Photo Cred: LA Rams
By Jim Gehman, Player Engagement Insider
Since joining the Rams in 2010 after being drafted out of Indiana University, Rodger Saffold has defined versatility by playing at each position but center on the offensive line. However, beginning in 2016, he found a home at left guard.
And this season, anchored between veterans and first-year Rams left tackle Andrew Whitworth and center John Sullivan, they’ve helped Los Angeles win the NFC Western division.
“I think it’s just all about experience,” Saffold said. “We just understand the game and our offense well enough that we’re able to work off of one another. There are certain things that we can just let Whit handle and certain things that they can just let me handle and certain things that you can let John handle. So, we’ve got three guys who do that at a high level, you can only expect to see success.”
Saffold and the Rams didn’t experience much success or a winning record during his first seven years on the team. This season, however, has been different.
“There’s definitely some new emotions with the success that we’ve had. But being able to control those and just be consistent week in and week out is pretty much what we’re looking for all season,” Saffold said. “So, for me, nothing really changes but the outcomes of the games. And I think that that’s what makes you a professional.”
Saffold has proven to be a professional on and off the field. Since relocating from St. Louis to Los Angeles with the organization last year, he has relentlessly donated his time and money to several causes. Among them – Heart of Los Angeles, Cedars-Sinai hospital, Los Angeles Regional Foodbank, United Way of Greater Los Angeles, Operation Progress, Inglewood Unified School District, and Single Mom Planet Awards.
“I always want to be able to use my pedestal that I have as a professional athlete to be able to do some good out here,” Saffold said. “The people have been so inviting and welcoming with open arms that it’s easy to want to go out there and be able to help all these people in different communities, different backgrounds. There’s so many different charities out here, you can’t really go wrong.”
One charity that Saffold is particularly fond of is Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America. He became a big brother while in college and continued being so after entering the NFL. Each home game, he provides the organization with 50 tickets.
“The first thing I thought of when I first got into the league was getting them tickets and trying to help out because I know how football helped me so you never know if it’s going to help another kid,” Saffold said. “I get a lot of messages through Instagram of kids taking pictures with big smiles on their faces just because they’ve got something that they like it a lot. And that’s kind of how I felt growing up.
“Being able to have close to 500 tickets for the Big Brothers Big Sisters is great to get a lot of those kids out there to a game as well as their ‘bigs’ (adult volunteers). It’s fantastic. The kids have a great time, but also the ‘bigs’ do too. I think that just makes a lot of people want to continue to join the cause.
“For me, it’s just kind of like it’s almost my due diligence just with all the blessings that I’ve received by being able to play this game and being able to be a role model for a lot of these kids.”
Because of his unyielding participation with so many worthy charities in the Los Angeles area, Saffold is this year’s Rams’ nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award. It recognizes a player for the commitment he has demonstrated in helping others in the community.
“I was at a loss for words. I didn’t even really expect it,” Saffold said. “So, for me, I’m just truly honored to be a part of a group like that. To be honored with these other men who have done so much in their different cities and fields with helping out a lot of these charitable organizations. It just lets us know that the NFL is really working hand-in-hand with trying to help these kids all across the nation.
“I’m older, wiser. I think I understand the game a lot more as well as the game of life. You grow up and you have new experiences and now I’m able to put that into good use for the future. Realizing that if I want to make a brighter future, than I need to be able to help as best as I can with groups of people in helping out their futures. It’s been awesome.”