NEWARK, New Jersey (Reuters) - Mike Adams is rethinking his celebration plans if the Denver Broncos win Sunday’s Super Bowl against the Seattle Seahawks in New Jersey.
Adams was so excited when his team booked a place in the first Super Bowl to be played in his home state that he vowed to walk back to his old neighborhood if his team won the title.
Not only that, the 32-year-old said he would complete the 10-mile (16 kilometer) hike to Paterson wearing his Broncos football uniform, complete with pads and cleats.
“It was the excitement after beating the Patriots (to reach the Super Bowl),” he told reporters during Tuesday’s media day, an annual event that kicks off of Super Bowl week.
“I was just thinking, if I go to the Super Bowl, I’m walking home. I’m keeping my equipment on and I’m walking home.
“That’s how it started. It seems like I have to prove you guys right, huh?”
But when pressed about whether he really intended to walk all that way after the game, in the cold of winter, he admitted he was having second thoughts.
“Maybe, maybe not,” he said. “I’ll tell you what, I won’t be able to walk home in my cleats. I need some nice warm walking shoes.”
Despite his reservations about the long trek, Adams said he definitely would take a trip back to his old neighborhood, where he still has lots of friends and family.
Paterson is a poor, urban community with one of the highest rates of violent crime in New Jersey but also a neighborhood that has produced a string of National Football League players.
Adams will be third player from Paterson to play in the Super Bowl in the past six years and he said the experience of growing up in a tough area helped.
Linebacker Gerald Hayes, who attended the same high school as Adams, played for the Arizona Cardinals in a losing effort to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Super Bowl following the 2009 season while New York wide receiver Victor Cruz played on the Giants team that won the title two years ago.
“Growing up in a neighborhood where there’s killings, there’s drugs, and all of that, you have to have a strong mind, not just strong physically, but you need to have a strong mind to overcome all of that,” Adams said.
“It wasn’t always peaches and cream where I grew up. It was a challenge.
“It was a tough neighborhood, but I don’t want to gear toward all of the negative things ... I would rather talk about the positives that are going on, which is me going to the Super Bowl, me giving toy drives, coat drives, free haircuts. Like all of the positive stuff Victor Cruz does and Gerald Hayes.”
A naturally gifted athlete who spent his childhood playing football in the streets, Adams never knew his father and lost to mother to cancer a decade ago, in his first year in the NFL, with the San Francisco 49ers.
After three seasons with the 49ers, he spent the next five in Cleveland before moving to Denver, and to the biggest game of his life.
On Monday night, he returned to Paterson to have dinner with his grandmother and uncle, eating home-cooked rice, beans and green chicken, as the realization of what he had achieved began to sink in.
“My little brother walked into the house and said, ‘You’re going to the Super Bowl, what are you doing here?’” Adams recalled.
“It was kind of funny and then it dawned on me again, that I am going to the Super Bowl and I am playing in the Super Bowl.”
Editing by Frank Pingue