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Isaac Rochell sees his obligation as a pro athlete extend beyond the gridiron

Chargers defensive lineman Isaac Rochell looks on from the sidelines during a game.
Chargers defensive lineman Isaac Rochell is no stranger when it comes to promoting causes and helping charities.
(Charlie Neibergall / Associated Press)

He’s up at 6 a.m. most days, pushing his 6-foot-4, 280-pound body through a lifting regimen inside a gym he has pieced together in his apartment complex.

And Isaac Rochell, defensive lineman with the Chargers, usually has a training partner, one who might seem unlikely: the team’s placekicker, Michael Badgley.

“Obviously, I double the weight he’s doing in everything,” Rochell joked. “Despite him being a kicker, whatever that means, he’s actually a really, really good person to work out with.”

Badgley mans one of the most niche positions in all of sports, but he’s known for his athletic ability. Growing up, he played lacrosse at a high level and also played hockey.

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He and Rochell are good friends and neighbors in Huntington Beach, the two teammates spending more time together now given the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The past several weeks have been a continuous series of adjustments for athletes all over the world. Rochell also moved to host a few of his fellow Chargers for workouts on the beach.

Former Chargers running back Melvin Gordon says he’s ready to play in empty stadiums amid the coronavirus outbreak because the Chargers didn’t have many fans.

Defensive linemen Justin Jones and Jerry Tillery, linebacker Uchenna Nwosu and offensive lineman Trent Scott have joined him at different times for the twice-a-week sessions.

“Yeah, we do stand out,” Rochell said. “It’s funny because random people will come by and try to get in our workouts. We’re like, ‘Look, we’re here to train, not to hang out.’ ”

With a notable increase in free time these days, Rochell has expanded in areas away from football too.

He recently started “Local Human,” an apparel company designed to support various charities and serve the community.

For each T-shirt sold, the company sends a T-shirt to a local foster center. They also donate $10 per shirt to a designated organization of the month. May’s recipient is the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

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“It started from quarantine,” Rochell said. “We had tons of extra time. We also had this want to help people. I think a lot of people in the midst of this feel that way. We said, ‘Let’s start something to give people a chance to give back.’ ”

Chargers defensive lineman Isaac Rochell celebrates with teammate Joey Bosa.
Chargers defensive lineman Isaac Rochell, right, celebrates with defensive end Joey Bosa during a game against the Packers in November.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

So he partnered with another neighbor, Trevor Beck. The two met because both are dog owners.

“When you’re in quarantine and you have a dog and you’re at the dog park all the time, those people sort of become your quarantine crew,” Rochell said. “We spent so much time together that we decided to do something about it.”

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They originally planned to call the company “Six Feet Away,” a nod to the guidelines of social distancing. But Rochell said they changed their minds because they didn’t want to be forever linked to COVID-19.

Instead, he suggested “Local Human” since the name purposely excludes no one.

“Everybody’s local to somewhere and everybody’s human,” Rochell explained. “It’s just a very inclusive name.”

This isn’t Rochell’s first venture into promoting a cause. After being a seventh-round pick out of Notre Dame in 2017, he started a campaign called “See You on Sunday.”

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Chargers quarterback coach Pep Hamilton said he doesn’t believe the pandemic restrictions will hinder the development of top draft pick Justin Herbert much.

That movement is designed to encourage people to stay off social media on Saturdays. The program grew from Rochell’s own obsession with platforms like Twitter.

“I think I have an obligation,” he said. “As a professional athlete, I have a voice. I have enough of a following to share a message. And I like to think I have the education and the mind to do these things.

“With all those things put together it seems like a no-brainer for me to be doing stuff like this. Some athletes would disagree. But, you know, I was fortunate enough to be put in this situation.”

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VIDEO | 06:52
Chargers’ defensive lineman Isaac Rochell tells LA Times Today’s Lisa McRee how he is helping his community.

Watch LA Times Today at 7 PM/10PM on channel 1 on Spectrum News 1, and on Cox systems in Palos Verdes and Orange County on channel 99.


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