Super Bowl ring would cap career for 'The Hotel'
For a man who would be nicknamed "The Hotel" because of his immense size, Flozell Adams seemed a perfect fit for the football field.
But not in his mind.
Rather than filling his nights studying blocking schemes, Adams concentrated on English, science and Renaissance and Medieval history -- standard stuff for your typical 6-foot-5, 265-pound high school sophomore.
Now he is close to making history of his own -- earning his first Super Bowl ring in a career filled with accolades. As he's done all year, Adams will start at right tackle for the Steelers when they host the New York Jets on Sunday in the AFC Championship Game.
And he is just one win away from returning to Dallas, where he spent the first 12 seasons of his NFL career.
"It would be cool," Adams said of playing in the Super Bowl on the Cowboys' home field, "but that's not a major focus of mine. I don't care if it was in Europe, as long as I win the Super Bowl."
Adams started 178 games at left tackle for the Cowboys and made five Pro Bowls before getting released last April.
He didn't sign with the Steelers until late July after starting right tackle Willie Colon was lost for the year to an Achilles injury.
And he didn't fully commit to right tackle until Adams saw quarterback Byron Leftwich get flattened by a defensive lineman he was supposed to block.
That came in the Steelers' first preseason game against the Detroit Lions. The play only validated questions about whether Adams could make the transition from the left to the right side of the offensive line.
"Once I got to the sideline, I was thinking to myself, 'I've got some real work to do, and I'm going to definitely do it, and I'm going to make myself play right tackle the best I can,' " the 6-7, 338-pound Adams said. "I (made) the conscious decision that I'm going to work harder because I wanted to do it."
Adams might have never played football had Proviso West High coach David Glover not spotted him in the school's field house near the end of his sophomore year.
Adams hadn't played sports growing up outside of Chicago, and when Glover asked him about going out for the football team in the fall, Adams said he would think about it.
Glover pulled an end-around that summer, talking to Adams' mother. She, in turn, informed Adams that he would be playing football that season.
"She drove me up to training camp at the high school the first two days just to make sure I got on the field," Adams says. "At first I hated it. I was kind of getting beat up out there, and (Glover) kind of pulled me to the side one day and he told me that I needed to pick it up."
He did, eventually getting recruited by a host of Big Ten schools before signing with Michigan State. In East Lansing, Mich., Adams earned Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year honors -- and picked up his aforementioned moniker.
After a lengthy career in Dallas, he essentially started over after signing with the Steelers -- and not just because Adams didn't really know anyone when he arrived at St. Vincent College in Latrobe.
Steelers offensive line coach Sean Kugler has likened the switch Adams made to someone writing with their left hand for years, then having to do so with their right hand.
Adams went along with the position change. But he didn't embrace it until Leftwich got sacked by Lions defensive end Cliff Avril.
"He just went the wrong way," Leftwich said. "That's what preseason games are for, and we just laughed about it and went on to the next play. We knew there would be some things like that happen, but as you can see he's been playing his butt off at right tackle."
He has gone to extremes just to get on the field.
Take last Saturday.
Having left the AFC divisional playoff game because of flu-like symptoms and vomiting, Adams tried to stagger back onto the field in the fourth quarter after Jonathan Scott, who had moved from left tackle to replace him, went down with an injury.
Adams could barely stand, and Steelers coach Mike Tomlin made sure he didn't re-enter the game.
"That was an ugly scene, but a beautiful one at the same time," Tomlin said. "We appreciate his intentions. His intentions are very pure. This guy wants to win. He wants to be a part of a winner."
Adams, 35, has another year left on his contract, and he said he is not considering retirement.
He wants to finish his career in Pittsburgh and will do so at right tackle, if that is what the Steelers want.
"I'm happy where I am. I'm not just saying that," Adams said. "Wherever I can go, just to participate with this organization, right tackle, left tackle, anything I can do I'm going to do."
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin on ...
The Jets' inability to seize momentum early in games:
"Neither have we, to be quite honest with you. The great thing about football, and particularly playoff football, is you guys can do all you want to try to write the script of how this game could potentially unfold all week. The reality is that nobody knows. That's why it's going to be awesome to be in the stadium at 6:30 on Sunday. Probably a week ago no one anticipated our score being 31-24 against the Ravens, but it was."
Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward saying after a Dec. 19 game that he could have been thrown to more often while Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis was covering him:
"I've been in the league 10 years. I haven't been around a receiver who didn't think he wasn't open."
Jets wide receiver Braylon Edwards, who caught eight passes for 100 yards against the Steelers earlier this season:
"Braylon Edwards is playing really well. It kind of takes me back to the year that he had with Derek Anderson (for the Browns) my first year in the AFC North. He was a Pro Bowler. He made about every difficult catch that came his way. He was a big guy. He played to his personality. He made plays down the field. He is doing the same thing for the New York Jets this year."
What it means to be a Steeler:
Whether he has grown since his first playoff game:
"If you're not getting better, I don't care what business you're in, you're a dead man. I try to look critically at the mistakes that I make and try to learn from them, like our team does. I like to think that I am."
Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor professes a desire to cover the opponent's top receiver, and Santonio Holmes fits the bill for the New York Jets. Holmes, MVP of Super Bowl XLIII for the Steelers, had six receptions for 40 yards in the 22-17 victory over the Steelers on Dec. 19 at Heinz Field, but only two catches for 20 yards against Taylor. Holmes and Taylor's statistics this season:
Receiving yards: 746
Yards per catch: 14.3
Forced fumbles: 1
Passes defensed: 11
Eight is enough?
Injuries have forced the Steelers to start eight different players along the offensive line this season. Here is a breakdown of the games started by those players:
Lineman -- Starts -- Position(s)
Flozell Adams -- 17 -- RT
Maurkice Pouncey -- 17 -- C
Chris Kemoeatu -- 16 -- LG
Jonathan Scott -- 10 -- LT
Ramon Foster -- 9 -- RG-LG
Max Starks -- 7 -- LT
Trai Essex -- 5 -- RG
Doug Legursky -- 4 -- RG