On June 1, fitness supplement company Optimum Nutrition launched a special initiative to offer professional advice and coaching for people focused on improving their health called “Building Better Lives.” The 35-year-old brand also made a pledge to provide resources to impoverished communities, and it partnered with two of the NFL’s top-flight wide receivers to start the program’s rollout in their respective hometowns.
- Davante Adams of the Green Bay Packers (hometown: East Palo Alto, CA)
made four straight appearances in the AFC–NFC Pro Bowl (from 2017 through 2020) and was last year’s receiving touchdowns leader.
- Justin Jefferson of the Minnesota Vikings (hometown: St. Rose, LA)
was voted Sporting News 2020 NFL Rookie of the Year, set the NFL record for most receiving yards by a rookie in league history, and was one of only two rookies named to last year’s Pro Bowl game.
In June, Davante Adams held a Building Better Lives community fitness event in East Palo Alto, and a few days prior CASSIUS got the chance to interview him and Justin Jefferson.
CASSIUS: Who were your role models when you were younger, both on and off the field?
Davante Adams: When I was growing up, I had many family members that I looked up to, both on and off the field, for guidance. My cousin was a standout player in football, and my dad was also a multi-sport standout. I also looked up to my favorite players (that I didn’t know personally) that were in the league. To be honest, most of the athletes I looked up to growing up were basketball players because at that time, basketball was my main focus, and then I got into football a little later.
Justin Jefferson: My biggest role models off the field would have to be my older brothers. I grew up watching them play and saw how much dedication and time they put into the game, and I definitely learned my work ethic from them. Practicing with them in the lot next to our house after school is something I’ll always cherish. As for on the field, my biggest role model would have to be Randy Moss. I remember always watching him growing up and just being amazed at how talented he was. It was such an honor to be able to sit down and talk with him. That is definitely a moment I will never forget.
C: What is the biggest misconception other people have of you?
DA: I think the biggest misconception other people have of me is that I’m not approachable. I’ve been told this, but in reality, I am a very approachable and friendly guy. I think it may come from the mantra that they see on the field or if they see me talking smack to the DBs every once in a while.
JJ: Since I wasn’t a highly recruited athlete, I think people have always doubted my ability. Saying I was too small and how I wasn’t fast enough. I always knew I was going to make it into the league, but it just took everyone else a little longer to see that. I think my rookie year has definitely shown everyone I not only belong in the league, but I’m also someone to watch.
C: If you weren’t in the NFL, what do you think you would be doing instead?
DA: If I wasn’t in the NFL, I would’ve hoped to be in the NBA. Basketball was my first love. I do wish I had two more inches vertically. Being 6′ 1″ in the NBA is almost like being 4′ 11″ in high school. If it were not sports, I would be into music. I love music. I play music during everything I do.
JJ: If I weren’t in the NFL, I would definitely be doing something in sports still. I played basketball in high school, so maybe something with that.
C: How instrumental have your wife and daughter been in motivating you to be a better person and in giving back to East Palo Alto, especially since you didn’t leave for the city of Palo Alto or somewhere else like Los Angeles?
DA: They play a huge role. My daughter has changed my life just by entering my life. She can only say a few words, but she has put things in perspective for me and helped me realize things I truly care about. She’s helped me to learn to stop stressing and learn what is important. For me, helping other people is what’s important and is something that comes naturally. My community has done so much for me growing up, so for me to be in a position to help people is a no-brainer. My wife has the same mentality.
East Palo Alto could be a tough place. There were a lot of ways I could get in trouble. Sports kept me focused – and, ultimately, I made my NFL dreams come true with the support of my community. I want to give back so other people from East Palo Alto can achieve their goals, too. That’s why I was excited to partner with Optimum Nutrition on the Building Better Lives Program. With their help, I’m going to be able to bring some permanent fitness resources to the community so kids and others can get fit and stay healthy. Maybe someone there now could be the next one up in the NFL.
C: What was lifelike for you and your family during Hurricane Katrina? How did that experience shape you into being the person you are today?
JJ: Hurricane Katrina was extremely devastating. To see my community go through that was one of the hardest things to experience. But it also showed me how strong my community is. Everyone banded together to help one another out, and it was a very special thing to witness and be a part of.
C: What is your favorite exercise/body part to work out and why? And what about your least favorite one?
DA: That’s a good question. I don’t really have a favorite body part to work out, but I think everyone loves upper body workouts because that is what “shows” the most. However, for me, I am an explosive guy. so the lower body is really crucial to the way that I move and the way that I play. My leg strength really helps me on the field with endurance and breaking tackles.
JJ: My favorite part to work out would be legs. I like to incorporate a bunch of dynamic movements and lifts, so I can’t pick a favorite exercise. Least favorite thing to work out would be my arms.
6. The 5-Week Fitness Challenge began on June 1, right after Memorial Day. We know you can’t say too much, but what can we expect from you? And what should the opposition, Team #ONTeamJett (or #TeamONE7), watch out for the most?
DA: Justin Jefferson and I have partnered with Optimum Nutrition to raise awareness of disparities in fitness resources and to promote fitness for all. We both grew up in places that didn’t have a lot of resources. So basically, we’re both repping our hometowns – East Palo Alto, California for me, and Saint Rose, Louisiana, for him.
There will be a bunch of fitness content – workout videos and educational materials – dropping on the ONBuildingBetterLives.com website every week this month. Every time someone does a workout, or posts to Twitter or Instagram with my hashtag #TeamONE7, they can throw points to me and East Palo Alto.
Based on how much fan support we each get, Justin and I could win an installation of outdoor fitness equipment for our hometown courtesy of Optimum Nutrition. I really want that equipment in East Palo Alto, so I hope everybody helps out. Plus, it’s a pride thing. I don’t want to get beaten on or off the field. But it’s cool to work with Justin on something that’s for the greater good.
JJ: I’m really excited to be part of the Optimum Nutrition Building Better Lives program and to team up with Davante Adams for a good cause. Optimum Nutrition is addressing the fact that a lot of communities, like my hometown of Saint Rose, don’t have the same kind of access to fitness resources as other places.
It’s the same in East Palo Alto, where Davante is from. So we’re in a little friendly competition to get fans rallying around the idea of fitness for all. People can log onto ONBuildingBetterLives.com and participate in workouts and other fitness education and earn points for me and Saint Rose. Or they can post on social media with #ONBulidingBetterLives and #TeamJett.
At the end of the month, we find out who rallied more support. I’m hoping all my fans will spot me some points. Ed Reed, who went to my same high school in Saint Rose, is building a great new park in town, and if I win, it’s going to have some brand new fitness equipment from Optimum Nutrition.
C: What are the top 3 songs you like to listen to during a great workout?
DA: I listen to so much music I absolutely cannot give just name three top songs. There are multiple artists that I like. When I work out, I like to listen to upbeat, faster-paced music. Gunna is a rapper that I love, and Migos just dropped a new album, so that is something I’ve been listening to. I also love a few local rappers from the Bay Area.
JJ: What are the top 3 songs you like to listen to when you’re relaxing after a hard day?
“Always Forever” – Bryson Tiller
“Miss The Rage” – Trippie Redd, Playboi Carti
“Solid” – Young Thug feat. Drake
C: How do you like to unwind when you’re not on the field, and you’re away from the team for a bit?
DA: I love to spend time with my family. I have been watching a lot of movies with my daughter recently – I pretty much know every title on Disney+ now. I also like to golf to unwind.
C: You speak about how, as children, your older brother would throw you passes in the lot next to your home. How instrumental were those experiences and that relationship in giving you the confidence to prove the naysayers wrong?
JJ: I think those experiences are what made me the athlete I am today. My brothers taught me how my time and effort needed to go into playing football. I definitely credit them for my work ethic and for always pushing me to be better.
C: Lastly, in ten words or less: What would you like your legacy to be when your football days have come to a close?
DA: I want to be known as the greatest.
JJ: To be the best wide receiver in the league.