Super Bowl weekend is about so much more than just the big game, even though we know that it means a helluva a lot for LA Rams fans when your team wins!
As we have proven time and time again with our Community Impact series, the NFL — from a league- and team-level down to individual players — is also invested in giving back to the community and honoring those who won’t be rewarded with diamond-studded Super Bowl rings for their hard work and accomplishments throughout the season.
Here are just some of the events that celebrated the heart and soul of the NFL over Super Bowl LVI weekend in Los Angeles:
LA Rams’ Super Bowl Week youth events
The LA Rams are one of the most community-driven teams in the league, as was proven by 2021 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award honoree Andrew Whitworth. And just because the team was playing in Super Bowl LVI, that didn’t mean the organization as whole wasn’t also going to continue its work giving back to the community. Leading up to Super Bowl LVI, the Rams hosted a series of Super Bowl Week activations to engage local fans and students throughout the LA region, such as celebrating youth and high school football with co-ed programs designed to enhance the values and transferable life skills associated with football. Another of the events was centered in the Watts neighborhood, where the Rams teamed up with Nike for Nike 11-On — a scholastic, team-oriented, character-building program that included a dance clinic where Rams Cheerleaders led students from Everybody Dance LA! (top photo), and a girls flag football combine.
NFL Alumni Legends Party
The best kind of fundraisers are the ones where you get to party with your NFL idols and raise money for a good cause! And it doesn’t get any more hyped than partying with four-time Super Bowl champion Rob Gronkowski — especially when he brings fellow NFL legends Emmitt Smith, Jerry Rice, Vernon Davis and Doug Flutie along with him. That was the high-caliber, multi-championship, Hall of Fame and future Hall of Fame lineup that graced the stage at the Avalon in Hollywood on Friday night for the NFL Alumni Legends Party presented by USA Today.
Adding to the A-list caliber was the one and only Flo Rida, who blasted out a special high-octane performance for the VIP guests. It was far from the first time that Gronk and Flo had graced the stage together — they set sail across the Caribbean together on the Gronk Party Cruise in 2016, and reunited ahead of Super Bowl LIV in Miami. “It has been two years since Flo Rida and I hung out at Gronk beach, so I am really looking forward to hosting the party where he will be performing,” the tight end said. Flo also brought the one and only Flava Flav to clock in with him on stage, as DJ Kim Lee spun on the decks.
Most importantly, the Legends party benefited real legends, via an online auction raising money for NFL Alumni’s Caring For Kids program, which fosters youth fitness and safety programs through sports by presenting prominent and successful athletes as role models. “The Legends Party not only brings an exclusive and enjoyable level of entertainment to the Big Game week, but more importantly, brings awareness and fundraising for our Caring for Kids initiative,” Beasley Reece, CEO of the NFL Alumni Association said.
“What’s cool about it is that I actually hosted the USA Today High School Sports Awards program last year, honoring awesome high school athletes, coaches, and teams across the nation. So hosting this party kind of just went together,” Gronk told People ahead of the party.
Taste of the NFL
For the past 31 years, Taste of the NFL has been raising money to fight hunger and food insecurity while serving delectable bites from award-winning chefs. This year’s event was held at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles with the G.O.A.T.s of the culinary world such as Andrew Zimmern, Carla Hall, Tim Love, Mark Bucher and Lasheeda Perry, plus local area LA chefs from the PepsiCo Foundation IMPACTO Hispanic Business Accelerator and Black Restaurant Accelerator programs. Aside from serving championship-worthy food and drinks, the aim of the event was to bring together thought leaders from the NFL, social justice organizations and the food and beverage industry to promote diversity, equality and inclusion. A portion of the funds raised went to support the Los Angeles Unified School District and its Kool Kitchens renovations program, a district-wide initiative addressing student food insecurity.
The PepsiCo Foundation also partnered with GENYOUth’s End Student Hunger Fund to address childhood hunger on a national level and to bring local support to the Los Angeles community. The effort is part of Food for Good, PepsiCo’s global goal to help 50 million people gain ready access to nutritious foods by 2030. “Frito-Lay is committed to the communities in which we live and work. Our commitment to Los Angeles through this program is to renovate kitchens in five Los Angeles Unified School District schools, with the goal of increasing students’ school meal participation by 15 percent,” said Steven Williams, CEO, PepsiCo Foods North America. “As we deliver food equity and nourishment to students who need it most, we’re making a positive impact and helping to build the foundation for a brighter future.”
The Players Tailgate
You can’t have a Super Bowl without a tailgate party, and the annual Players Tailgate brought all your favorite big game food to the big stage. Chicken wings, tri-tip, mac and cheese, and tacos were served alongside lobster, grilled octopus, and fresh oysters at the event held at the grounds of the old Hollywood Park Casino next to SoFi Stadium on Super Bowl Sunday morning. One benefit of Players Tailgate, which was presented by the Bullseye Event Group, is that guests can just walk straight over to the game afterwards, but the real beneficiaries are charitable partners Operation BBQ Relief and the Irie Foundation. Operation BBQ Relief responds to natural disasters and other situations to help feed displaced residents and emergency personnel, while the Irie Foundation works year-round to improve and create a positive impact on the lives of South Florida’s at-risk youth. The tailgate was hosted by celebrity chef Guy Fieri, who joined ESPN’s Sage Steele on stage to interview a slew of NFL stars and have them predict the final score of Super Bowl LVI. One of those NFL icons was former Raiders Super Bowl champion Charles Woodson, who was (literally) pouring his Intercept Wines for guests.
After the event, a national group called Food Recovery Network packed the surplus food to be donated and transported it to local nonprofits that feed food-insecure Angelenos. They were able to recover 1,905 pounds of surplus food from the Players Tailgate by Sunday evening that was then shared with those in need.