Meet the man in charge of the Commanders' practice playlist originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
At Washington Commanders training camp, almost everyone — from Ron Rivera to Carson Wentz to Curtis Samuel to the undrafted players who make up the third-string offense and defense — is under pressure for one reason or another.
Mike Adams, however, might just feel it more than anyone.
That’s because Adams, whose official title with the franchise is assistant video director, is also unofficially known as the squad’s practice DJ. In other words, he faces the daily, near-impossible task of curating and blasting songs that will satisfy an entire NFL roster.
“I’m a lover of music,” Adams told NBC Sports Washington in an interview. “So I would like to think I have a pretty good array and I know what people like.”
Adams is entering his 13th season with the organization and, he estimates, his seventh or eighth as the man in charge of the tunes that fill the Ashburn sky during warmups and individual drills in the summer, fall and winter.
He first assumed the role when Jay Gruden was the club’s head coach — the guy ahead of him on the depth chart was benched for having too explicit of a playlist and Adams was “Johnny on the spot” — and he maintained his position once Rivera arrived. Adams takes it seriously, too.
Really, really seriously.
According to Adams, he’ll construct the day’s trove of tracks once his primary morning duties in the video department are finished. Typically, it takes him 30 to 45 minutes to cobble it all together — hey, he cares — and his goal is to have enough hits to last through the pre-practice stretching, the position-specific workouts and, just to be safe, a little of full-team activities.
And when it comes to Adams’ devotion to the ditties, that’s only the first verse.
Once the games begin to count, Adams will often help Rivera’s charges prep for road trips by selecting artists from the city Washington is set to travel to. As he described it, his aim is to “give them a little bit of history about where we’re going.”
Before matchups with the Eagles, for example, Adams will mix in the Philly-born Meek Mill and Freeway. When a date with the Giants in New York is approaching, meanwhile, he’ll deploy the likes of Jay-Z and DMX.
Lastly, he prefers to cap each week with a “Funky Friday.” Those sessions are tailored with a more old-school focus in mind and tend to feature a lot of Motown.
Yet, despite Adams’ constant grinding, he inevitably will hear complaints from the Commanders from time to time. Everyone’s a critic, you know?
“We need some more YoungBoy [Never Broke Again],” Kam Curl declared. “That’s all I’m going to say.”
“The playlist, it’s pretty up and down,” Sam Howell chimed in. “They should play some more Lil Wayne, some old Lil Wayne.”
Even those who try to salute Adams for his taste end up chiming in with a recommendation.
“I mess with the music,” Curtis Samuel said. “It’s straight. I mean, we need more New York music. We’ve got everybody.”
Those who offer Adams the most suggestions, though, are Chase Young and Daron Payne. Adams’ main gig entails spending many hours with the defense, so Young and Payne are awfully familiar with him and the power he holds.
“If they don’t like a song, they’ll tell me, ‘Next,'” Adams said.
Yet a former dominant offensive lineman, per Adams, would be far more aggressive than that.
“Sometimes [Trent Williams] would come over and grab the phone,” Adams said. “He let it be known quickly, ‘Change it.’ Trent was a guy that definitely stayed on my head a lot back from those times.”
Much like a coach who builds his scheme around a principal philosophy — speaking of which, Adams revealed that offensive coordinator Scott Turner pushes him for more Future — Adams consistently leans on hip hop music to lead the way.
Now, he will go against his own tendencies on occasion — a decision that isn’t always welcomed.
“We put some country on,” he said. “Some of the younger guys, yeah, that doesn’t get everyone up.”
But to Adams’ credit, an onlooker can scan the field at the team’s facility in Virginia during any given practice and find that the overwhelming majority of those on it are dancing, bobbing their heads or singing along to his picks. That, to him, is a signal that he’s executing his assignment.
“I can give them a little juice,” he said.