Inglewood, The City of Champions. One of the most beautiful cities in LA. I mean really, it’s prime time land. From Inglewood, you can reach the beach, LAX, the 405, 105, 10 and 110 freeways all within 10 minutes. Aside from the locale, the history of the city is very rich. The Great Western Forum, think about all of the historic games between the Lakers and the LA Kings, all of the great concerts. Then there’s Hollywood Park and the connection to the likes of Walt Disney and Hollywood as well as some great equestrian performances. Then there’s North American Aviation, that produced the B-25 bomber and the P-51 in Inglewood, two planes that were critical in our success during WWII. To say that I am proud to be from Inglewood is an understatement.
Growing up in Inglewood, I was very spoiled. The Lakers played right down the street from my house, we could walk there in less than 15 minutes. From Showtime, to Kobe and Shaq, to all of the concerts and events, Inglewood was the spot. Similar to Detroit, when the auto industry built the heart of industrial America right in their backyard, we thrived. But just as Detroit began to crumble once commerce left, so did Inglewood. Over the past 15 years I’ve watched my city decay. Market Street, once a thriving place of business nearly a ghost town. Schools shutting down, funding for after school programs depleted, youth athletic programs that are labors of love because of no support. A school district taken over by the state. A rise in gang violence. All things that make me very sad.
Knowing this was the case, I committed my studies in college to improving the condition of the community that gave me everything that I have. I saw that there was a lot missing, which that lack was leading our development down the wrong path as a community. I saw that something can and should be done. So, I went to work. I did my best to fully identify the problem, then I worked to find a solution. That solution has been in development for almost 10 years. I remember reaching out to the NFL, in regards to Play60 in LA, since a lot of athletes come from here. I figured that since it’s a hotbed of talent for them they could do programs here. But because there wasn’t a team in the market, the answer was no. Which is why I was excited about the buzz that was building over the past few years of an NFL stadium coming to Inglewood. Not only was Mayor Butts well on his way to rebuilding Inglewood, by bringing back the Forum, he was doing much more. I knew I could use the path I took in life, to help rebuild the infrastructure of a community by partnering with the local team. My excitement was sky high.
To say that initially I was not excited about it being the Rams is an understatement. I mean, I loved the Rams because I have immense respect for Jeff Fisher, aside from him being a great Trojan. He seems to me, to be among the elite coaches in the NFL and I’d put him a few spots behind Belichick. Think I’m crazy? Go back and see how his teams, out-manned teams at that, perform against the powerful NFC west. He gave everyone a run for their money, providing blueprints to beat the 49ers and the Seahawks. His instilled fight in his team. Then there’s that D-Line, throw Gurley on top and now you’re looking at a formidable team. Expect, they had no on-field CEO. This is why I wasn’t excited.
I thought that the Raiders with Amari Cooper and Carr, would be a great choice as they have the keys to a great offense, tons of cap room and a great defensive player in Mack to build around. I liked the Raiders over the Chargers because Phillip is almost done and they’d need to hire a successor before I’d feel comfortable with them. After all, this is LA. If the team doesn’t perform they won’t sell tickets. I was thinking about long term strategy. I believe the Rams were in the bottom 5 of revenue in the league. Seeing that and reading about how much or how little stadiums actually helped the citizens of the community, I became protective. Very protective. I was thinking about the pressing needs of the city. I was thinking about what we endured when everything moved to Staples. Our heart ripped out from us. A thriving city now a ghost town.
Once the Forum moved back, there was hope. There was one tree in the garden that hopefully would lead to more. I hope that Chase, realizes the opportunity they have to make an impact on the community by giving back to city that the Forum resides. But more importantly, I turned my focus to the what’s of the stadium project and the timeline. 2019, if everything is perfect. To say that money is not being made in terms of deals and sponsorships right now is to say that the earth is flat. With that thinking, I feel that something needs to happen. The people of the city of Inglewood need help, right now. I’m doing the best that I can from where I’m at, I’m opening a youth football league through my foundation. The mission of my foundation is to break the cycle of poverty. I’m working on bringing businesses into Inglewood as well as creating businesses myself. This is what we have to do.
Knowing this, I spoke out about the NFL coming to Inglewood. Not that I think it’s a bad idea, I think it’s great. I’m concerned about how a multi-billion dollar industry will help the people of the city in the short term. We have to endure the traffic congestions and disruptions for years to come. I’m scarred, I went through a bad breakup with this in Inglewood before. I know what happens when they leave. I also know that they have plans to help the community through the facilities that they’ll provide. But that’s not until 2019. There’s a sense urgency for things needed right now. But you have to trust things will work out. But today, I’m super excited.
Now that the Rams have traded for the number 1 pick, and by all accounts they’re going to draft a QB, they’ve answered one of their biggest needs. They’ve mitigated the risk on moving to LA. The entire sports world is on fire because of the blockbuster trade. And rightfully so. Right before a big move to LA, they found a way to do exactly what everyone feels is necessary to turn this team around. This is a great day for the city of Inglewood. Peyton Manning showed what a franchise QB can do for a community, if this trade can produce anything close to that extent, I know Inglewood as a city will again rise and thrive. Commerce will come back and opportunity will return. Inglewood is no different than any other group of people or civilization that died out due to lack of life source. Detroit and the auto-industry, The Egyptians and the Nile River and Inglewood and the move to Staples Center. It is a blessing the see the city begin the process of coming back to life. I am proud to say that I am from Inglewood and proud to say I played in the NFL. I will be even more proud if I can say that I helped use football to help rebuild the city that built the bridge for me to get where I am today. I want to build a bridge to help people see the things that the world has to show them and I hope football is the conduit. I hope the Rams and whatever franchise QB they draft, will help turn a city around even further.