You can't miss Ethan Westbrooks. He has a golden smile... literally. Since coming into the league with Aaron Donald, he has become one of the brightest spots in the Rams locker room.
Nobody really speaks of it, but everybody has it on the brain. You come to work every day. What’s understood don’t need to be explained. And it’s very much understood what the goal at hand is. Since day one.
Sarina: Let's talk about being a back-to-back NFC West champion.
Ethan: I mean at this point, it's kind of like you want more because you expect more. So, the NFC West Championship is always a nice title to have, but that's not what you get up at 8:00am and practicing in the summertime for. You want that Bowl. We take it one day at a time. We just keep working. We don't expect nothing less.
Sarina: Would you say it's like, you finally like you got a taste of ice cream and now you want the hot fudge and the cherry on top? (laughs)
Ethan: It's like you expect it. You just work hard. You put your everything into it. I think as a group, as a staff, just as a whole team we've been building together. The expectations are way more than a scoop of ice cream. Like you get it, and nobody is really happy or surprised about it. You eat that the same way you eat the *L* from the Saints. You know? You just swallow it and keep it moving. Of course, an ice cream scoop with KC tastes a lot better than gritting your teeth about an *L* with the Saints. (Smiles) But I think expectations, when everyone has them, it just makes it so much more than an NFC West Championship.
Sarina: That's funny you say expectations. Obviously, me being around the team, I'm aware there is this expectation. You acknowledge it. You win the NFC West, but there is this sense of… there is so much more than this. This is just the beginning.
Ethan: And that's what it is. Not so much like, this is just the beginning, but more like… you doing what you are supposed to do; keep on doing it. It's just like, you keep your head down. You grind.
Sarina: It seems like the expectation is…
Ethan: It's a well understood thing. Nobody really speaks of it, but everybody has it on the brain. You come to work every day. What's understood don't need to be explained. And it's very much understood what the goal at hand is. Since day one.
Sarina: Since Sean McVay came? What has changed from this season? Winning mentality?
Ethan: I don't think anyone plays to lose or be mediocre. Sean McVay obviously brought something that we didn't have before and was able to pull what we already had here together. Because last year was very much a product of the guys that have been here and so he found a way to win with that. And then this year I think he did things his way. A little different. Brought in a different cast and put it together. It seems to be, almost, not even a repeat because I'm pretty sure at this point in time last year we had two or three losses.
Sarina: You went 11 and 5 last year.
Ethan: Yeah, so last year we were jumping for joy at 11 and 5. This year, we like, we shouldn't be losing to anybody. I think Coach McVay amplifies and brings a lot to us as we give back to him. Expectations, when you notice you have a kind of caliber people, a caliber kind of team, it just becomes expectations that are understood.
Sarina: Okay, so let's get to it… what is it about guys from Oakland and big personalities? (laughs)
Ethan: That's just the way we raised. We are very outspoken. You see where Oakland cats come from, the town and what not. Football is just a little outlet. When you dope at it, a lot of people around you want to see you do good at it just because of the environment that you grow up in. It's gritty so, you kind of take on your own personality. When you dope at something, you going to talk trash. Like that's just what it is. I think in football, shoot, that's all you really do. It's not like it was before, but when you know you dope at something, you got confidence in yourself, I think that's what Oakland, a lot of Oakland cats are about. We real confident. Some people would call it cocky, but that's just a different swag. We full of ourselves. That's just what it is. And that's from a young age. I don't know, from the music to the neighborhoods you grow up in, the people you are around. You get so much love from the people you are around growing up.
I feel like the hardest thing today is to be happy and children are like little happy batteries.
Sarina: You do a lot of community service. Especially with kids. They love you. What it is about kids that you love so much? How do they affect you?
Ethan: I think because I am a big kid at heart. And anyone that knows me would probably say that. Like, I never really want to grow up. I have five babies of my own. So, it's inevitable that I got to, I can't raise them like kids. The world is too messed up for that. But, nah, I rock with the kids at Watts a lot. The little Watts Bears. In any community service… they (kids) just have so much energy, so much life to them, so much positivity and in the world today you don't really see a lot of that happiness. I feel like the hardest thing today is to be happy and children are like little happy batteries. Like if you ever having a bad day go visit a children's hospital. My homegirl Dannaye just went to a children's hospital in LA and she told me she had to hold back from crying because it was so dope and I feel it. There's so much love that children have and to just look at them as children is not just cutting them short but cutting yourself short because from looking at a bigger picture. I respect children so much because they are very raw. But in life, they don't know much about life as a whole.
Sarina: Is it pure?
Ethan: It's very very pure. I respect it so much because they are so passionate about it at a young age, you can't help but want to facilitate their dream because that's all they know. And until someone tries to be a speed bump in their life, or try to tell them, 'why you don't you think about doing something else?' Because I had teachers, I had family members tell me 'You know so many people make it into the NFL.' Bet! Because I'm going to be one of those people that makes it into the league. And when you have that kind of confidence as I see a lot of children nowadays do. To me that's just such it's a beautiful thing because life is so hard to go through, that they are built with so much confidence, so much pure love, and so much thought that they are like, 'I could be whatever I want to be.' That's dope, like you should think like that. Bless the parents and the people that tell them that that is possible. You got to thank those people for giving them that vision, that love, and that insight.
At one point when my son was out here and I was going through custody stuff with having him out here, AD was like, ‘bring him through, you could drop him off at the house.’ I respect him. AD is a real stand up dude.
Sarina: What about Aaron Donald? When I watch you guys interact there is something special there.
Ethan: AD is super cool folk. Coming in, I went to the East-West Shrine Game… I don't know. You see cats like AD and you can't help but want to compete. You see AD, it's like an alpha male thing. AD is going to bring the best out in you. You want to be able to compete with someone like that. He was really quiet at first, when we first got in. But it was cool growing up with him in the NFL. AD has always been a cool cat.
Sarina: What is it about your relationship? I see it in the locker room. He jokes on you; you get on him. Then on the field you guys are… there is something special.
Ethan: I think there is a mutual respect for one another. I respect AD, I think he's going to be a legend, if he's not already, in this game. I feel like he knows I work hard to be where I am at today. I think there is just a mutual respect. Coming in together, time makes you know one another off the field, as well as on the field. We are in meetings joking. Joking in the locker room. You just get to know the cat personally. AD has kids. At one point when my son was out here and I was going through custody stuff with having him out here, AD was like, 'bring him through, you could drop him off at the house.' I respect him. AD is a real stand up dude. I think he's a dope father. He's just a real down to earth cat. Behind the football and everything, that's just who he is as a person. Just a regular dude that can just hang with and chop it up. He's rock solid. I have nothing but love and respect for him.