While we all want to know what Todd Gurley’s status with the Rams will be for the upcoming 2020 season, he is focused on football on a whole other continent.
Turf Show Times caught up with Gurley - who is currently in Budapest, Hungary, taking part in the American Football Without Barriers overseas program for the first time - in a phone interview over the weekend.
When asked about his role and the Rams’ offense, Gurley politely said he is focusing on the offseason and the AFWB foundation at this time of year but did say “football is all about ups and downs. Everything isn’t always perfect. It’s about making adjustments and that is what we’ll do and come back strong.”
In the meantime, the Rams’ star running back and avid traveler is collecting yet more stamps in his almost-full passport. He makes about four trips to Europe every offseason but the one he’s currently on has a special humanitarian purpose.
The AFWB has been going to different countries for the past eight years to help promote American football and aid local communities.
Gurley, along with 18 other current and former NFL players, has spent the past week in Budapest teaching the game to men, women and children in free camps and clinics.
In a call shortly after finishing an evening camp, Gurley filled me in on why this offseason trip has more meaning than his past European vacations to London, Paris or Italy.
“It’s been an incredible trip … it’s been life changing. It really has,” he said.
When close friend and former NFL running back DeAngelo Williams, who is deeply involved with AFWB, approached Gurley about going to Budapest, Gurley didn’t hesitate.
“I’m always down for a camp,” he said. “I love working with the kids.”
Gurley attends several camps a year across the U.S., often helping teammates and other players around the NFL with their camps. He also runs his own camp in his home state of North Carolina and is planning to attend a camp in Japan later this offseason.
Needless to say, he was Gurley was immediately hooked on the AFWB idea.
AFWB is a nonprofit foundation that was co-created by former Pro Bowl tight end Gary Barnidge. In addition to Barnidge, Gurley and Williams, other players on this year’s trip include Atlanta tight end Austin Hooper, Atlanta linebacker Deion Jones, Carolina running back Mike Davis, Cleveland defensive back Damarious Randall and Houston linebacker Barkevious Mingo.
“It’s been a lot of fun to spend time with guys around the league who I wouldn’t normally get the chance to,” Gurley said. “I’m making friends and hanging out with a lot of cool guys. It’s been an amazing week.”
This tweet from AFWB PR head Scott Yoffe illustrates the camaraderie Gurley talked about:
After two great days of camp and sharing #NFL #football in #Hungary, today the fellas from @AFWBCAMP enjoyed a trip to the Hungarian village of #Eger for a tour of the #EgerCastle and a private dinner at the @PetrenyPince - #afwb2020 #afwbcamp #afwb #Budapest pic.twitter.com/eAy4zseUzp— Scott Yoffe Communications (@ScottYoffeComms) March 2, 2020
But Gurley said he’s been most impressed by the ability and knowledge of American football displayed by the people in Hungary.
“The agility part is a little different because these kids are used to playing soccer and rugby instead of American football,” he explained. “But, really, they were catching on pretty fast. It’s been a lot of fun to watch. This has been such a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me.”
When it comes to his own performance back home, Rams’ coach Sean McVay talked last week about getting the running game back on track.
The Rams’ offense took a dip in 2019 after an explosive 2018 season in which they made it to the Super Bowl. The Rams scored 8.3 less points a game in 2019 than they did in 2018.
Gurley ran for 1,251 yards and averaged 4.9 yards per carry in 2018. He ran for 857 yards and averaged 3.8 yards per carry last season. He had 31 receptions last season after having 59 the season before. Still, McVay’s comments made it clear that the issues were with the entire offense — and not all on Gurley.