Anthony Adams hasn’t been back to the Bay Area since his Chicago Bears played at Candlestick Park in 2009, three years after he left the 49ers, but he hasn’t forgotten the delights that it offers.
“Is that Hilton still right there on the corner (of Tasman Drive and Great America Parkway)?” he asked.
I confirmed that the hotel hasn’t gone anywhere. “Oh, man, they got the best Caesar salad ever! We used to have training camp there. We stayed there. And you know what, that’s where I started racking up my Hilton points. We’d stay there, what, two weeks, three weeks at a time, for what? Four years? Man, my points was through the roof!”
Adams had more questions. “They still got Togo’s out there?”
Yes, I said, right there on Great America Parkway, a few blocks from Levi’s Stadium — a structure Adams has never seen in person.
“Oh, man. I used to have to get all type of sub sandwiches for the team, my rookie year,” Adams said. “I’ll never forget Togo’s. Togo’s and Jamba Juice, and this place called Jonathan’s off of 101 that I used to have to go to, and Popeye’s chicken. Used to have to get so many buckets of chicken, and apple pie. And sometimes you were about to miss the flight because you were gonna get Popeye’s. And the vets don’t care that you’re about to miss the flight: ‘Did you get the Popeye’s?’”
This patter may sound familiar to anyone who has watched “The Great American Baking Show” on ABC (which Adams hosts with Ayesha Curry, Stephen’s wife), or certain episodes of “Ballers” on HBO, or the Big Ten Network or the content on chicagobears.com. He has a lot of irons in the fire these days. Most of us, though, know Anthony “Spice” Adams as the star of his own videos. In one goofy corner of the internet, the man is a legend.
“Spice?” 49ers left tackle Joe Staley said, his face brightening. “Everyone watches Spice.”
You have probably either never seen a Spice Adams video or have seen dozens of them. He’s kind of his own subculture. If you are unfamiliar, you should probably skip over to spiceadams.com and click on the YOUTUBE button. There you will find such classics as “Family Members at the Barbecue” and “The ‘Get on the Line’ Coach.” All of them pitch-perfect.
Adams’ frivolity masks a difficult childhood. He grew up in a rough neighborhood in east Detroit, raised mostly by a single mother.
“In 1984 my father was arrested and charged with being an accomplice in an armed robbery,” Adams wrote for The Players’ Tribune in 2016. “From the moment my mother received the midnight call from my father in jail, our lives changed dramatically. Money was already low, and in that instant our dreams of moving to a better neighborhood were dashed completely. After my dad was convicted and sentenced to 26 years, the only thing on our mind was survival.”
Humor was one way Adams and his mom, Connie Davis, survived. It was certainly how Anthony, an only child, made friends.
“I’d always try to put on a show so people would want to come back over to my house,” Adams said by phone from Chicago, where he lives with his wife and four children. “Because otherwise I’m gonna be there by myself. So I always wanted to do something silly or do something funny, so people would say, ‘Hey, let’s go over to Anthony’s house. I wonder what he’s gonna do today?’”