Johnathan Franklin, bringing it all back home for Rams
By Mark Whicker
AGOURA HILLS — Recently he went to the Coliseum and saw progress.
Not on the field; everybody can see that. Johnathan Franklin looked at the seats.
He saw a dad wearing Eric Dickerson’s No. 29, and a son wearing Todd Gurley’s No. 30. More of that, and the Rams can fill that 22-year hole and connect the cassette memories with the live streaming, make the new team seen as essential as the old one was.
Franklin works for the Rams’ “external affairs” department. He is based in the spacious second-floor executive offices, a few miles from the football HQ in Thousand Oaks. He isn’t actually there much.
“I’m going to Orange County, Pasadena, the Conejo Valley, you name it,” Franklin said the other day.
It might be distributing gift cards from Walmart, or it might be meeting with NGOs and youth groups. He says he ran into “some anger, I don’t want to dance around that” from Rams fans who still felt betrayed, but Franklin is from L.A., too, a block from his beloved Dorsey High. He knows it’s possible to root for everyone in this saturated sportsscape . “Maybe we can be the primary team again,” Franklin said.
But Franklin is only 28. With gentler fate, kids in Green Bay would be wearing his No. 23 today.
He rushed for 4,403 yards at UCLA, by far the school record, and was on the way to a significant NFL future.
All along Franklin had eyed life after football and prepared meticulously. When that life arrived without warning in 2014, he was emotionally marooned. That he survived is a good story. It’s not the one he wants to tell indefinitely.
“I want to break barriers,” Franklin said, “to show that all things are possible. I’ve overcome injury, I’ve come from the inner city. But I want my story […]