MIAMI – Todd Gurley just finished getting a facial from the FaceGym crew, and checked his face in the mirror before an interview with ESPN’s the Undefeated. The Tarboro (NC) native and former Georgia running back couldn’t be more relaxed, and his answers reflect that, as he’s thoughtful, barely hiding a smile, and at all times aware that he’s lucky to be blocks from the beach in the prime of his career.
Gurley is then shuffled over to a pair of Normatec boots, something he’s all too familiar with in his routine of train, play, recover, and he’s tried everything that’s available to him over the years to get out in front of potential injuries. What works best, however, isn’t something he has the luxury of receiving in-season.
“I’ve done all of it, man, and none of it really works,” Gurley tells Uproxx. “The only thing that ever works is time.”
Gurley’s getting more time than he bargained for this offseason after the Rams failed to make the playoffs following their storybook run to the Super Bowl in 2018-19, and he’s making the most of it. The 25-year-old has truly settled into the LA area, opting for a home in Topanga where he can have a bit more space and room to breathe. He’s got his mind set on doing everything he can on the field, but he’s not naive enough to believe it’ll last forever. Instead, he’s working towards building a legacy beyond football and using what football has given him to give back. Taking a cue from LeBron James, the elite athlete wants people to know he’s more than that.
Uproxx had the chance to get into all sorts of topics in the meditation room as part of Gatorade’s Bolt 24 space during Super Bowl week, from reflecting on his own career in media res to his love for Duke basketball.
Martin Rickman: You’ve had some more time in LA now. Is it feeling more like home?
Todd Gurley: Yeah, it is. It definitely is, and I’m starting to develop relationships with different people. But also, it just feels home. You know how when you leave for a little while and you’re like, “I can’t wait to get back home?” That’s it, that’s how you know it’s home. For LA, like, I hate leaving before I even leave. I love it down there.
That’s good, because you get to that point, you get somewhere and a lot of it is preparation for moving and anxiety from moving, and then you add the job into it. The job is so much of what you do, and it’s already different from any other job anyway. You gotta like where you are, because then it helps you where you are mentally.
But then it’s funny you say that because once the season’s over with, I can’t wait to get out of LA. It’s like the first thing you want to do, because you’re not really stuck here but you know the season’s going on so you had to be there for like six or seven months.
You need that break so you can still appreciate home.
What is it that you like to do in a time like now, where you get a little bit of that break and you get to refocus on not just the time to recover physically but to recover mentally and emotionally so that you can come back fresh?
For me, man, I like to travel. I like to relax, I like to travel, but I also like to be productive, too. So whether it’s going to connect with people or having meetings, try to set up a meeting here and there, just learn about different stuff. Whether it’s trying to learn about investments, real estate, art. Try to do philanthropy work. You’d usually try to do that in the spring and the summer time, but just trying to expand my mind and go see new things, do new things, and hear new things. I’m always about learning. You can never stop learning.
Those first couple seasons in the NFL are so much about trying to get set to prove yourself. But once you know you can play, if you’re not learning off the field, and developing as a person, then you’re falling behind.
And there’s time for everything. People will be like, “Don’t wait til it’s too late,” which some people’s grace period is longer than others. Obviously the average career is three and a half years, but I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to go on my sixth year. I feel like the time is now, being in a city like LA, I have to take advantage of my opportunities. Getting to see guys like LeBron, having his own media company, having his own I Promise School. Once you see stuff like that, especially a black athlete as LeBron is, it’s inspirational. It makes you want to do more. It makes you want to learn more. Also you just want to be great.
Like you said, I’ve been playing football all my life. I know I can play football, I love football, I work out. That’s what I do, but it’s always going to be bigger than any football because I’m sitting here with you now, but five to ten years later it’ll be another guy standing right next to you. You’ve also got to appreciate and be grateful for your time and also respect the others that came before you and respect the ones that are coming after you. That’s kind of how I see it.
I think that’s such an important thing too, it’s connecting those generations.
It’s easier now with social media too, it’s easier because I can just reach out to a kid in high school right now and five years later he could be drafted in the first round.
You can push someone along.
Exactly. And we’ve got to do a better job. That’s why it’s just like helping each other out. We’re always talking about the athletes going broke when they’re done but that’s why you got to really do listen to the older guys. The older guys know because they’ve seen it, they’ve done it. You’ve got to learn from others. But now it’s no reason you should be in that situation because the resources are ten times better. The money is a lot better and it’s a lot more former players out there. The guys get out and lead and there’s more former players to learn from. And that’s why I try to tell the young guys to save their money but be smart, have fun, but just be smart.
You never know when your time is, your time in life too I mean this week has taught a lot of us you can take something for granted but you never know when it’s up. You’ve got to make sure you send those messages, you got to make sure you take care of the people around you every day.
Most definitely. Like you said it’s been a rough week and it makes you appreciate people. It takes something bad to happen for you to appreciate stuff. And that’s just life and not that we’re not appreciative, it just gives you a reminder to be just a little bit more present. You know a teenager called me the other day, “Man, I love you, I appreciate you always being a good guy.” Stuff like that. And that just made me smile you know just by hearing that, but for someone to just call me and tell me that as a friend, not also as my teammate but like as a friend. You don’t even have to talk to someone every day to know that they care. And nine times out of ten, if they know you’re their best friend or something, sometimes it’s a good thing when you’re not talking to someone all the time because that means they’re busy and you’re busy. You’re all both working, but the love is always there. The love will always be there.
I know you’re a big Duke guy.
I was watching my boys up at night. They played Jeff Capel. He’s the head coach at Pitt. Good dude. He’s a Duke guy. Yeah man, I love Duke basketball. I go to the Duke-UNC game every year. Honestly, I think coach K is, I think the world of him. He’s the GOAT. Jon Scheyer is on the staff. Nolan Smith is on the staff. Two good guys, they always take care of me. They always look out for me. It’s like, it’s so funny bro, because people be like, “You didn’t even go to Duke,” and I’m like, “Yes I did,” it’s like you don’t even know in fact I’m adopted.
And once you’re in the Duke gang, you can’t get out of it. That’s who you are.
I used to walk around school with Duke basketball gear on at Georgia, in front of the basketball team always. But I’m from North Carolina, though. You got Duke or UNC. And you got the scrubs who like root for Wake Forest.
I mean, I went to Wake.
But Wake Forest was good. They had Jeff Teague, Al-Farouq Aminu, that’s when they was No. 1. They beat Duke that year.
So who else do you rock with among the current players that are in the league?
I love Melo, man. I’m glad to see my boy back there. That’s my boy right there. Like everybody is with like Kobe and LeBron, that’s me.
Why is that? Has it always been like that?
I got pride, too much pride. I like KAT man. That’s a good dude. We were in the same draft class. Kentucky guy. He even knows I’m a Duke fan. That’s why you know it’s crazy when other basketball players know. Also my boy, Montrezl Harrell from the Clippers, LouWill, Patrick Beverley. I’m an LA guy now I guess.
And on the music side of things I know you and YG are tight.
That’s my boy, man. That’s like our hype man mascot, whatever you like to call him, like when he’s not at the game. We’re like, “What you doing?” Nine times out of ten if he’s not at a home game, we’re probably going to lose. I’m like man, “you’re supposed to be at the game man.” Everybody would be looking forward to scoring and tossing him the ball. It’s cool to see like the love, and it’s genuine too. I’ve always been a big fan of his music. He’s always embraced me as a football player, but then also as a friend so we’ve got that good relationship, also go to games together and stuff like that.
It’s so important to relax and take care of your body. We have so many more tools now than we ever did, whether it’s from massages, meditation, to hydration and stuff. What are some of the things that you do to stay on top of that?
Really just trying to take care of my body. Most importantly your mind, always taking care of that. People might laugh or joke about meditation, but this is a serious thing, just trying to take care of your mind because if you can take care of that, then you could be sane and be able to deal with people. Everyone goes through tough times but you’ve got to know how to act, you gotta remain sane through those tough times. But yeah man, just being here with Gatorade, obviously I got the new Bolt 24 product with antioxidants, electrolytes and vitamins. It’s more of an off the field lifestyle drink. Obviously people are more familiar with Gatorade, but they’ve got the new Bolt 24. It’s actually pretty good too.