Former Chicago Bears defensive lineman Anthony Adams has gone from the gridiron to the grill.
Adams came back to where he announced his retirement, the White Castle in Gurnee, to help raise money for Autism Speaks.
“It’s been pretty tough, I’m not going to lie,” said Adams after he tried boxing sliders and trying to get the order out in three minutes. “You know, we get breaks in football, to talk about the next play. You don’t get breaks here.”
White Castle will donate $1 to the Autism charity for every a Facebook “Like,” share, comment & retweet of #WhiteCastleCares. Fans can also help by visiting the White Castle website. Adams’ former teammate Matt Forte showed his support by promoting the event – and Adams’ Twitter handle @spiceadams – on the social network.
Adams was hamming it up Wednesday with the lunch-rush crowd, at one point falling to the floor after bench pressing a Crave Case, White Castle’s 30-pack burger box.
“I tore my ACL, man!” he said from the floor.
Nancy Naab of Deerfield stopped at White Castle because her son, Matthew, who has autism, was craving a slider.
“Did I get it right, Miss Nancy?” Adams asked.
Since he stopped playing football last year, Adams has been crafting a media persona for himself through his YouTube channel, SPICEADAMS. Adams has posted several humorous videos, including a self-deprecating “retirement” video that he shot at the Gurnee White Castle. The video 900,000 hits since he posted it March 23. He also posted videos of his basketball prowess, his Olympic aspirations and his eating habits.
His ties to Lake County are many, from playing Santa Clause for the Bear’s Wives annual Christmas party for the special education students in Gages Lakes. In another video, shot by his wife, Andenika, he joins the Lake Villa Township Timberwolves youth football team. He helps them beat Antioch by a score of 247 to 2. The video is titled “Anthony Adams Gets Signed.”
A standout at Penn State, Adams was a second-round pick of the San Francisco 49ers. After 33 starts in four seasons, Adams signed with the Bears and played five seasons. He started 40 games for the Bears and endeared himself to fans and teammates with his exuberant personality. Now, Adams seems to be looking beyond football, creating a strong social media following for himself with 20,000 followers on Twitter.
“I kept myself busy,” Adams told the Sun-Times last week. “It’s a grueling experience. But I got to spend a lot of time with my kids, which was rewarding.”
He continued: “It’s kind of bittersweet, knowing that I’ve been playing football since I was 14 and now it’s done, and I don’t get to run out of a tunnel in front of 70,000 people anymore. But at the same time, I’m excited about the next chapter in my life.”
So what’s next for Adams?
He’s scheduled to graduate from George Washington University with an MBA in July. He plans to perhaps start his own business or join an existing one. He also is open to working in the media. Either way, he’ll stay in Chicago.
“Anthony, he’s one of the good guys,” said Bears fan Glenn Timmermann, 48, of Round Lake Beach who has a black and orange 2011 Chevrolet Camaro with the license plate WP FAN, which stands for Walter Payton.
On Wednesday, Adams had his video crew capturing his White Castle appearance.
“This is a [pulled] hamstring waiting to happen,” Adams said as he got into a three point stance to race across the restaurant to clean some tables.
— Sun-Times NFL columnist Sean Jensen contributed to this story