Gaines Adams Had Different Approach
What did he do with it?
Adams bought a condo in downtown Tampa and asked his parents to come live there and help him get settled.
"Money changes people," Adams said during his 2007 debut season. "If you let them, people can influence you into doing some crazy stuff."
Adams was raised too well and was far too grounded to let that happen. His teammates in Tampa and Chicago, where he was traded to last October, knew that and appreciated that about the soft-spoken defensive end from Clemson.
Which made his shocking death Sunday morning at the age of 26 all the more painful.
"Gaines was a quiet, humble kid and is far too young to be gone," Bucs cornerback Ronde Barber said. "He had so much potential that had yet to be achieved and I am very sad that the full extent of his life won't be realized."
Chris Hovan: "When he came to Tampa, I took Gaines under my wing; I considered him my little brother and that's how I will always remember him. This is all so unreal and it hasn't really hit me yet."
Adams, an All-American at Clemson who finished his third NFL season two weeks ago, went into cardiac arrest at his family's home in Greenwood, S.C. Adams was rushed to the emergency room at Self Regional Healthcare at 7:14 a.m. and pronounced dead at 8:21 a.m, according to Marcia Kelley-Clark, chief deputy coroner of Greenwood County.
An autopsy revealed Adams, a 6-foot-5, 260-pounder, had an enlarged heart, though relatives were unaware of it, according to Kelley-Clark. Toxicology tests are scheduled to follow. Results won't be known for perhaps two months, but officials do not expect drugs to be a factor in the cause of death.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell spoke to reporters about Adams at the AFC divisional-round game Sunday at San Diego.
"He seemed like a very genuine, nice man," Goodell said. "He seemed focused on being a good person, not just an NFL player."
That was evident in Adams from the start of his professional career in 2007. That was the year the likes of Michael Vick, Adam "Pacman" Jones and Tank Johnson were making the kind of NFL headlines Adams wanted to avoid.
Tampa Bay's newest multi-millionaire made a conscious decision that affected both him and those around him.
"It's hard," Adams said at the time. "There are guys I grew up with and played peewee ball with, and I'm telling them, 'I'm still your friend, but we can't hang out like we used to.' That's a tough thing to do, but it's just the way it is."
Adams worked his way into the Tampa Bay starting lineup midway through his rookie season and finished with six sacks for a team that won the NFC South division crown. His productivity fell in '08, and when the Bucs lost their first five games of '09, the team pinpointed Adams as one of its few marketable assets and traded him to the Bears for a 2010 second-round draft choice.
His career numbers showed 67 solo tackles, 13 1/2 sacks and two interceptions, one returned for a touchdown, in three pro seasons.
Chicago defensive end Alex Brown eulogized Adams via Twitter.
"Please send out your prayers to Gaines Adams' family, he was a great teammate and will be missed," Brown wrote. "Cherish life, we only get one. God Bless!"