In Flozell Adams' 12 years with the Dallas Cowboys, was the word joy ever put in the same sentence as his name?
On the first day of Super Bowl week, Mike Tomlin managed to do it.
"Flozell is a joy to be around," the Pittsburgh Steelers coach said. "It might sound funny, because he doesn't always have a great disposition. But we enjoy that about him, too."
The Steelers clearly have a lot of affection for the 6-foot-7, 338-pound veteran tackle. His fellow offensive linemen got some throwback Michigan State jerseys and wore them on the flight to Texas as a nod to Adams, who joined the team as a free agent right before training camp last summer.
"When I got there this morning, I think I was the second-to-last O-lineman there, they all had them on," Adams said, smiling as he talked to reporters at the Omni Fort Worth Hotel, where the Steelers are staying. "I said, 'Whoa, what's that?'"
It was thanks: Thanks for stepping in at right tackle for Willie Colon, who tore an Achilles' tendon in a summer workout. Thanks for providing leadership with the younger players. Thanks for being a pro.
"The thing that's probably the most impressive about Flozell is, his intentions have been so pure since the day that he joined our football team," Tomlin said. "Here's a guy who's made some money in this league, who's garnered some accolades in this league -- five- or six-time Pro Bowler, what have you. This guy just wants to win, and he has brought that mentality and approach since Day One.
"He's a veteran player. He doesn't ask out of anything. He works extremely hard. He has a can-do attitude. All of those things endear him to his teammates."
Adams said he wasn't trying to endear himself to anybody. He was just trying to fit in -- he was changing teams and positions for the first time in his career. Until then, he had played only left tackle.
"I just asked a lot of questions," he said. "Like, what do you guys do? How do you do it? Where do you do it? I talked to the coaches, as well. Learning the offense.... Techniques, moving to right tackle. I studied film after we had our normal sessions, went over plays, the whole shebang like I was a rookie. I wasn't mad at it or anything. I just took it in stride, and I knew it was what I had to do to succeed in the transition, and that's what I did."
Adams said he had some rough training-camp moments when he'd make a mistake in footwork or use an old habit from his left-tackle days. But Tomlin gave him time.
"He knew what I could do," Adams said. "A couple of times, he'd just look at me like, 'Well?' I'd be like, 'Coach, I need to work. I need to work a little harder this week.' He'd say, 'Well, just get some extra stuff in after practice,' and that's what I did."
Now Adams gets a chance to play in a Super Bowl. Not only that, he's a starter with the confidence of his team behind him. He's got the shirt to prove it.
"He's been a mentor to all of the offensive linemen," receiver Hines Ward said. "He is kind of their father figure, their big brother. It was a great respect for the offensive line to do that for Flo."
Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7407