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Three Things To Know About The Making Of “ESPN Cover Story: Davante Adams”

Senior writer Tim Keown profiles the former Packers star Las Vegas is banking on this season: ". . . it wasn't until he started running routes in his game room that I realized just how much of a near-obsessive perfectionist he is about his profession."

Davante Adams (Gizelle Hernandez for ESPN)

The signature offseason trade that sent star NFL receiver Davante Adams from the Green Bay Packers to the Las Vegas Raiders can be traced to a commitment Adams has to his family and the on-field chemistry and off-field friendship with Raiders quarterback Derek Carr.

In this month’s ESPN Cover Story, senior writer Tim Keown explores Adams’ personal and professional journey to his new team and a reunion with his former Fresno State teammate Carr.

Keown tells Front Row what spurred the profile, a stirring story that didn’t make the final piece, and more.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Watch the video debut on Sept. 11 on Sunday NFL Countdown (10 a.m. ET | ESPN). More on this Cover Story

On how the story came together:
Davante was the perfect Cover Story athlete to kick off the NFL season, as he was the best player to change teams this offseason. Stacey Pressman, ESPN’s unparalleled talent scout, set out to make it happen.

I like to carve out some one-on-one time with the athlete before the bright Cover Story lights turn on. Davante and I met at his house for almost two hours. We talked about his childhood and how different it was from the childhood his children will experience.

It was immediately apparent that he is an introspective, insightful guy. Still, it wasn’t until he started running routes in his game room that I realized just how much of a near-obsessive perfectionist he is about his profession.

Davante Adams (Gizelle Hernandez for ESPN)

On favorite moments that didn’t make the piece:
Strangely, it’s about failure. He had a poor game on Thanksgiving Day his second year in Green Bay, while his mom was visiting. He said he wanted to quit football. When he got home, he sat in his room. “I sat up there and read Twitter, like an idiot,” he says now. “Just reading people telling me how terrible I am.”

That moment became a turning point. He didn’t quit; instead, he stopped looking outside for validation.

On takeaways for Cover Story’s audience:
We get so caught up in the idea that professional athletes have the perfect life that we can forget they have lives off the field. When Davante contemplated asking the Packers for a trade, football was secondary.

He had spent eight years traveling from Northern California to Green Bay every offseason. He would fly to Green Bay on Sunday and return on Thursday or Friday during many weeks, and then he and his wife, Devanne, had to pack the family up every summer and move them back for the season.

He’s not asking anyone to feel sorry for him, but he knows he made the right decision with the Raiders every time he rides his electric bike through his kitchen with his 2-year-old, Daija, in his lap.


Rebecca Hudson, Cover Story senior editor: “I remember the first time Tim told me about Davante and Derek’s white-water rafting adventure. I was on the edge of my seat, amazed at the gripping drama and detail he’d uncovered. “So yeah, I’ve got my lede,” he said. And that’s Tim, the ultimate story finder and storyteller. He was the perfect writer to bring Davante’s previously unknown stories to light.”

For more on ESPN Cover Story, visit ESPN Press Room

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