Davante Adams reveals he and Derek Carr almost died in whitewater rafting accident while in college


Davante Adams shocked the football world by joining the Raiders (who promptly signed him to a mammoth, $141-million extension) this offseason, abandoning the reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers for the siren song of Las Vegas. The trade reunited Adams with his former Fresno State teammate Derek Carr, a relationship that, thanks to a harrowing ordeal they experienced while in college, goes beyond the normal quarterback/receiver bond.

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As detailed in a profile for ESPN Magazine, Adams told Tim Keown he and Carr nearly died a decade ago while whitewater rafting on Kings River, watching their boat capsize amid dangerous rapids. “We almost died together,” said Adams of his near-death experience. “People don’t know that.”

Accompanied by Carr and his then-girlfriend (now wife) Heather, Adams wasn’t prepared for what he would encounter at Banzai Hole, a treacherous stretch of river that, due to melting from the Sierra Nevada, was unusually turbulent. The group’s guide, Ryan Soares, warned not to stop paddling, a piece of advice that, in retrospect, Adams and Carr should have followed more closely.

"I stopped paddling as soon as we got through there because, literally, we were going down,” said Adams, recalling the tense sequence that unfolded with all four passengers being thrown from the boat, taking what he believed to be his last breath. “[I thought] well, I guess this is where I die.”

Soares estimates the group had a 10-second window before being launched into a 75-foot rockface that would have killed them. Even after their narrow escape, miraculously making it back to shore, there was no way of getting back, leaving the four no choice but to finish their run.

“After we cleared the boat, we had a talk on the shore, one more time, about how important it is to never stop paddling,” said Soares. “From that point on, they were the best paddlers I ever had."

Adams and Carr have both gone on to highly successful (not to mention extremely lucrative) careers, though, if those 10 seconds had gone any differently, they might not have. Sunday’s opener in Los Angeles will be a rematch of last year’s regular season finale, an overtime thriller won by the Raiders, clinching their first playoff berth in five years while eliminating the Chargers in heartbreaking fashion.

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