Vernon Adams Jr.’s big investment
Two years after delivering food during COVID, the former Oregon quarterback is dropping big money to make sure his Montreal Alouettes operate at top speed.
It’s a bit funny now in hindsight. One of the last times I spoke with Vernon Adams Jr. he had just signed the first big contract of his life, a three-year deal with the Montreal Alouettes that was set to pay him $1.5 million over the next three seasons.
But then came COVID, then came delayed training camps and then, ultimately, a canceled CFL season. No games meant no paychecks, which had the former Oregon quarterback spending time that spring delivering food throughout the Tacoma area with Uber Eats.
“Paying my dues,” he said at the time. “It’s a grind.”
I wrote that story up for The Athletic and it went a bit viral in Canada — that part wasn’t my intention, I texted him the next day.
Not a problem at all, Adams replied. Again, all part of the grind.
That was two years ago.
Today, games have been played and checks have been paid to a point where last weekend Adams flew out members of Montreal’s offense and put them up in a hotel for an informal minicamp in Tacoma. He also flew out their significant others and children, booked massages and kept everyone fed for three days.
It set him back more than $20,000.
“I see it as an investment,” he said.
I texted Adams on Monday after seeing his Instagram posts about the minicamp, seeing if he wanted to chat for a story.
“Just let me know when you’re free,” he wrote.
It was perfect timing. I had just finished my Monday DoorDash shift.
Here’s our conversation about that minicamp, the big “what if” of Oregon’s 2015 season, Bo Nix, Oregon WR coach Junior Adams, rewatching his Cooper Kupp highlights and, yes, the food delivery grind.
So, that couldn’t have been cheap…
No, no, no. It’s definitely not. But I look at it as an investment. The last couple years we’ve done this we’ve ended up being the No. 1 offense in the CFL. So I’m investing this time with us right now and getting to trust these guys on and off the field.
Then we lay it out on the field and put up big numbers.
So that’s how I look at it. If everything goes as planned, maybe next year I’m going to bring the defensive guys. I could get the hotels for them, but I just could not get the flights. I was already over 20 bags. So I’m like, ‘Dude, guys, just get here and I have hotels for you.’
So a couple of guys from the BC Lions and around Washington came in and I got them hotels, just as defensive guys so they could give us a look on defense.
How do you go about planning an itinerary for that many people coming to town?
So it took me about a month to get it all down. I make sure I fly all the guys in. I get them in a nice hotel. And after that, I’m like, ‘How would we do it if we were at work?’ We don’t usually practice until a little bit later, so we wake up around 8:30 a.m., we lift and after that we travel to the practice field. Then I have lunch for the guys and the wives and my house. So they come to the house, then we do our offensive installs for about an hour and a half. And then after that we have massages lined up for the guys for the rest of the day.
The work day is really from 8:30 a.m. to about 2-2:30 p.m., then after that it’s just massages and then everyone can take the rest of the day for themselves.
You’re in Year 6 now. You seem pretty comfortable in taking on this role as the veteran. How did that start?
The CFL used to do minicamps and all the teams would go down to Dodgertown in Florida and put three or four days in. So, we used to do that and it was cool. But then for some reason they took it out with the new CBA in 2019. So I just kind of took on the initiative when COVID hit. That was my first time doing it. We did it in Montreal. Then we did one later in the year after the season got canceled, then one last year.
My thought process behind it was that there’s so much team bonding at minicamps. We were a month away from training camp after five months away from the team, and when we come together it’s all smiles and laughs and just a good time. And then when we go back home we all know what we have to work on. We have a full three days of weights, yoga, massages, offensive installs and practice — all basically stuff to team build and bond.
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How are you feeling after your injury?
So, I broke my left shoulder — my humerus — eight games into the season last October, and I’ve just been doing PT and throwing three times a week. We’re right around the corner from training camp, so I’m starting to throw four times a week now. I feel good. I’m out here slinging it and just getting ready for the season and trying to get as close to 100 percent as I can.
You’ve been thrown a few different curveballs between COVID and injuries during your career. I bet you’re hoping for just one normal season.
Exactly. You know, it started at Oregon. I got hurt, then the first couple years here I didn’t play that much. I did show some things, then I got my first year playing in 2019 and didn’t play the full year, so I’m waiting just to stay healthy and show what I got over a full 18-game season.
You know people around here still talk about that injury as one of the biggest “What ifs” in Oregon history.
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