THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Going to a new NFL team after spending 10 seasons with another represents a significant change in a veteran player's career.
Yet as linebacker Bobby Wagner finds himself making that transition from the Seahawks to the Rams this year, the only real changes are learning a new defensive system – and getting re-acclimated to the one thing he had growing up near Los Angeles that he didn't have back in Seattle.
"I think the biggest adjustment is just learning the plays and things like that," Wagner said during a video conference with reporters Wednesday. "And then biggest thing is getting used to the traffic again, because my commute (in Seattle) was at most, two to three minutes tops. Traffic out here, I'm probably traveling like 45 minutes on a good day."
Congested roadways notwithstanding, Wagner's transition has otherwise gone smoothly when it comes to both learning the defense and getting to know his new teammates.
Wagner said Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris came from the same defensive system he did when Morris arrived in Los Angeles, so Morris has made the same transition Wagner is making now, which is beneficial from a communication standpoint.
"We're able to talk about certain terminologies, he's able to break down the defense in a way that I can understand, because we're basically speaking the same language," Wagner said. "He just obviously has a couple of years before me."
Wagner is "pretty intentional" about establishing relationships in his new locker room. He focuses primarily on being himself while also understanding the Rams operate in a certain way. Once he reaches a level of comfort understanding how the team operates, he starts to teach and pass down his experience to younger players.
It helps, too, that they have common interests like basketball and music to build those bonds – though that doesn't necessarily mean they agree on everything related to those subjects.
"I think everybody bonds over basketball, whether you have a good a good team or you think you're a good basketball player. So we're gonna see who's who's the best on the team at some point," Wagner said. "So that's definitely one, and music is definitely another because, I'm from California, so Kendrick (Lamar) is naturally my favorite, and we have guys that think otherwise. So we have very strong opinions on you know, who's running the (rap) game right now."
When not learning the defense or more about his teammates, Wagner is using his time to take advantage of the resources at his disposal with the Rams to help accomplish his future goal of becoming president of an NFL team. He said people in the organization's business and personnel departments have reached out and expressed a desire to help him reach that goal.
"I think that's really cool to have an organization that understands I'm here to play football, but obviously it doesn't last forever," Wagner said. "For them to want to help me in any way they can to kind of accomplish that goal, I think it's pretty cool."