New Rams linebacker Bobby Wagner is educating teammates with lessons the six-time All-Pro learned during 10 seasons with the Seattle Seahawks.
The Ontario native also is enjoying a return to Southern California weather after a decade in the Pacific Northwest.
“Something about playing with the sun out does hit you a little bit different,” he said, adding, “I’ve been attending a lot more graduations and family events that I probably wouldn’t have been able to attend if I was in Seattle.”
Wagner keeps one late family member especially close to his heart.
Wagner, 31, said his mother, Phenia Mae Wagner, suffered a stroke in her early 40s when he was a freshman in college at Utah State in 2008. She died on May 27, 2009.
In honor of his mother, Wagner has begun a charitable fund to raise awareness about strokes and assist patients, families and health professionals dealing with the aftermath of them.
Wagner said Thursday that the fund would assist programs at Los Angeles and Inland Empire hospitals that treated his mother, and also Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles.
“There needs to be more of an awareness, not only signs of stroke but just how to help people in their recovery,” Wagner said after practice. “Because it’s tough. It kind of sets you back. You lose your speech sometimes. They lose the things they’re accustomed to doing.”
Wagner said the fund would assist families and health professionals with equipment such as computers to assist in recovery.
“It’s just a different feel coming in here. … You’ve got that hungriness of coming off a Super Bowl.”
— Bobby Wagner, on joining Rams after many years with Seattle
“I was a part of that,” said Wagner, who attended Ontario Colony High. “We went through the process of not being able to afford some of the equipment that she needed that might have helped her.”
Wagner was drafted by the Seahawks in the second round of the 2012 draft, and he became a key player for “Legion of Boom” defenses that helped the Seahawks win Super Bowl XLVIII at the end of the 2013 season, and return to the Super Bowl the next season.
In March, the same day they agreed to trade quarterback Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos, the Seahawks released Wagner. He remained in the NFC West by signing with the Rams a few weeks later.
Wagner has spent the last two months acclimating to the Rams’ system and getting to know teammates.
“He’s been in the league a long time — and you can tell that every day,” outside linebacker Leonard Floyd said. “It don’t take him long to pick up plays.”
Despite winning the Super Bowl last season — and the historic difficulty of repeating — the Rams are a team that is “hungry for more,” Wagner said.
As he did with the Seahawks, he aims to help the Rams return to the Super Bowl for a second year in a row.
In Seattle, young players were at the core of the Super Bowl defenses, which enabled the unit to grow up together Wagner said.
“Then as we got older, guys got wives, got kids, and then the things we did to kind of stay together had to kind of change,” he said. “So, it’s just a different feel coming in here.
“It’s a mixture of young guys, old guys. You’ve got that hungriness of coming off a Super Bowl, everybody doubting you, that you can get back there.
“And so, just the energy has been great.”