Anthony “Spice” Adams played nine seasons in the NFL. He spent his first four seasons in San Francisco on the 49ers defensive line, and finished the remaining five seasons of his career in Chicago with the Bears.
Playing an interior defensive line position does not bring the fame and notoriety that even a defensive end would garner, much less a skill position player on offense.
Yet Spice is one of the most recognizable “sports celebrities” on the internet.
Surely you’ve heard of Spice, or should I say Cream E Biggums, one of his many alter egos.
I wasn’t sure who I was going to meet on an overcast Tuesday afternoon earlier this month.
The setting was a sprawling 3,400 square foot studio space in downtown Manhattan. There were couches and a coffee table set aside to one corner with a flat screen TV, resembling a typical modern living room. It was all next to a makeshift basketball court.
At the far end of the immaculately lit space with exposed brick was an automatic garage door.
Then it happened.
The jarring sound of the garage door creaking open filled the cavernous space, as the undeniable pop synth beats to the classic jam “Candy,” by funk group Cameo, blared through the inconspicuous sound system.
On the other end of the garage door stood the six foot, 280 plus pounds, short shorts wearing, rec spec rocking, knee sock having, recreation basketball player Biggums.
It was quite an entrance for Biggums, he showed off his ball handling and deft agility around the court, before coming over to greet me and talk about his aspirations to make the NBA.
Adams, I mean Biggums, isn’t serious about making the NBA or is he?
Like those who truly understand sports. He sees his internet videos and content creation the same way he saw playing football.
“I realized that football was a form of entertainment so I had that from [age] 18-32,” said Adams. “Then I started doing social media videos and everybody started to like it. I thought, this was it!”
With a nickname like “Spice” it’s easy to assume the charming and charismatic athlete would be like a fish to water on social media.
It wasn’t an obvious route for him at first.
Despite "always wanting to entertain," he was wary of the various public platforms initially.
“A lot of my teammates [at the time] were on social media, heavy. I never was on it. I thought it was stupid. I’m not going to put my thoughts on a tweet and have people judge me on what I’m thinking at the time. This is dumb. But they told me, ‘man you’re built for social media.’ I didn’t see it,” Adams continued.
“But I got on there and it was fun, I started really liking it and I created that video [Stuff Free Agents Say] and then I reached out to my teammates, Chris Harris, Earl Bennett and those guys and they were like ‘what we see in the locker room every day nobody gets to see it. Put it out.’ So I put it out, and the response was crazy.”
This was towards the end of Adams’ career. He was released by the Chicago Bears in 2012 and knew retirement was imminent.
As the story goes, it was March of 2013 and he was driving with his wife and they passed by a White Castle restaurant. The light bulb immediately went off, and Adams knew how he would announce his retirement.
A press conference in an empty fast food restaurant. The video was a hit and went viral within minutes as Adams recalls.
“I did the retirement video and everybody picked it up. As soon as I pressed enter on the keyboard, the ESPN assignment desk called and asked if they could use it. I said yes, and by the time I made it from my home office to the living room,” said Adams. “Trey Wingo was talking about it. I was like ‘WHAT?!’ I just said they could use it and within 30 minutes, they’re talking about it. Then I check my email on Yahoo and it was on their front page. I went viral.”
Adams is a man in his element when he’s making others laugh. His personality is as large as he is and its infectious.
The viral moments, alter egos, and faux magazine photo shoots have made him an internet celebrity.
Between his various social media accounts he has over 3 million followers. For a man that played defensive tackle that’s beyond impressive.
His ability to understand what makes people laugh and the authenticity of his content is what drew in companies like Samsung.
Adams works with the company’s Galaxy Tab S6 to create content for Biggums, including his new NBA workout video he asked me to share with NBA commissioner Adam Silver.
Adams says anytime you can make a dollar after the league, it’s a win. He will continue creating content and capitalize on any opportunities that come his way, as long as he can entertain.
Adams has appeared on The Rock’s HBO series, Ballers as well as Comedy Central’s Detroiters. He’s done commercials, and even a stand-up comedy routine at the Laugh Factory in Chicago,
For many athletes, that post career transition can be tough, but Adams is succeeding by being himself.
“This is my business. I feel like I’m in my wheelhouse. I talk to a lot of guys all the time about making that transition. I’ve been fortunate enough to have football as my background so I can reach out to a Michael Strahan and he can give me nuggets. What we do is, we don’t have any lanes. We create our own lanes. Listening to him and other guys who came before me, just giving me gems here and there, I think I’m able to take whatever they teach me and apply it to what I have going on. It’s been fun. I’m being me. I’m not around here being fake and being someone that I’m not, Adams concluded.”
Before we wrapped, Biggums wanted me to get the real feel of what he can do on the court, so we engaged in a live drill.
Biggums displayed his top level conditioning, working off multiple picks and I hit him with a pass right in his shooting pocket.
That request from Cream to send his video to Adam Silver is still pending.
Jarod Hector is a New York City born-and-raised sports and pop culture enthusiast. A multimedia content creator & host who enjoys nuanced discussions of the intersection between sports, culture, and society. He believes My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is the greatest album of the past 20 years, and says if you root for billionaire owners over millionaire athletes you're part of the problem. You can find him on Twitter and Instagram @jshector.