GREEN BAY – With an infant daughter at home, Packers star receiver Davante Adams had plenty to consider in deciding whether to play the 2020 season through the pandemic.
But his passion for the game and his comfort level as a "homebody" converged to make his decision pretty clear to him.
"I love the game. I love my teammates. I've put a lot into this," Adams said in a virtual media session on Tuesday. "I kind of think about my legacy and everything, when it's all said and done.
"This is a tricky time in the world, but at the same time, it's something that I truly believe that we cannot necessarily run from. With all the options weighed and everything taken in account, obviously I'm here and I decided to play."
With all the precautions the Packers are taking within the team facility and Adams' plan to continue managing his social interactions the way he did throughout the offseason in California – he mentioned leaving his house maybe 10 times over several months for reasons other than food – he's confident he can keep his wife and young daughter safe as well.
"I don't do much. I'm a simple man," he said. "I work out. I live and breathe wideout play and I love my family … so hermit it is."
He's guaranteed not to stay in hiding on the football field, though, not as the three-time Pro Bowler continues his role as the unquestioned No. 1 target for quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Adams leads the NFL in touchdown receptions since 2016 (40) and he came three yards away in both '16 and '19 from 1,000-yard seasons that would have given him three in the last four years. Had it not been for missing four games last season with a turf toe injury, his numbers in 2019 (83 catches, 997 yards) would have more closely approximated his monster 2018 season (111-1,386), though he compensated by dominating the playoffs with 17 receptions for 298 yards and two TDs over two games.
The connection between Adams and Rodgers is better than ever, and there's no telling what it'll produce in 2020. Adams attributes their chemistry in part to a similarity in being so staunchly self-motivated.
While he shrugged off his low No. 57 rating on the NFL Network's "Top 100" list as fodder for others, he also downplayed any effect the Packers drafting a potential quarterback of the future in the first round will have on Rodgers' play moving forward. Though he did mention the last two times Rodgers was left out of the NFL Network's top 10 (he was No. 16 this year), he won league MVP the following year – "So we can't rule it out," he said – he sees Rodgers having the right mindset for the upcoming season regardless of potential distractions.
"Truly confident players who know what they're capable of and know what they've done, and they continue to work to be better than what they were," Adams said. "They don't necessarily need … I don't care if they brought Julio Jones in here. That's not going to necessarily make me work harder, because I'm already a workhorse and I already know I'm trying to be better than what I was last year."
He's taking steps forward off the field as well, and not just as a new father. Adams was part of a collection of NFL stars who put together a virtual video message in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd. The video was a plea by numerous high-profile players to get the league to support social-justice efforts that were ignored or frowned upon in recent years.
Adams also was a part of the Packers' own team video calling for change surrounding the issues of racism and police brutality. He wants all that to be just the beginning, and while it's not clear how much players around the league will be able to coordinate their efforts while competing during the season, he plans to take a leadership role within Green Bay's locker room as the team decides how it wants to focus its social-justice energy.
"People like me who have the platform and have the voice that people will listen to, I feel like it's imperative for people like me to step up and do my part," he said.
"I'm at the forefront, definitely, as it pertains to this team because I'm definitely a leader here and I think people look up to me and they understand how serious I am with it, so there will be things that we discuss as a team."
Adams added he's had a lot of conversations with people around the league, along with police officers and others who can help make a difference. He's aware of the backlash to some of the outspokenness of celebrities, but he doesn't want to see the initial social-media surge from the spring simply "fade away" without people understanding the seriousness of the issues and bringing about meaningful reform.
"All that stuff's cool and it helps bring awareness, but we need actual changes," he said. "I'm here for the long haul."