," said LaFleur of Adams. "And you see it in practice every day — finishing, doing all the little things. I think when you get a smart guy with that athletic ability, that's when they become great. And that's what he is."