A Trojan Makes His Return to L.A. with the Rams

When the NFL team returned to Los Angeles, it was a personal homecoming for Todd Davis ’88, JD ’91.

December 07, 2016 Benjamin Gleisser

When the Los Angeles Rams ran onto the Coliseum field in September for the team’s first home game in L.A. in 23 years, no one cheered louder than Todd Davis ’88, JD ’91, the Rams’ vice president of legal affairs. That’s because it was also a personal homecoming: Davis has been with the Rams for 25 years and was a legal assistant in 1994 when the football team left Los Angeles for St. Louis.

“When we moved, it felt like I was betraying my city, but I take great pride in knowing that I helped bring the team back, and it feels absolutely amazing!” says Davis, a Los Angeles native and second-generation Trojan.

As the franchise’s sole legal counsel, Davis’ job is to negotiate and review every contract that goes through the organization—except player contracts—ranging from licensing and sponsorship deals to vendor and employee agreements. He also handles team litigation and human resources and worker’s compensation issues.

For Davis, the team’s battles aren’t just on the field. “I’ve negotiated multimillion-dollar sponsorship contracts where six to 10 attorneys sat on one side of the table and it was just me on the other side,” he says with a grin. “It felt like the whole room was against me. But I love that kind of challenge.”

An avid football and basketball player growing up, Davis realized early in high school that his NFL and NBA dreams might not pan out. As a USC undergrad, he studied accounting to better understand the financial aspects of professional sports and started thinking about a career in sports management.

“Though USC didn’t have a sports law program, professors like Charles Whitebread and Erwin Chemerinsky pushed me to follow my dream and never give up,” he says.

While at USC Gould School of Law, he networked with sports organizations and met former Rams President John Shaw, who suggested he look him up after graduation.

“I was given a couple of small projects to work on and was told, ‘Under no circumstance will this turn into a full-time job,’” Davis remembers. “So while I was there, I did anything, no matter what the task was. I worked on legal issues, ran errands and drove people around town—whatever grunt work had to be done. It’s an attitude I’ve kept through my career: When you are willing and able to do any job, no matter how important or irrelevant, people value your service.”

Davis is also on the board of the Rams Foundation, which works to provide benefits to underserved communities. Building playgrounds is one of their signature projects. “I’ve pushed wheelbarrows of mulch, screwed in swing sets, and one afternoon, painted about 20 dorm rooms for at-risk youth,” he says. “Work like that is a lot of fun, and I believe it’s important to be involved in the community.”

He loves his job, but it does have one quirk. “When the team’s not doing well, people seem to think I have the influence to make changes on the field,” he says. “People call me up and ask why did this guy get hurt, who the quarterback is going to be, or if I can suggest or make play calls. I just have to laugh about it.”