Davante Adams loved playing football with Aaron Rodgers. But the former Packers receiver was tired of an apparent growing narrative that his success was largely due to catching passes from a four-time league MVP and future Hall of Fame quarterback.
Adams, by virtue of his success without Rodgers last season, feels that he has put that narrative to rest. He said he felt vindicated when he was named All-Pro for the third consecutive season, which kept alive his pursuit of Jerry Rice's receiving record of five straight All-Pro nods from 1992-96.
"Now people can't say that," Adams says of the comments regarding his success being tied to Rodgers, via The Ringer. "That'll never be the narrative ever again. ... It proved that I am me. A quarterback doesn't make me. … I make me. And I can do it consistently at this level."
Adams, 30, is closing in on some significant career milestones that will beef up his future Hall of Fame chances. He's less than 400 yards away from becoming the 53rd player with 10,000 career receiving yards. Adams is 231 catches away from becoming just the 15th player to reach 1,000 career grabs. Already tied for 15th all-time with 87 touchdown catches, Adams could possibly become the 11th wideout to catch 100 career touchdowns by the end of this season.
All of those numbers, Adams feels, wouldn't have been fully appreciated by those on the outside had he continued to play with Rodgers, who is starting a new chapter in his career after joining the Jets this offseason. Regardless of what happens in the future, Adams believes that he has proven that his success is not dependent on playing with a Hall of Fame level quarterback.
"That's why [last] season meant a lot," Adams said. "Even if I went and played like dog shit next year, they can't say it. Because now I've already proved it throughout the course of a season, played every game, and put together a résumé that says I do not need. ... You can erase all the numbers. You can just write in: He didn't need Aaron Rodgers."
Adams will surely be a future Hall of Fame lock should be match Rice's record. Like Adams, Rice proved later in his career that he could continue to put up big numbers with a different quarterback. After he enjoyed a prolific partnership with Joe Montana (that included a pair of Super Bowl wins), Rice was just as dominant when left-handed Steve Young became the 49ers' starting quarterback when Rice was entering his seventh season. Rice's All-Pro streak actually took place with Young as his quarterback, not Montana.
A Super Bowl would also do wonders for Adams' future Hall of Fame chances. While they didn't win it, a then 40-year-old Rice played an integral role in the Raiders making it to the big game 21 years ago. Adams is looking to mimic Rice by helping the Raiders make it back to the big game for the first time since 2002.
"My goal is to win a Super Bowl with this team," Adams said. "And that's why I didn't come here to just be cute with Derek.
"It is to really try and have a shot and change this organization."