Despite the unfortunate end to Adam Archuleta’s NFL career, he made an indelible mark as the St. Louis Rams‘ strong safety from 2001 to 2005.
Although Archuleta never became a Pro Bowler, he became one of the pillars of the Rams’ defense during that span.
Archuleta racked up 351 solo tackles, three interceptions, one pick-six, three fumbles, five fumble recoveries, and two fumble recoveries for touchdowns during his time in Rams’ royal blue and gold.
When Archuleta signed a six-year, $30 million deal with the Washington Redskins prior to the 2006 NFL season, he became the league’s highest-paid safety at the time.
Many pundits envisioned Archuleta and free safety Sean Taylor becoming a force on their defense for many years to come.
Regrettably, that scenario never played out.
Archuleta spent a combined two forgettable seasons with the Redskins and Chicago Bears before playing his final down in the National Football League in the 2007 NFL campaign.
Although Archuleta’s career ended on a sour note, he remains one of the most memorable draft acquisitions in St. Louis Rams’ franchise history.
Adam Jason Archuleta was born to parents Albert and Vange in Rock Springs, WY on November 27, 1977.
Both of Archuleta’s parents worked as engineers, per the Arizona State Sun Devils’ official athletics website.
Adam Archuleta attended Chandler High School in Chandler, AZ. He excelled as a running back and defensive back for Chandler Wolves head football coach Jerry Loper.
Archuleta met his trainer Jay Schroeder in his junior year in high school. According to The Washington Post’s Jason La Canfora, Archuleta found out about Schroeder after he read an article about him.
Archuleta summoned the courage to approach Schroeder at a local fitness center. The 50-year-old Schroeder thought the 17-year-old high school junior was too brash. He told Archuleta in no uncertain terms he wasn’t welcome in his gym after their conversation.
Ironically, Schroeder still drew up a fitness program for Archuleta to follow. It was the start of a professional relationship that continued well into Adam Archuleta’s pro football career.
Schroeder left no stone unturned in Archuleta’s program. The latter had to keep tabs on his nutrition, sleep, lifting techniques, the time he took to complete the workout, and how his body felt afterward.
Not only did Archuleta comply, but he also went the extra mile – he followed Schroeder’s program consistently.
Archuleta’s dedication made Schroeder change his mind. The latter began training the young upstart in Mesa, AZ every day.
Their workout sessions typically lasted six to seven hours. One of Archuleta’s regular chest exercises was a bench press where he let the weight drop near his chest before lifting the bar to full extension.
Schroeder trained Archuleta’s entire body daily. He didn’t allot specific muscle groups to certain days of the week. Schroeder also incorporated stretching into the program’s main exercises.
Even back in Adam Archuleta’s high school days, Jay Schroeder designed his program in such a way that he would exceed expectations leading to the 2001 NFL Draft.
“Jay told me right away that he’s not trying to make me Superman in my senior year of high school,” Archuleta told The Washington Post some twelve years later. “He said, ‘This is my goal, this is my vision for you, and it’s all going to really start happening when you’re 23, 24 years old.'”
Just as Archuleta was beginning his NFL odyssey in high school, he became a two-time All-Central Region and two-time All-State Honorable Mention selection at Chandler High School.
Regrettably, Adam Archuleta didn’t receive any college scholarships as his high school days wound down.
However, he remained in-state and became a walk-on at Arizona State University in the next phase of his gridiron journey.
College Days With The Arizona State Sun Devils
Adam Archuleta attended Arizona State University from 1996 to 1999. He majored in interdisciplinary studies.
Archuleta struck up a friendship with Sun Devils linebacker Pat Tillman during their time together at Arizona State. Tillman, a fitness enthusiast like Archuleta, eventually suited up for the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals from 1998 to 2001.
Tillman enlisted in the Army in 2002 – Archuleta’s second year in the National Football League. The former was killed in the line of duty in Afghanistan two years later.
Archuleta redshirted his true freshman season at Arizona State in 1996. He had 17 tackles as a reserve linebacker and special teams member in the 1997 NCAA season.
Arizona State won nine games in head football coach Bruce Snyder’s sixth year at the helm.
— Dan Trujillo (@pixelmandan) January 20, 2017
After the Sun Devils failed to play in a bowl game for seven consecutive seasons, they made it to a bowl game for the second straight year. Sixteenth-ranked Arizona State beat the Iowa Hawkeyes in the 1997 Sun Bowl, 17-7.
Archuleta started as a linebacker for Snyder for the next three seasons. Arizona State regressed in Archuleta’s last three years in Tempe, AZ. The Sun Devils averaged six wins per year from 1998 to 2000 and lost in the Aloha Classic for two straight seasons.
Nevertheless, Archuleta earned the second of consecutive First-Team All-Pac 10 selections. He also emerged as the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year following the 2000 NCAA season.
Finally, Archuleta became a finalist for the Butkus Award, an accolade given to the best linebacker in the college football ranks.
Archuleta finished his four-year stint with the Sun Devils with 202 solo tackles, 14.0 sacks, six fumble recoveries, and five forced fumbles.
He considered his Arizona State experience one of his best investments.
“My entire ASU experience kind of set the foundation for the rest of my life,” Archuleta told Christina Fankhanel of the Sun Devils’ official athletics website in February 2021.
Adam Archuleta’s metamorphosis from a skinny 17-year-old high school junior to NFL aspirant was now complete. He eventually put his hard training to good use and become an integral part of the St. Louis’ Rams defense from 2001 to 2005.
Pro Football Career
The St. Louis Rams made Adam Archuleta the 20th overall selection of the 2001 NFL Draft.
Archuleta’s training with his trainer Jay Schroeder had paid massive dividends by the time the 2001 NFL Scouting Combine kicked off.
The 6’0″, 210-lb. Archuleta had a lean, muscular physique at the time of the combine. He set a new defensive back record of 31 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press. Archuleta also finished the 40-yard dash with a time of 4.37 seconds, per La Canfora.
Archuleta eventually put on an additional 13 pounds of muscle mass during the pinnacle of his seven-year NFL career. He put his strong, muscular frame to good use as one of the pillars of the Rams’ defense.
Archuleta was already a CBS Sports football analyst when he told The Big Lead’s Ryan Phillips some 20 years later about his draft day experience with the Rams.
Rams head coach Mike Martz took him out to lunch the day after his Pro Day wrapped up. Martz told him St. Louis could make him the 20th overall selection if the team traded quarterback Trent Green to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Fast forward to a day before the 2001 NFL Draft, Martz’s prediction came true – the Rams dealt Green to Kansas City and St. Louis plucked Archuleta from the draft pool.
Archuleta told Phillips he was at his mom’s house hanging out with close family members and peers on draft day. By his estimate, twelve to fifteen people showed their wholehearted support for him.
Archuleta and his inner circle experienced a tense moment an hour before the draft festivities kicked off.
For some unknown reason, the phone lines at Archuleta’s mom’s house went dead. There was virtually no other way for NFL teams to reach him in 2001.
Fortunately, they found a fax line that worked. Archuleta immediately rang up his agent, who, in turn, told all NFL teams his client was alive just in case they were wondering why nobody was answering his phone, per The Big Lead.
Archuleta projected himself getting drafted at the No. 20 overall spot and beyond. He figured the Oakland Raiders, Denver Broncos, or Indianapolis Colts could snag him somewhere between the 20th and 30th overall selections.
PWHOFOTD #5 – St Louis Rams Safety Adam Archuleta pic.twitter.com/DV7SAXecDt
— Peter Warrick Hall of Famer of the Day (@pwhofotd) February 12, 2018
In the end, Archuleta wound up with none of those three teams. He officially became a St. Louis Ram in the spring of 2001.
Archuleta, who put in the work dating back to his high school days in Arizona just so he could get to this point, was elated.
“Just imagine everything you’ve ever wanted for your life and the work that you put in is finally coming true,” Archuleta told Phillips 20 years later. “It’s a wave of emotion that would be impossible to replicate.”
When Archuleta did his press conference and checked into his hotel in St. Louis, MO, the feeling still hadn’t sunk in.
In the back of his mind, he beat out other aspirants with better pedigrees. Despite receiving no college scholarships and eventually walking on at Arizona State, Adam Archuleta had beaten all odds and made it to the National Football League ranks.
Archuleta got off to a great start in his NFL career. He had 43 solo tackles, 2.0 sacks, two forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery in twelve games as St. Louis’ starting strong safety in the 2001 NFL season.
The Rams won an impressive 14 games that year. Unfortunately, they fell to Tom Brady’s New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVI, 20-17.
Nonetheless, Adam Archuleta made it known to everybody that he had arrived. The Football News and Pro Football Weekly named him to their All-Rookie squads for the 2001 NFL campaign.
Over the next four seasons, Archuleta racked up 304 solo tackles, 13.0 sacks, three interceptions, one pick-six, two forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries for a touchdown.
St. Louis averaged eight wins per year from 2002 to 2005. The Rams never made it past the NFC Divisional Round during that four-year time frame.
As Archuleta’s time in St. Louis wound down, he met glamour model Jennifer Walcott at a party in Las Vegas, NV. They eventually got married five years later.
— Adam Archuleta (@AdamArchuleta) February 26, 2017
The Rams’ emphasis on offense eventually wore thin on Archuleta after his fifth season in the National Football League.
At that point in Archuleta’s pro football career, he wanted to suit up for a team that emphasized defense, per La Canfora.
Enter Washington Redskins defensive coordinator and assistant head coach Gregg Williams, one of the most renowned defensive minds in the game. Williams recruited Archuleta hard following the 2005 NFL season.
The Redskins eventually signed Archuleta to a lucrative six-year, $30 million contract including a $5 million signing bonus in the spring of 2006.
The deal made Archuleta the highest-paid safety in NFL history at the time, per The Washington Post’s Matt Breen.
Many envisioned Archuleta beefing up the Redskins defense that also featured rising star, Sean Taylor.
Sadly, Archuleta never panned out in the nation’s capital. He failed to live up to lofty expectations – he played so bad Redskins head coach Joe Gibbs demoted him to special teams at the season’s midway point.
Archuleta reached an unprecedented low in his pro football career when Gibbs yanked him out of the starting lineup in October 2006. The Redskins signed former Buffalo Bills defensive back Troy Vincent to take his place that month, per The Washington Post’s Jason La Canfora.
When Vincent injured his hamstring in the Redskins’ 20-17 road loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on November 19, 2006, Gibbs refused to send Archuleta onto the field. Instead, the latter languished on the bench all game long and watched Vernon Fox fill in for Vincent.
Archuleta’s agent Gary Wichard told La Canfora the Redskins turned his client – who he claimed hasn’t changed as a player – into “a scapegoat.”
Archuleta claimed he could’ve maximized his potential had the Redskins asked him to play closer to the line of scrimmage as their fourth linebacker. However, Gibbs and Co. wanted him to play him as a traditional safety, per Breen.
Alas, the ploy backfired.
“If you try to change who I am as a player and what got me there, you’re not going to get a good return,” Archuleta told Breen in the summer of 2012.
Archuleta’s struggles in Washington didn’t just change the trajectory of his pro football career; they also made him miserable off the gridiron.
Archuleta confessed to Breen he felt miserable and depressed during his one-year stint with the Redskins. He even compared the experience to death and aptly summed it up in a few words.
Archuleta told The Washington Post that his brief tenure in the nation’s capital in 2006 was the “relative worst year of my life.”
Adam archuleta pic.twitter.com/r8jqAlX8Ir
— JASON 🤼♂️🏈👈🏼⛓ (@JasonKe34830171) May 14, 2022
Fortunately, Archuleta pulled himself together and realized life had more to offer him several years later.
Archuleta revealed to Arizona Sports 620’s “Burns and Gambo” radio program (via ArizonaSports.com’s Adam Green) in the spring of 2012 that Williams – who was implicated in the infamous “Bountygate Scandal” with the New Orleans Saints – stirred controversy behind the scenes in the nation’s capital.
“It was actually organized and done by Gregg, and it was more for the entire defense,” Archuleta confided. “And one of the things that was on there was ‘knockout hits’ or knocking somebody out of the game.”
Apparently, “Bountygate” existed several years before it even made national headlines.
According to Archuleta, Williams gave out the money during his meetings with the Redskins defensive players on Saturday evenings.
At the time, Archuleta thought it was Williams’ strategy of making Washington’s defense more menacing and intimidating. He even thought it was fun to witness who among his teammates received extra money after watching the defense’s highlight reels.
The Redskins, who won just five games in 2006, traded Adam Archuleta to the Chicago Bears prior to the 2007 NFL season.
Archuleta’s fortunes weren’t much better in the Windy City. He started 10 games for Bears head coach Lovie Smith in 2007.
With Archuleta in tow, Chicago won just seven games and bowed out of postseason contention that year. It was a far cry from their memorable 2006 NFL season when they had won thirteen games and reached Super Bowl XLI.
Perpetrators allegedly poisoned Archuleta’s then-girlfriend Jennifer Walcott’s two chihuahuas in Chandler, AZ in February 2008. Archuleta’s mother Vange took care of the two dogs whenever he and Walcott were out of town.
The Chicago Bears eventually released Adam Archuleta on May 6, 2008.
The Oakland Raiders, who envisioned Archuleta thriving at the linebacker position, signed him three months later. Unfortunately, they released him just before the 2008 NFL regular season kicked off.
Adam Archuleta never played another down in the National Football League after his release from the Raiders.
He finished his seven-year pro football career with 453 solo tackles, four interceptions, one pick-six, four forced fumbles, six fumble recoveries, and two fumble recoveries for a touchdown.
Archuleta told Breen the concussions he sustained during his five-year tenure with the Rams could have led to his downfall after he left St. Louis following the 2005 NFL season.
Ironically, Archuleta preferred to skip conversations that revolved around concussions. He also told The Washington Post they’re a part of football and he knew what he was getting himself into when he entered the pro ranks in 2001.
Archuleta earned at least $45.1 million in his seven-year pro football career.
Adam Archuleta, his wife Jennifer, and their son currently reside in the Los Angeles, CA area.
Archuleta ventured into sports broadcasting two years after he retired from the National Football League
According to Breen, Archuleta attended a broadcasting boot camp in 2010. He admitted it wasn’t an easy experience considering he had no prior sports media experience.
Archuleta collaborated with voice coach Arthur Joseph at the camp for six months. The latter taught him how to communicate as a sports media personality and a regular person off-camera.
Joseph told The Washington Post that typical sports analysts who are former athletes must project a voice that resembles their physical appearance.
Despite being a former athlete himself, Adam Archuleta didn’t fit that stereotype. In Joseph’s opinion, the former Rams standout had to develop an assertive and commanding voice to complement his young and good-looking appearance.
Archuleta joined his fellow former players John Fina and Michael Young in a trial run of Showtime’s Inside the NFL in the summer of 2012.
Former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Ron “The Polish Rifle” Jaworski told the three up-and-coming sports broadcasters he typically put in 96 hours per week on the job. It’s not a gig where one can just show up and excel on the spot.
Fortunately, Archuleta made a good first impression in his first boot camp. He joined the camp’s advanced track as an analyst and broadcaster for the Pac-12 Network in 2012.
— Adam Archuleta (@AdamArchuleta) September 8, 2019
Archuleta has exceeded expectations as a sports media personality. He’s currently a football analyst for CBS Sports.
According to Arizona State’s official athletics website, Archuleta attended an NFL-sponsored Franchise Bootcamp where attendees learned about the fundamental principles of franchising.
However, Archuleta told Fankhanel in 2021 that he hadn’t discovered a particular industry he wanted to franchise at the time.
When Archuleta visited his wife’s family in Ohio, his sister-in-law told him to give CoreLife Eatery, a health food franchise, a shot.
It didn’t take long for Archuleta to buy into the restaurant’s mission of serving delicious, high-quality, and healthy cuisine. He eventually opened his CoreLife Eatery franchise in Tempe, AZ in the fall of 2020.
Adam Archuleta is also a member of the St. Louis Rams’ 10th Anniversary Team.