Adam Carriker was born in Nebraska and grew up in the Pacific Northwest. While he had his pick from several universities to play football, he wisely chose to come home and be a Husker. After an All American career, Carriker was chosen #13 overall by the St. Louis Rams where he played for two years before being traded to the Washington Redskins. Injuries hampered Carriker in both college and the pros but he’s fought back each time and now ready to begin a new chapter in his life. I recently talked with Adam by phone where I immediately brought up his biggest career misstep:
Bill: First things first, you were a multiple star athlete in high school (football where he played both quarterback and Defensive End, baseball, track) who played for my home state Huskers and later on for my beloved Washington Redskins. Why not complete the, “Bill Becker Sports Team Trifecta” and try out for the Dallas Mavericks this past summer?
Adam: (Laughs!) I am a Mark Cuban fan. He’s fun to watch on “Shark Tank”…he’s my favorite Sharker. In high school I was more of the Dennis Rodman type. I like to rebound and play defense. I did win a 3-point shooting contest but my interests were elsewhere.
Bill: Although you grew up in Washington State, you were born in Nebraska and know what the state is like on football Saturdays…what was it like for you the first time you came thru that tunnel in Memorial Stadium?
Adam: I’ve told a handful of people this, not a ton, the first time honestly wasn’t any different than the 2nd or 3rd or 20th time or last time. I have a hard time thinking when this didn’t happen; where I’d be standing there and they’d be playing “Can you feel it” and I would be looking up at the crowd and inevitably I would get so emotional, not crying like a baby but it was like my dream come true. I was standing there about ready to go fulfill it every single time. I would get fairly emotional right before kickoff, maybe shed a tear or two, not too much but a couple of them.
Bill: You finished up your career as a Husker in 2006 and received a lot of recognition including All American honors…what is your most memorable moment as a Husker player?
Adam: I would say this…it was pretty cool…my last home game against Colorado. We’d won the game and I played pretty well. I was in no hurry to walk off the field and I was the last player to walk off the field, it was long after everyone else had left for the locker room. As I was walking in from about the 20 yard line in, all the fans in the North end of the stadium stood up and just started chanted “Carriker.” It was pretty cool. It’s something I thought would never happen and didn’t expect it but it was pretty freaking cool. They did the same thing in the Cotton Bowl against Auburn but there were a lot of Auburn fans there so it wasn’t quite as loud.
Bill: You were picked 13th overall in the 2007 NFL draft by the St. Louis Rams, had a really good rookie year and later on in 2010 were traded to the Redskins. You had moments in the NFL but also dealt with several injury related challenges. What will you remember most about playing in the NFL?
Adam: I guess I am most proud of…that I came back from all those injuries. I mean I have had more than my fair share, that’s kind of what the game is. Some guys get knocked out after an injury but I’ve had the knee done, the shoulder and ankle done and every time I came back. The knee took a little too much time unfortunately but I know guys who had knee injuries in college. I was just talking to someone the other day. It’s been 10 years and he still is dealing with it and still not healthy. So I take pride actually coming back from the injuries. What the fan sees is the time missed but when I was healthy I played well, played effective. I wished I hadn’t had so many but I actually take pride in coming back from the injuries.
Bill: Who was the toughest offensive lineman you ever went up against?
Adam: Two guys immediately popped into my mind. I get asked this question quite frequently and it’s always the same two guys. If I had to pick one it would be tough because it would almost be a tie. Larry Allen is the greatest guard in the history of professional football…the best ever…Hall of Famer, 1st ballot. Probably the strongest guy to ever play in the NFL. I went up against him in my rookie year, he was with the Niners, he had already won 3 Super Bowls with the Cowboys and we played them twice a year. I will never forget, the coaches come over to me and tell me that, “You have your work cut out for you this week.” Now I heard stories about Larry Allen being ungodly strong and I’m like OK he’s strong I get it. I asked my coaches how strong was he and they said he benches 800 pounds. I was like whatever, that’s ridiculous. Nobody benches 800 pounds! I mean the world record is just over 1,000 pounds and all that guy does who holds the record is train all the time.
So the first game I played against him, the first play he knocked me on my butt. It happens…everyone that plays football will get knocked down. The second play he hits me and knocked me on my butt again. It wasn’t a pancake block but he knocked me back and I was down…something that didn’t happen to me very often and certainly not twice in a game, let alone twice in a row. So the third play is pass play so I hit him and then we are running down the field and he yells at me, “You blankety blank rookie.” I’m thinking what is wrong with this guy? Turns out not only is he the strongest guy to ever play in the NFL, certainly the one guy who I ever played against who was stronger than me, but he’s also one of the meanest guys I’ve ever played against. At that stage in his career he wasn’t great at pass protection because he couldn’t move that well but his run blocking left nothing to be desired.
The other guy that pops into my mind is Richie Incognito. My first three years at Nebraska were the three years he started and I went up against him every day in practice. We did all the drills against each other every single day. And then he’s at St. Louis and I get drafted by the Rams so I’m going up against him every day for three more years. So for six years straight it’s me and Richie going toe-to-toe every day. He is incredibly athletic, he’s strong…not Larry Allen strong…nobody is that strong and everyone knows he’s got a heck of a mean streak. It was interesting, my first year starting was my sophomore year and I watched him get in a fight with every single starter on the defensive line except for me. Then I watched him get in a fight with every single linebacker over the course of the season and a few of our secondary starters. Late in the season there were literally only three guys on our starting defense that he hadn’t got into a fight with and I was one of them. I knew it was coming, it was just inevitable. I could tell he had respect for me because the way he played. Other guys, he’d do things but he wouldn’t with me. I knew one day it was going to come and eventually it did and we had our little tussle.
Bill: In March you attended the first ever Veteran’s combine and drew some interest from teams despite not playing for two plus years. I read that Howie Long told you something interesting about Defensive Ends and age and how it’s not the normal thought process when it comes to athletes getting older. Tell me more about that.
Adam: So my agent at the time actually played for the Raiders and played with Howie Long, he was his roommate with him when they both were with the Raiders and was his good friend. The summer before my rookie year he flew my out to Virginia where Howie lived at the time…this was when Chris Long was in college and I actually met him before the Rams drafted him in 2008. We get to Howie’s place and knock on the door. Howie opens the door and doesn’t really say, “Hello”…he just kind of waves me to come on in and we go into the kitchen and he has this notebook sitting there and half of it is completely full! Like the entire page and he starts rifling thru it and he’s giving me all this information and man he was intense and he was focused like he was getting ready to play a game tomorrow, only he had been retired for 13 years and he was just helping me.
One of the things he told was, “Right now you are at your physical peak. You don’t know what you are doing. You’re running around like chicken with your head cut off but you are at your physical peak.” He goes, “At some point you are going to be an old fart and you are not going to be able to run around like you used to but you are going to know everything before it happens.” He went on and said, “You are going to be just as good but you aren’t going to be able to do it physically, but mentally you are going to know it and have that advantage. Your peak is at 28 when you have a pretty good idea what you are doing and you are still physically pretty good and that’s the best of both worlds.”
Bill: Do you have plans on attending the Veterans combine this coming March?
Adam: Ah probably not. I mean I haven’t said anything publicly yet, but my agent had no shortage of phone calls last year. There were several phone calls and I was literally seconds away from signing a contract with a team and we just couldn’t iron out those last few details. They wouldn’t bend and I told my agent, hey most guys would have walked away by now, it was what almost three years by then since I had last played. Most people would have walked away after year one; almost everyone I know would have definitely walked away after two years of not playing and I don’t know a single person who would have played after being gone for three years. No one is going to question the level of football I could play but at the same time I had a career I was pretty proud of at that point. Anyone that knows me knows that I am not going to be bored when I’m done playing. I’m not one of these guys that doesn’t have anything to do once his career is over. So I told my agent that I will sign a contract that is fair, but I don’t agree with these two things and we just couldn’t agree on them. I mean I appreciate the opportunity that the team was giving me, but I am walking away. At some point I will officially announce my retirement and put something in there so they know what happened.
Bill: You clearly still have a love to workout. I saw a video on your Facebook where you just had a personal best for your incline bench press. Congrats!
Adam: Thank you. I actually have two other videos to post…a personal best bench with chains and one with a close grip. I need to post those other videos.
Bill: I saw someone at my gym doing bench presses with chains. What’s the purpose of those…to make it harder to balance?
Adam: It’s a little bit of a balancing act but the other thing is it helps with explosion. Using chains or bands…when you are at the bottom the chains are on the floor and as you lift it gets heavier at the top so it kind of helps with explosion. It’s also a way to lift heavier as well.
Bill: You do a weekly recap of each Husker game, called “The Carriker Chronicles” that you post on Sunday nights. I love the detailed analysis and insider’s view of what happened that weekend. Tell me how that started.
Adam: Well it started when Bo got fired and there were people who were excited and people who were so mad I just felt there was almost a division…and there still is to this day unfortunately. Everything Riley does is compared to Bo with this division of Husker Nation. I saw a tweet from a former player who I played with in D.C. who had just recently come out of Nebraska and I saw something else from a player I played with in Washington and I disagreed with both of them 1,000 percent. I know these guys and I respect what they did in their careers but I had a difference of opinion on how I view Nebraska and the expectations than they do.
I decided that since they expressed their point of view so I am going to express mine. I ended up writing something a whole lot longer than I thought it would be. I don’t even remember how long it was I just know it was long. I just sat down and wrote and wrote everything I wanted to say. That ended up getting a lot of attention. I knew it would get attention but I didn’t know it would get that much. Then when Riley got hired…it’s interesting being a kid from the Northwest and I have been to Oregon State. I went to their camp four years in a row…I about went there. I know that place better than anyone…I watched Riley coach in the 90s. He made Oregon State one of the worst D1 programs ever into a team that annihilated Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl and ended up in the top 5 in the nation. Riley was in San Diego by that time but those players were then ones he recruited. So everyone is complaining who is this guy? We don’t know anything about him; he’s under .500…so I just expressed my opinion. I was surprised by the hiring too but this isn’t as bad as people think.
The third one was when Bo Pelini’s tape got leaked. There was like 7 thoughts that came into my head and I just wrote them down. All three posts garnered a little traction and I love talking Husker football. I grew up in the Northwest…NOBODY wanted to talk Husker football with me up there. Now I can talk Husker football; people want to talk and people actually care a smidge. I find that pretty cool because it’s something I never had growing up. So anyway I asked my wife what she thought of this idea, once a week, recapping and responding on the Husker game…do you think people would care? She was like, I think so. So that’s kind of how it started.
Bill: In addition to your weekly Husker recap you also do some local radio shows each week and appear regularly on Fox News. Is broadcasting something you’d like to do full-time?
Adam: It is possibly, I do two Husker shows each week and then one out in the D.C. area for the Redskins. I wasn’t too nervous on the first Fox show on Fox Business. It was the Varney & Company show which is the highest rated show on the Fox Business Channel and then Fox News which was kind of a big deal. If you know anything about me, I am the kid who used to run from the media. I was the kid who hated giving speeches in class. I was dripping with sweat…I was so nervous and I wanted nothing to do with it. Then the radio show I had a couple years ago “4th & Pain” (show about the WEE) helped me shed that fear. I always had thoughts and opinions on things and when I am comfortable I can articulate fairly well, but I was just never comfortable. That radio show turned into a podcast and kind of helped me with getting comfortable. To go on Fox News was a big deal for me because it was live national television. That was something I enjoyed immensely and I was nowhere near as nervous as I thought I would be. So when they have me on I still look forward to it…I still hate wearing a tie…sometimes I don’t even bother putting one on.
Bill: Thanks for your time Adam….and go Huskers and Redskins this weekend!
Bill Becker is the Founder and “Chief Creative Dude” of WeekendSportsUpdate.com. You can follow him on Twitter @weekendsportsup