When you hit a crossroads in life, there are two routes you can take. You can easily take the negative approach, giving in to the obstacles that are in front of you, turning around and going backwards. Or you can just plow straight ahead, never giving up; never giving in.
Mike Adams faced that crossroad when the offensive tackle was given a backseat in the Steelers offense, losing his starting left tackle spot to Kelvin Beachum early in the 2013 season, something that is never easy for a proud NFL player. He had a decision to make, and he went with the second choice, plowing ahead and not letting it get him down.
Check out photos of offensive tackle Mike Adams from the 2013 season.
"When it happens it's not good," said Adams. "No one wants to get benched. But if you concentrate on the bad stuff you are going to lose it and go in the tank. For me it was all about rebounding. I know better than to sit and sulk.
"I think football in general helps you fight through adversity. That's what you are taught ever since you were a little kid and you started playing the game. You never quit. Things are going to get tough and the team that fights through it the most is going to win. I feel like playing this game for so long you can fight through anything. If you can make it this far in football you can fight through most things in life. It's such a tough game and you have to be a tough minded person to play it."
It was just the reaction everyone hoped for from Adams, including his teammates, friends and family, and in particular Coach Mike Tomlin.
"He wanted to see how I would respond," said Adams of Tomlin. "From what we talked about I responded the way he wanted, worked hard and got better, got a lot better, built on a lot of things I needed to fix. I need to just keep building. In the offseason and OTAs I just need to go out and perform the way I know I can, the way they know I can and ultimately if that happens, things will be how they are supposed to be. I am itching to get out there and show what I can do. It will be interesting to see how it plays out and I am excited about it."
Adams, the team's 2012 number two pick, started the first four games of the season at left tackle, but after a rough go of it against the Minnesota Vikings lost his starting job and his role then changed to a blocking tight end. He didn't start again at left tackle until Beachum was sidelined with an injury against the Miami Dolphins. The biggest issue for Adams was his consistency, not putting together a string of good performances and therefore resulting in losing the starting spot.
"I just need to keep working on consistency in my game," said Adams. "You can't go out and have a good game and then have a bad game. You have to go out there and be consistently good. Over the course of the year I had the chance to get better and I became more consistent. I got a chance to play again against Miami and thought I did some good things against a good defensive end. I am just looking forward to getting a chance to do it again next year."
Adams weighed in on a few other things, from the offense clicking late in the season, to Maurkice Pouncey returning in 2014 and more.
On the offense clicking at the end of the season, despite changes on offensive line: "I think the offense is a testament to something Coach Tomlin says all of the time, the offense is going to go as we go. We all started out a little rough the first four games, giving up sacks and pressures, but got better as the year went on. That is a testament to hard work and sticking together. We have a lot of positive things to build on, a lot to look forward to. I think everyone is excited about that. We didn't start the way we wanted, but we ended well."
On center Maurkice Pouncey returning to the field in 2014: "You can't even say what it means to have a guy like that out there. He is a leader on the field and off the field, vocally and physically. He is a great player, one of the best ever to play the position. I am sure a lot of people will tell you that. We're excited to have him back."
On the offensive line being a close group: "We like to stay close, workout together. We go on vacation together. We are all so close, we love being around each other. We are like a bunch of kids."
On what teammate he leaned on after his role changed: "For me it was a personal thing. If there was anyone I talked to it was David DeCastro. Everybody is always there for you. We have such a special group here. We are all so tight. We all know what each other is thinking, we don't even have to say it. We are all there for each other no matter what."