Los Angeles Rams Launch Youth Clinics That Focus On Character Over Football

“We want to validate that they’re more than just football players or athletes, and to realize the power they have beyond sports.”

Photo by Jeff Lewis, courtesy of Los Angeles Rams.

If you could walk a mile in an NFL player’s shoes, what could you learn? According to the Los Angeles Rams: humility, character, persistence.

That’s the idea behind their Cleats for Character initiative, in which the Rams donate football cleats and athletic shoes worn by players on the 2017 roster to L.A. high school football programs.

Having relocated from St. Louis in 2016, the team has been eager to grow its roots in the community and is particularly interested in inspiring hope among local youth through increased access to the game. Through its youth football camps, clinics, and other related academic initiatives, the Rams are looking to reach out and recognize some of the region’s best high school athletes who are achieving excellence in the classroom and serving as community stewards.

Photo by Jeff Lewis, courtesy of the Los Angeles Rams.

In the second year of the Cleats for Character program, the Rams donated a total of 600 cleats and athletic shoes to athletes on junior varsity and varsity football teams at seven local schools, including Inglewood High School, Morningside High School, Hamilton High School, Compton High School, Camarillo High School, Hueneme High School, and Carson High School.

“We meet with the football teams or sometimes with the entire school,” says Rams executive Johnathan Franklin, who leads each school in a discussion about goal-setting and the values of good character. “We want to validate that they’re more than just football players or athletes, and to realize the power they have beyond sports.”

Following the discussion, the student-athletes create vision boards with goals written on them before being sized for the cleats or shoes of their choice. “The cleats are there to be a reminder of the power they have inside — and the talents and abilities they have to be all they’re being called to be,” Franklin adds.

Photo by Jake Juels, courtesy of Los Angeles Rams.

Franklin knows all too well about the danger of allowing yourself to be defined only by athletic performance. A former All-American running back at UCLA, he holds the school’s career record for rushing with a total of 4,403 yards. But after being drafted by the Green Bay Packers in 2013, he suffered a career-ending spinal contusion injury only 12 games into his professional career.

He shares his story with the next generation as a way of reminding them that who you are as a person matters most. The experience left him humbled and determined to find his purpose beyond the football field — though he didn’t cut away too far, working first in the front office for the Packers, then a stint in community relations for Notre Dame prior to finally joining the Rams.

Now, he encourages student-athletes to consider the power they have on the inside versus external sources of identity as they grow and develop into successful leaders both on the field and off. Younger members of the community have also had an opportunity to learn about the importance of character — and about the fun, competitive nature of the game — in free football clinics offered throughout Southern California.

The Rams have established partnerships with local non-profit organizations and youth football clubs, such as The Watts Bears, Heart of Los Angeles, and The Los Angeles Boys and Girls Club to host seven free football clinics for boys and girls in grades 2 through 8 throughout Southern California in March and April. The clinics include football drills and some competitive flag football contests and have impacted nearly 700 youth in the L.A. region

Photo by Jeff Lewis, courtesy of Los Angeles Rams.

Youth interested in fine-tuning or expanding their football knowledge and skills are encouraged to register for one of the Rams Youth Football Summer Camps, offered in partnership with Cedars-Sinai during June and July. The camps include a ticket to a Rams regular season home game and an opportunity to attend a free Hyundai football clinic with Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald.

These non-contact, co-ed camps are designed for elementary and junior high school students and are open to all positions and skill levels. Each camp will consist of football instruction for all positions from USA Football-certified camp coaches, leadership development programming, character education, and the opportunity to compete for prizes.

Rams alumni (including some Rams legends) will be on-site at select locations to help teach fundamentals, as well to lead discussions covering the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and the qualities of teamwork.

In addition, the team also will host the Junior High Skills Academy for students in July adjacent to the Rams’ practice facility at Cal Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks. The session will feature position-specific instruction from Rams alumni and the opportunity to compete for prizes.

Potential participants may click here to register or learn more.

via Smithfly.com

"Seventy percent of the Earth is covered with water, now you camp on it!" proudly declares Smithfly on the website for its new camping boat — the Shoal Tent.

Why have we waited so long for camping equipment that actually lets us sleep on the water? Because it's an awful idea, that's why.

"The world is your waterbed," Smithfly says on its site. But the big difference is that no one has ever had to worry about falling asleep and then drowning on their waterbed.

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While it is possible that one could wade into the water, unzip the tent, have a pleasant slumber, and wake up in the morning feeling safe and refreshed, there are countless things that could go terribly wrong.

The tent could float down the river and you wake up in the middle of nowhere.

You could have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

This guy.

It could spring a leak and you could drown while wrapped up in eight feet of heavy nylon.

A strong current could tip the tent-boat over.

There isn't any way to steer the darn thing.

This guy.

Mashable shared a charming video of the tent on Twitter and it was greeted with a chorus of people sharing the many ways one could die while staying the night in the Shoal Tent.

Oh yeah, it's expensive, too.

Even though the general public seems to think the Shoal Tent is a terrible idea, according to the Smithfly's website, it's currently sold out due to "popular demand" and it will be "available in 6-8 weeks." Oh, and did we mention it costs $1,999?

via zoezimmm / Imgur

There are few more perniciously dangerous conspiracy theories being shared online than the idea that vaccines cause autism.

This has led to a decline in Americans vaccinating their children, resulting in a massive increase in measles. This year has already seen over 1,200 cases of measles, a disease that was eradicated in the U.S. nearly 20 years ago.

A 2015 Pew Research study found that 83% of Americans think the measles vaccine is safe, while 9% think it's not. Another 7% are not sure. But when you look at the polls that include parents of minors, the numbers get worse, 13% believe that the measles vaccine is unsafe.

There is zero truth to the idea that vaccines cause autism. In fact, a recent study of over 650,000 children found there was no link whatsoever.

RELATED: A new study of over 650,000 children finds — once again — that vaccines don't cause autism

A great example of the lack of critical thinking shown by anti-vaxxers was a recent exchange on Facebook shared to Imgur by zoezimmm.

A parent named Kenleigh at a school in New Mexico shared a photo of a sign at reads: "Children will not be enrolled unless an immunization record is presented and immunizations are up-to-date."

This angered a Facebook user who went on a senseless tirade against vaccinations.

"That's fine, I'll just homeschool my kids," she wrote. At least they won't have to worry about getting shot up in school or being bullied, or being beat up / raped by the teachers!"

To defend her anti-vaccination argument, she used a factually incorrect claim that Amish people don't vaccinate their children. She also incorrectly claimed that the MMR vaccine is ineffective and used anecdotal evidence from her and her father to claim that vaccinations are unnecessary.

She also argued that "every human in the world is entitled to their own opinion." Which is true, but doesn't mean that wildly incorrect assumptions about health should be tolerated.

She concluded her argument with a point that proves she doesn't care about facts: "It doesn't matter what you say is not going to change my mind."

RELATED: 12 medical professionals shared their most memorable anti-vaxxer stories and you won't stop face-palming

While the anti-vaxxer was incorrect in her points, it must also be pointed out that some of the people who argued with her on Facebook were rude. That should never be tolerated in this type of discourse, but unfortunately, that's the world of social media.

Here's the entire exchange:

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The post received a ton of responses on imgur. Here are just a few:

"'In my opinion...' 'I believe...' That's not how facts work."

"You're entitled to your opinion. And everyone else is entitled to call you a dumbass."

"'What I do with my children is no concern to you at all.' Most of the time, true. When your kid might give mine polio, not true."

"If my child can't bring peanut butter, your child shouldn't bring preventable diseases."

It's important to call out people who spread dangerous views, especially how they pertain to health, on social media. But people should do so with respect and civility.


He photographed Nazi atrocities and buried the negatives. The unearthed images are unforgettable.

He risked his life to leave a "historical record of our martyrdom."

via Yad Vashem and Archive of Modern Conflict, 2007

In September 1939, the Nazis invaded Poland. By April 1940, the gates closed on the Lodz Ghetto, the second largest in the country after Warsaw.

Throughout the war, over 210,000 people would be imprisoned in Lodz.

Among those held captive was Henryk Ross. He was a Jewish sports photographer before the Nazi invasion and worked for the the ghetto's Department of Statistics during the war. As part of his official job, he took identification photos of the prisoners and propaganda shots of Lodz' textile and leather factories.

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via Imgur

Every few years there's something that goes mega viral because people can't decide what it is.

There was the famous "is it blue and black, or white and gold" dress?

There was the audio recording that said either "yanny" or "Laurel."

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Rochester NY Airport Security passing insulting notes to travelers caught on tape www.youtube.com

Neil Strassner was just passing through airport security, something he does on a weekly basis as part of his job. That's when a contract airport security employee handed him a small piece of folded cardboard. Strassner, 40, took the paper and continued on his way. He only paused when he heard the security employee shouting back at him, "You going to open the note?"

When he unfolded the small piece of paper, Strassner was greeted with an unprompted insult. "You ugly!!!"

According to Strassner, and in newly released CCTV of the incident, the woman who handed him the note began laughing loudly.

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