LOS ANGELES – Todd Gurley is relaxed, although it doesn’t seem like Todd Gurley is stressing about much these days. In the midst of a Pro Bowl season that will eventually see his Rams in the Super Bowl in Atlanta, on this cool day in early December, he’s found some time to read.
Gurley surprised Worthington Elementary students by holding a BOOK-IT! pizza party (with Pizza Hut boxes stacked to the ceiling) and a reading of The Magician’s Hat by former University of Georgia teammate Malcolm Mitchell. The kids, predictably, were thrilled, and Gurley continued to make an impact in a community that previously had no NFL presence, and is still coming to grips with two franchises in the city — both good enough to be playoff teams.
Culture isn’t something you can conjure up, and with so much competition for people’s focus and energy in L.A., it takes time to establish new fans. For the Rams, it could be as simple as, well, making the Super Bowl. But a lot more goes into it for Gurley and his running back complement with the Chargers, Melvin Gordon. The pair (as well as their teammates) have to invest in the area around them, and consider pooling resources to foster a young generation of football fans who now have teams — and players — to look up to, while bettering the city around them in the process.
“I feel there’s a lot of guys on the team that do a lot of stuff in this community and they don’t even tell half the people about it,” Gurley says. “They just do it and go along with their business. That’s just to tell you what type of people we are, whether it’s us, the Chargers, everybody around the league, we all come from similar backgrounds. For us to just be able to give back, always, it definitely helps the city you live in and your town back home. Getting guys like Dominique Hatfield, who’s from here, from South Central L.A., for him to be able to give back to his community and be able to play in a city like L.A. is, it’s incredible.”