This is a particularly joyous Thanksgiving weekend for the Adams family. Jon and Apryll Adams count their blessings every day, are thankful for the lives they have and understand that having a son, Josh, playing in the NFL for the hometown team is something truly special. Good things come to great people who work hard and give love and faith and work hard for everything they get.
It was not that long ago, in the spring on the final day of the NFL Draft, when Apryll Adams saw her son at his lowest point. All of the hard work he had put in with his training, with his recovery from a devastating ACL injury in his junior year of high school, the decision to leave Notre Dame after his junior season, it all seemed moot when seven rounds of the draft passed and Adams, hosting a party for coaches and family friends and loved ones at a Buffalo Wild Wings in Warminster, Pennsylvania didn't hear his name called.
"I have never seen him cry the way he did the day of the draft," Apryll Adams said. "It was like all of his hard work was for nothing. We sat in a public setting for hour after hour, round after round, and no mention of Josh Adams. When it was over, he put his head down on that table and cried. It was the worst feeling I've ever felt at that moment. I felt his pain."
Seven months later, the tears are gone. Adams signed with the Eagles immediately after the draft and, well, what a story he has become. A foot injury limited Adams leading into Training Camp, but he impressed once on the field. After the Eagles released Adams on the final roster cutdown to 53 players, he was added to the practice squad for all of two weeks before being promoted to the active roster. And since then, Adams has worked his way not only into the running back picture but into a position as the primary ballcarrier in the offense. Adams has 34 carries for 207 yards and a touchdown – a 28-yarder last week in New Orleans – and is averaging a robust 6.7 yards per carry.
"It is exciting, it's a thrill, and never in my wildest dreams did I think Josh would play for the Philadelphia Eagles," said Jon Adams, Josh's father. "It's still going through my mind that he's playing for his hometown team. It's hard to describe the feeling sometimes, looking down on the field and seeing Josh out there with the Eagles. To see him chase his dream and work so hard and get there and have the family there to back him, it's just been amazing."
Doesn't every parent whose son plays the game and dominates in youth football as Josh did with the Mt. Airy Bantams and then the Warminster Pioneers and then continues to rumble at Central Bucks South High School and then accepts a scholarship at a place like the hallowed Golden Dome of Notre Dame want to live the journey to the NFL? And with his hometown team? This is the stuff of dreams.
For the Adams family, it's all very real.
Jon and Apryll sit in the stands, Section 132, wearing their No. 33 Eagles jerseys – the age Jesus was when he went to the cross, says Apryll, who adds, "I think 33 is a blessed number" – with "Docter Adams" on the back, just the way Josh wants. "Docter" is the way Josh always wanted it, something different, his own take. That was his nickname as his game took off in ninth grade playing at Central Bucks South in Warrington, Pennsylvania.
"The whole town was talking about this Josh Adams," Apryll Adams said. "He was just doing so many special things on the football field."
Sunday will start early for Jon and Apryll Adams. They will get to Lincoln Financial Field early and maybe tailgate for a bit of time. Jon likes to get to his seat early to watch Josh warm up and Apryll needs some time to get ready for an emotional experience watching her son play against the Giants.
"I look at the game through the eyes of a mother. I told Josh, 'I'm still your mother. I know when you're tired. I know when you're sore. I know when you're out of breath. I know when you're frustrated.' That's how I look at it," Apryll said. "Of course, when he makes a touchdown or gets some yardage, I'm a spectator and I celebrate, but I'm praying. I'm praying that he doesn't get hurt, that's he's protected, that he runs fast, that he's elusive … I'm actually praying in my seat."
This is all so new, this NFL experience, so fun and so rewarding. Adams is just beginning his NFL career and, as the saying goes, it's just as difficult to stay in the league as it is to make it to the league. Adams is all business, always has been, and the work is paying off.
"I tell Josh, 'I'm so proud that you reached your dream but I'm more proud that you maintained your character, maintained your integrity,'" Apryll said. "I'm most proud that he maintained the person that I raised."
A weekend to remember started Thursday with a player's day off and dinner with Apryll and some family for Josh, and on Friday and Saturday the final stages of preparation are in place as the Eagles get ready for a must-win game. Josh is on the field. Jon and Apryll are in the stands. It's a family affair and it's something to be cherished.
"Having my family as part of this," Josh Adams says, "it just makes it that much sweeter for me. I've been dreaming of being in the NFL since I was in, like, sixth grade. I'm here now and I've got a lot of work to do to stay here and be the player I know I can be."