Who was ex-49er, Raider Phillip Adams, who shot and killed 5, then himself?

Phillip Adams, the gunman who killed five people before killing himself Thursday in South Carolina, was remembered as somewhat of a loner while with the 49ers and Raiders during his nomadic NFL career.

Not much was known about Adams during the six years he spent in the NFL with six different teams, which began in 2010 when the 49ers picked the former South Carolina State defensive back in the seventh and final round of the NFL Draft.

And even less was revealed about him in his post-NFL career — until news of the mass shooting he perpetrated in his hometown of Rock Hill, S.C. surfaced Wednesday.

“I can say he’s a good kid — he was a good kid, and I think the football messed him up,” Adams’ father, Alonzo Adams, told WCNC-TV in Charlotte, N.C. “He didn’t talk much and he didn’t bother nobody.”

Alonzo Adams confirmed to WCNC-TV that his son took his own life after shooting six people, killing five. One person was reported in serious condition from wounds suffered Wednesday.

Robert Lesslie, 70, a prominent doctor who had treated Adams was among the victims of the mass shooting in Rock Hill, S.C. The doctor’s wife and grandchildren were also reportedly shot and killed.

“All I can say is we pray for the family,” Alonzo Adams said. “He used to be my doctor a long time ago. I know they were good folks down there. We’re gonna keep them in our prayers.”

49ers Phillip Adams runs for a touchdown in the second quarter at McAfee Coliseum in Oakland, Calif. on Saturday, August 28, 2010. The San Francisco 49ers played the Oakland Raiders in preseason play. (Jim Gensheimer/Mercury News) 

Phillip Adams, a Rock Hill native, had holed himself up in his mother’s nearby home for hours after the shootings, before finally turning his .45-caliber weapon on himself early Thursday.

No immediate motive was revealed but Adams’ father blamed his son’s rampage on the effects of the 32-year-old’s football career that included multiple concussions. As a member of the Raiders in 2012, Adams suffered two concussions over a three-game span, then incurred a season-ending groin injury the following week.

Scott Casterline, a longtime NFL agent who represented Adams, told the Associated Press his client often isolated himself during his playing career. But he was stunned when he received a voicemail from Adams’ father about the deadly incident.

“He was part of my family. I loved him. He’s a great kid, a great guy. This is so unlike him. He had to not be in his right mind, obviously,” Casterline said. “All of us who knew Phillip are shaking our heads. He struggled away from the game. I tried to get him to come to Texas. I was going to find him a job, but he wouldn’t leave South Carolina because he had a son. He was a good father.

“Seeing Phillip shoot two kids, it’s not him. I can’t fathom it. It’s devastating for the victims and the families,” Casterline said.

Adams, though, had prior troubles with authorities. The most serious came in 2009, when he was charged with simple assault and battery. He was acquitted of the charge in a bench trial, according to South Carolina court records. Records also show Adams was convicted of several York County (S.C.) traffic charges, including driving under suspension and failure to maintain proof of insurance.

There was plenty of hope for Adams when he began his career, despite not being selected until the seventh round. He couldn’t have been happier to be playing for then-49ers coach Mike Singletary.

While a 49ers rookie, Adams was effusive when asked by his hometown paper years ago what it was like to play for the Hall of Fame linebacker.

“Honestly, it’s an honor,” Adams said. “He’s an inspiration to play for both on and off the field. He’s teaching me how to be a man and a professional athlete, which has been so helpful for me.

“He’s someone you can believe in as a player, and that’s all you can really ask for. My dad loves him. As a kid I can remember watching ESPN Classic and seeing him play, so I knew who he was before I got here.”

Adams praised the 49ers’ coaching staff for installing confidence in him.

“I worked hard and I found a coaching staff that believed in me,” Adams said. “A lot of NFL coaches kind of look down on guys coming from Division I-AA, but they had an open mind about me when I got to camp. I try to play with a lot of confidence, a little swagger, because I want the coaches to trust me that I’ll get the job done.”

Adams appeared in 15 games as a 49ers rookie in 2010 before sustaining a broken ankle. Then Singletary was fired after the 49ers went just 6-10 and replaced by Jim Harbaugh.

A voice message left Thursday on a cell phone number associated with Singletary was not immediately returned.

The 49ers cut Adams prior to the 2011 season, which kicked off a flurry of transactions for the second-year cornerback. Adams wound up getting cut and signed a total of eight times by three different teams during a three-month period in 2011, while playing six games with the New England Patriots and one with the Seattle Seahawks that season.

Adams, who also spent time with the New York Jets (2014) and Atlanta Falcons (2015), suffered a number of injuries in the NFL, including the multiple concussions in 2012 with Oakland.

In fact, concussions were about the only category the Raiders led the NFL in during 2012, when they went 4-12. According to Frontline, the Raiders’ 12 reported concussions were the most in the league that year. Adams, fellow defensive back Matt Giordano and guard Mike Brisiel each had two reported concussions.

Adams made his first two NFL starts while with the Raiders’ last-place team in 2012, and was arguably the best cornerback on Oakland’s 28th-ranked defense that year. He had a career-best two interceptions and five passes defensed that season. Adams also served as the Raiders’ punt returner in 2012, gaining 139 yards on his 25 returns.

Former Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie mostly remembered Adams as a hard worker.

“I remember him being appreciative; a gracious that-he-was-on-the-team kind of guy,” McKenzie told USA Today on Thursday. “A very hard worker … I never had a coach, trainer, strength coach or teammate say they had any issue with him. He was a non-issue guy. He just wasn’t talented enough. That’s why he bounced around. He got opportunities, though, because he worked hard.”

Adams wound up playing 31 of his 78 NFL games with Oakland, which was more than twice as many game than he played with any other team.

Staff writer Cam Inman contributed to this report.

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Author: Jon Becker


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