Blogs Najee's Notes Opinion

NAJEE’S NOTES: Rams help out local football programs

I attended the opening ceremony of the Inglewood Rams Flag Football League Oct. 12 hosted by the Los Angeles Rams. I was excited to be at the event.

As a youth, I grew up playing flag football with dreams of being a USC football star which never panned out, but that’s a story for another day.

Nonetheless, I was excited to see so many of our community youth with their parents at an event that featured remarks from Inglewood Mayor James Butts, former Ram D’Marco Farr and community affairs and engagement manager Johnathan Franklin.

In today’s era of social media where everybody has something to say and are sometimes critical of elected officials and public figures, I believe in giving credit where credit is due. Seeing the city of Inglewood and the partnership it has created with the Rams is inspiring and wouldn’t exist had Mayor Butts not worked day and night to bring the Rams back home to Southern California, in addition to the Chargers.

The NBA Los Angeles Clippers are also seeking to move to Inglewood. I believe under Butts’ leadership its no longer a matter of if, only when. Butts has created hundreds of jobs for Inglewood residents along with a solid tax base revenue once the new SoFi Stadium, the future home of the Chargers and Rams, is open in July 2020.

Butts has his share of critics, but all political leaders do. The facts are based on what Butts has accomplished for the city of Inglewood under his leadership and though I haven’t always agreed with him on issues, his work on economic development and being an ambassador for the city of Inglewood deserves praise.

So do the Los Angeles Rams for adopting the Inglewood Parks and Recreation Flag Football League, renaming the program the Inglewood Rams. The league consists of 22 teams with more than 260 youth participants (ages 5-12). Each team will be named after one of the Rams’ current players (i.e. Team Gurley, Team Donald, Team Goff).

Additionally, the Los Angeles Rams will fund all football components of the Inglewood Rams program, including uniforms and equipment. The Rams also donated a total of 800 tickets to players, coaches and parents for the team’s home games against the Denver Broncos and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. That’s amazing. As a youth growing up in South L.A. I would dream of going to a Rams game at the Coliseum but with no father figure or other avenue for me it never happened.

As many of you know, for the past two seasons I had led a protest outside the Rams home games at the Coliseum, even getting arrested by the LAPD for nonviolent civil disobedience in support of former quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who I believed (and still do) was being blackballed by the NFL because he spoke out against the unjust murders of black men, women and children being murdered by police nationwide.

I completely ignored the Rams, Chargers and all things NFL and refused to cover anything they did no matter how good it was for our community. Those days have ended. I moved on and should report the good things the Rams are doing in our community.

That said, I will support the Los Angeles Rams Oct. 18 when they attend the Morningside High School game and recognize Morningside’s varsity football coach Rod Harvey as the coach of the week. As part of the recognition, former Rams player Ron Brown will provide remarks, participate in the opening coin toss, and present Harvey with a coach of the week banner, a $2,000 grant from the Los Angeles Rams and an additional $1,000 in Gatorade products.

In June, the Rams also committed to fund and refurbish the grass football field at Morningside High School. Throughout the 2018 season, Morningside’s varsity football team also participated in the team’s inaugural year of the “Rise with the Rams” program, which was a season-long initiative designed to harness the unifying power of sports and build relationships between two Los Angeles area high school football teams with a cross-section of socio-economic backgrounds.

In addition, during the 2018 season, the Rams and Chargers teamed up to surprise Morningside and Inglewood High School with new football uniforms. That was important news I knew about but just passed on because of my NFL boycott. But as I stated earlier, I must give credit where credit is due. Thank you, L.A. Rams and Mayor Butts, for helping lift the city of Inglewood.

•••

My beloved USC Trojans will celebrate homecoming Oct. 19  as the Trojans face the University of Arizona at 6:30 pm at the Memorial Coliseum. I will be in attendance and so can you. If you don’t already have a ticket you can simply drop off a pair of new shoes, from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, and pick up your two complimentary tickets from under the USC athletics tent, located across from Gate 23.

Now that’s a great deal. You can help the homeless receive new shoes and watch the USC Trojans. You can catch up with me on Saturday on campus at the annual USC Black Alumni Association Trojans legends homecoming celebration.

For news tips, email Brothernajeeali@gmail.com or follow me on Twitter@Najeeali.