Thousands of high school, college and even professional football players owe their playing time to people of vision such as John Adams.
Three decades ago, Adams was an influential member of the NCAA Football Rules Committee when it adopted what might be considered the most significant change ever on how football was played.
“It had been a 25-year fight, but we finally went to unlimited substitution,” explained Adams. “A lot of people were against it. General Neyland (longtime Tennessee football coach Robert Neyland) hated two-platoon football. But I think that rule changed football more than any other.”
For most of today’s players, the game plans with specialists and offensive and defensive players are taken for granted. But before 1973, players had to play both offense and defense, and squads numbered about 40 instead of 100, as today.
His work on the Rules Committee, of which he was chairman in 1980 and 1981, his officiating, as well as his longtime position as supervisor of officials in the Western Athletic Conference, his coaching and participating has led Adams to being inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame, Class of 2000.
“I tabulated the changes made by the Rules Committee over the last 25 years, and 50 changes were made that benefited the offense, but just five were made to help the defense,” explained Adams. “We tried to limit the number of field goals, but kickers got better and better. We took away the tee, we put the ball back to the previous spot when a kick is missed and we narrowed the distance between the goal posts.”
He’s a Denver native, and while in high school at Denver East, he played football for legendary coach Pat Panek, and baseball for Chuck McGlone. He was All-City in both sports.
During his 76 years, Adams has been associated with the who’s who of sports in the area. He played a year at CU for coach Jim Yeager before going to military service in World War II. He returned and played at the University of Denver for coaches Mark Duncan and Cac Hubbard.
While at CU, he was a teammate of Walt Clay from Longmont and Clayton Lewis of Swink. “A lot of people talk about “Whizzer” White being the best, but I think Walt Clay was the best athlete to ever come out of Colorado,” Adams continued. “He could do everything.”
Adams coached 14 years in Denver, coaching baseball at Denver West and football at Lincoln. While at Lincoln, he was associated with Ben Dreith and longtime friend, Pat Haggerty, both prominent officials in the National Football League.
A lot of people were against it. General Neyland (longtime Tennessee football coach Robert Neyland) hated two-platoon football. But I think that rule changed football more than any other.