Tag Archives: Rams

Get ready for football. Played in a wheelchair.

When Michael Garafola dons his Rams jersey and Rams helmet on Sept. 10, he’ll feel a crush of pride to represent the L.A. team at its season opener in Phoenix. The lineman will be ready for some intense crashing of bodies and wheelchairs.

“The fact that we’re able to wear Rams jerseys and helmets is incredible,” Garafola told Patch. “To be able to put a Rams jersey on is incredible. I’m super excited.”

Garafola is part of the new NFL-sponsored, all-wheelchair football league. Yes, football for guys in wheelchairs.

“There’s something very alluring about football. It’s a contact-heavy sport,” says Rams manager Josh Lucas. “They get knocked over and rolled around. They get up, shake it off and get ready for the next play. When you see them bashing each other, you think they might be able to get hurt. But really they are at no more risk for getting hurt any more than fully able bodied players.”

Wheelchair football has existed in America since 1948 but play has been limited to starts and stops by various organizations until the new league gets underway in little more than a week. Organizers hope that with NFL backing, this league will be here to stay.

The Rams team is co-sponsored by the Westwood-based Angel City Sports. They need volunteers and take donations.

Michael Garafola

Garafola, 46, teaches adaptive sports at UCLA. It’s a natural job for him because he went more than a decade without sports, from an SUV accident in 1990 that left him with a spinal chord injury and depressed being deprived of athletics.

Then in 2003, he found out about organized adaptive basketball in Los Angeles. He loved basketball and immediately leapt at the opportunity to participate.

“I was blown away,” Garafola says. “I didn’t have any idea that this type of sport existed. These guys were playing and jawing… Read the rest: Wheelchair football in Los Angeles

Jesus is ‘taking over’ the Undertaker

The Undertaker — WWE’s longest-running and most-heralded villain — has had a major change of heart thanks to his wife Michelle McCool who married him only after “she realized I wasn’t Satan,” he says.

Mark Calaway resisted accompanying his blonde wrestler wife to church because, after 17 surgeries, he didn’t look forward to bowing down at the altar and because he feared “the pastor’s going to see me and he is just going to throw fire and brimstone right me,” he says on a YouTube video.

“I went reluctantly, but once I got there I found myself going from being tense and pensive to kind of leaning in and like, ‘Wow, this is pretty cool.’ That started my journey.”

Mark grew up in a Catholic school with nuns enforcing the rules with cracks on the head in Houston, Texas. The 6’10” 309-lb behemoth was drawn to sports, basketball and football, and even played for the Rams in 1985-86 before donning a red mask in the ring in his original guise as Texas Red.

In 1989, he was re-christened “The Master of Pain,” with an invented criminal backstory as a recently-released killer from Atlanta, but by the end of the year he had a new name with a new schtick that stuck: he became The Undertaker, a persona that endured three decades and won 21 straight matches.

All the way, he lived “a life of excess” and cycled through two marriages before he met and married Michelle McCool in 2010. He retired from wrestling in June of 2020 after concussions and injuries made it increasingly difficult to perform on par.

When he saw Michelle McCool, he noticed her terrific work ethic and golden locks.

She wanted nothing to do with him.

“She was truly terrified of me,” Mark says. “She did not want anything to do with me.”

But he wore he down. He also proved to her that the bad guy persona in front of the camera had nothing in common with his heart. Read the rest: The Undertaker is Christian

While in the NFL, he took cocaine. Today, Miles McPherson is a pastor

miles-mcpherson-the rock churchMiles McPherson wanted to see how they made crack cocaine, so he went to a crack house with a buddy.

There the NFL Chargers football player saw a skeleton of a man, dallying with death because of his addiction. McPherson despised him. “Man, look at that pitiful guy. Drugs is killing him.”

Then the God he didn’t even know spoke to McPherson: What about you? He was in your seat not that long ago.

mcpherson milesThat was McPherson’s first wake-up call. “I asked myself, ‘What am I doing? I’m in the NFL. I’m living my dream. And I’m destroying it.’”

Today, McPherson is the senior pastor of the Rock Church, a megachurch in San Diego with 15,000 attending weekly. The church focuses on reaching the lost through 150 specialized ministries.

McPherson was born to a nurse and a cop in Long Island. He was confident in his playing ability, even though he attended a Division 3 university he predicted he would make the NFL.

A coach mocked his aspirations. “He told other players behind my back that I was too small, too slow, too short. But that just motivated me to keep working.”

mcpherson marriagesOn his first year at the University of New Haven, the team had its first winning season, going 6-3. During his second year, the team was undefeated. In his third year, he was named “All American.” In his fourth year, the Rams recruited him.

“I didn’t know God, but I just knew in my heart that I was going to play in the NFL and that my life was going to mean something,” he says.

Almost as soon as he got picked by the Rams in 1982, fellow players introduced him to cocaine.

“It was one of the peer pressure things, fitting in,” McPherson says. “I was a rookie, and there’s about six guys in the room. I didn’t know what we were going in for, and they just pulled out cocaine. I said, ‘Oh man.’ But I saw everybody else doing it, so I thought, ‘This can’t be that bad.’ I knew it was wrong. I knew it was dangerous, but I lived on the edge.”

The first try led to addiction. Soon, he couldn’t stop taking cocaine. It became a futile, inexorable search for fulfillment through partying.

After one season, he was traded to the then-San Diego Chargers.

Then a fellow player shared the gospel with him. After a night of partying in 1984, he made the decision to call it quits to drugs. He retired from football in 1985.

“I said, ‘I’m done. I’m gonna give God the commitment I’ve given football, the commitment I’ve given drugs, the commitment I’ve given fun. I’m going to give God that commitment.” Read the rest Miles McPherson pastor of Rock Church

When you overcome fear, you become dangerous

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Rob Scribner then

Rob Scribner then

My pastor, Rob Scribner, tried out for professional football to prove he couldn’t do it.

He just liked it. But he thought he wasn’t good enough. Because of hard work, he wound up on the team, playing for the then-LA Rams from 1973 to 1976. A lot of other guys didn’t even try out because they thought they wouldn’t make it.

Fear of failure is a major problem. Whatever you long to do but are afraid of doing, that is what you should do.

Pastor Rob Scribner now

Pastor Rob Scribner now

If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves. — Thomas Edison

The explosion of “fantasy” — sports, Second Life, etc. — is illustrative. People want more but are afraid to live it.

Christian, when you overcome fear, you become dangerous to the devil.