Remembering Gaines Adams

I have a helmet on my shelf that was signed by Gaines Adams. Each time I look at it…I think about that amazing play he made against Wake Forest in 2006.

Clemson was trailing 17-3 at the end of the third quarter. Wake Forest was attempting a field goal to take a 20-3 lead, but let time run out in the third quarter before taking the snap.

After changing sides of the field, the botched snap was knocked in the air by Gaines Adams, who snagged the ball and ran it 66 yards for a TD. This sparked Clemson’s offense, scoring two more touchdowns and a field goal in the 4th quarter to tbeat the Demon Deacons 27-17.

That play was named one of the top four game-changing plays of 2006 by ESPN.

Clemson is playing Wake Forest this Thursday night in Winston Salem. I think many Clemson fans are thinking about that amazing play and remembering the life of Gaines Adams.

Gaines passed away tragically after going into cardiac arrest in January 2010. It shocked his family, the Clemson family, the Chicago Bears family, and so many people that knew and loved Gaines. I wish I was one of the fortunate ones to meet Gaines. My mother knew Gaines and had the helmet signed for me as Christmas gift.

This year, I was fortunate to work on a project for Clemson Letterwinners Association. Gaines was one of ten Clemson athletes to be inducted into this year’s Clemson Athletic Hall of Fame. When I learned Gaines was going to be one of the inductees, I spent lots of time thinking how could we tell his story.

Many times we try to tackle something from a 30,000 foot perspective, covering all aspects of a person’s life. Gaines was so gifted, with so many accolades both athletically and as a person…I knew it would be hard to fit it all into one 4 minute story.

So we decided to go micro, tell the one story very few people knew and one that really illustrated how one person could impact so many others.

Gaines’s high school coach was Steve Taneyhill. Yes, Steve Taneyhill! The last memory I have of Steve was when he was quarterback for the Gamecocks and he tore up the turf at Death Valley after beating us.

Steve and Gaines had a special relationship, a special friendship, and a special commitment to what they loved…they game of football. Steve is probably the reason why he chose Clemson. In the video above, Steve tells his story of watching Gaines play against the Gamecocks. Steve shares the internal debate he was having, trying to restrain his joy as he watched Gaines sack the Gamecock quarterback numerous times.

I hope you enjoy this story and I hope you will always remember Gaines for being Gaines.

I cherish the signed helmet on my mantel.

If you would like to watch all the Clemson Athletic Hall of Fame Stories from this year’s ceremony, CLICK HERE.

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