Vernon Adams Jr. has finally earned his stripes as a bonafide CFL starting quarterback.
Although, because of COVID-19, his completion percentage is now reflected by how many bags of food he can safely place in the hands of customers.
The former University of Oregon star was featured by Ducks reporter Tyson Alger of The Athletic. It detailed his winding road to CFL success that included various backup stints, a brief conversion to receiver and being replaced by the infamous Johnny Manziel. To make ends meet during the pandemic, ‘Big Play VA’ has had to put football glory on hold and deliver for Uber Eats.
“I’ve slowed down a little bit and have been training a lot more,” Adams Jr. told Alger. “I was doing it just about every day in April and May. It’s a grind, but you can make pretty good money.”
Adams Jr. stated he can earn as much as $500 in a hard night’s work, but that is a far cry from what he was expecting to earn this season. The electric quarterback signed a three-year contract extension in January valued at $1.5 million dollars. He was set to make $435,000 in hard money in 2020, with the possibility for more with incentives. That is almost triple the estimated $150,000 he was paid in 2019.
Adams Jr. did receive a six-figure signing bonus, reported at $165,000 by 3DownNation insider Justin Dunk, when he signed, but he put half of that into post-career savings. Living off the rest remains difficult when trying to raise a family.
Adams Jr. had been one of the more vocal critics of the CFL’s handling of the coronavirus crisis and called on commissioner Randy Ambrosie to provide clarity for players and their families in early June. Two months have passed and nothing seems any more certain. He believes strongly that players should be paid a significant amount even if games are not played.
“We’re hearing so much. The CFL says it’s waiting on the (Canadian) government. The government says it’s waiting on the CFL. It’s going back and forth,” Adams Jr. said.
“We’re supposed to be nine weeks deep into the season with paycheques. We haven’t been paid yet. The coaches are being paid. Everyone is being paid. But we’re not.”
Delivering food is just one example of the many things that increasingly desperate CFL players are doing to make a living during the pandemic. If a season does occur, Adams Jr. sees a potential issue for young athletes trying to break into the league like he did due to the condensed timeline.
“If this was my rookie season, I probably wouldn’t be able to make the team,” he admitted. “It would be hard. You have to pick up things quickly.”
That isn’t an issue for Adams Jr. now that he is an experienced pro football veteran.
“No matter what, now I’ll be prepared. Whether it’s a six-week season, whatever it is, I’ll be ready,” he said.
If a deal is reached and the conditions are right, Adams will relish the opportunity to jump out from behind the wheel and back onto a football field.
“I’ve worked hard for it and now I can just go out there and be me and not look over my shoulder for another quarterback,” Adams Jr. said. “It’s me and I love that pressure. I love that feeling. I’m a winner and I’m going to do whatever I can.”