INGLEWOOD — Christmas means different things to different people.
For Los Angeles Rams players Kevin Peterson and Cameron Lynch, the prerequisites are enjoying family, sharing with others, community involvement and showing love.
The two men have taken different pathways to the NFL.
For Peterson, a second-year player from Oklahoma State, Christmas means being grateful for the moment at hand. Just a year ago, Peterson didn’t look like he had an NFL future and was working at Planet Fitness.
Signed by the Chicago Bears as an undrafted free agent in 2016, Peterson was called up to the Rams active roster in November. Considering where he was at this time last year, Peterson is in a much better place. He’s appreciative of that fact.
“I know what it means to be able to not have a lot and be able to give back,” Peterson said.
As far as having the opportunity to step out on the field and get in-depth playing time as a player in the National Football League, Peterson had his number called when the Rams played the Philadelphia Eagles at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Week 15. The moment was a bit overwhelming and surreal, Peterson said.
“It was actually amazing,” said Peterson. “I actually got my family to come up for the Eagles game. That was my first time actually getting a bunch of playing time. I can’t really explain it. It kind of brought tears to my eyes … kind of being able for me to realize being able to play, especially my family being there to watch the first time. I can’t really explain it. It was a lot of fun.”
Having fun was something Peterson and Lynch had a ball doing at the Rams “Hams for Hunger” giveaway to needy families event in the city of Inglewood Dec. 19. With the assistance of Hormel and Albertsons/Vons/Pavilions, the Rams passed out more than 1,400 hams outside of the Vons parking lot in Inglewood. Working with the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, local nonprofit organizations were able to identify and target families and invite them to pick up their free ham.
“It’s been great to partner with the Los Angeles Rams and Hormel on this great event,” said Helen Cha, manager of public affairs for the Albertsons/Vons/Pavilions chain. “It’s just great to give back during the holiday season.
“I think during the holiday season, that is when a lot of families and individuals in the community face food insecurities, so it’s great that we’re out here and we can provide a holiday ham meal for them and kind of make them feel special during the holiday.”
To Lynch, Christmas is about spending time with family and loved ones.
“It’s family,” Lynch said. “Being in the NFL, you travel so much; I take the time to come out and enjoy my family. Christmas brings us together, and [it’s] about the Lord and Him being born and whatnot. And Jesus. It’s a time for us to come together and enjoy that time.”
The holiday season is also a time help those who have less and to reach back to the surrounding communities that support the Rams organization, the former Syracuse player said.
“I come out here to show love and give back,” Lynch said. “That’s just my thing, to come out here on time and give back to the community, because we’re blessed as well. We get to go out on the stage and get to do what we do. We were out here as little kids at one moment. It’s nice to come out here and show we’re human, too.”
While the season of the year is focused on helping others and promoting chartable giving, there is still the business of football being a big draw in Los Angeles. After a horrific first-year run back in the Southland, the Rams have rebounded with a strong 2017 season and are poised for a possible deep playoff showing. If nothing else, they are having a ball as they close on winning the NFC West title.
“It’s been fun, especially when you’re winning. It’s always fun,” Peterson said. “The guys are so great on the team. Coach (Sean) McVay does a really good job of making sure everybody’s humble, making sure everybody’s working for the same thing. You know, we have a lot of leaders in the locker room as well. So, it’ just been fun being part of the team this year.”