Rams’ Robert Woods gives vote of approval to NFL initiative

When NFL players raised their voices about racial justice at the height of nationwide demonstrations in June, Rams wide receiver Robert Woods said talk was nice but it was time for “action” and get-out-the-vote drives should be part of it.

So Woods was pleased with the league’s announcement Thursday of an initiative called NFL Votes to encourage voter registration and participation in the Nov. 3 elections.

Woods said he might make personal appearances to encourage young people to register.

“I think my biggest thing will be getting the voters registered, (getting) our youth involved and really just being more involved in politics,” Woods said.

“A lot of people think our voices aren’t heard or voices don’t count, but (he’ll be) really encouraging the youth that our voices are heard, and our voices do matter.”

The league said that in its NFL Votes initiative, it will work with the organizations Rock the Vote, RISE to Vote and I am a voter. All are nonprofit and nonpartisan.

The goal is to register current and former players and club and league employees to vote, and support players who undertake voter-registration drives in their teams’ communities, their hometowns, their college campuses, their high schools and military bases.

“We’re launching NFL Votes to inspire everyone in the NFL family — including our fans — to participate in the civic process by getting registered to vote and ultimately exercising their right to vote,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement.

“When meeting with players and (NFL) legends to listen to the things they’re passionate about, voting is clearly an issue of critical importance.”

Woods, 28, a Serra High (Gardena) and USC star going into his eighth pro season, originally spoke publicly about social justice issues in June, as did other Rams players and coach Sean McVay. That was after the death of a Black man named George Floyd in an encounter with  Minneapolis police officers inspired demonstrations in major cities. The demonstrations in Los Angeles brought four nights of curfews.

Back then, Woods described his experiences with police as a kid, being questioned when he and friends went to the movies outside their community and having an officer pull a gun during a routine traffic stop.

The Rams convened a video-stream meeting June 1 to talk about the nationwide strife. Woods was one of the players who spoke.

He said players continue to talk about social issues and the work of the Players Coalition, founded in 2017 by Anquan Boldin and Malcolm Jenkins to promote social justice and racial equality.

Back to business

In a Zoom chat with reporters on the fourth day of Rams training camp in Thousand Oaks, Woods said he and the Rams have talked about a new contract.

He’s due to make $7 million, including a $5 million salary, in the fourth year of a five-year contract. That deal’s $6.8 million-a-year average is 37th biggest among NFL wide receivers. Woods’ 1,219 and 1,134 yards receiving the past two seasons ranked 11th and 16th at the position.

“I’ve been working here for the Rams and want to be here for the rest of my career, keep playing here in L.A.,” Woods said. “I want to get the job done and be here long-term.”

Woods said training camp feels “definitely not normal” because of daily coronavirus testing and social distancing measures, but it’s good to get on the field with teammates after an offseason of video-stream meetings and unofficial workouts.

“Early on, during the virtual stuff this offseason, it didn’t seem like football was possible,” he said. “But being here, being back in the facility, you definitely know football is back, training camp is here and we’re ready to kick off this 2020 season.”

Opting in

The NFL’s deadline passed Thursday without any more Rams players opting out of the season because of the coronavirus.

Offensive tackle Chandler Brewer opted out last week because his 2018 bout with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma left him at risk to COVID-19.

In all, 66 players — from 29 of the 32 teams — chose to sit out.

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