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.
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