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Derwin James Takes Charge

After the Los Angeles Chargers suffered a disappointing end to a promising season, Derwin James looks to the future with Boardroom.

Strong safety Derwin James is an invaluable asset for the Los AngelesChargers. The No. 17 overall pick in the 2018 draft has broken out in his first three seasons, securing one All-Pro honor and two Pro Bowls in his young career.

After the Chargers narrowly missed the playoffs, losing in overtime to the Las Vegas Raiders in heartbreaking fashion in the final regular-season game, James spent the Friday before Super Bowl LVI vibing and thriving in Santa Monica, California, just one block from the Pacific Ocean.

The Florida State alum was decked out in a fluorescent green Dolce & Gabbana hoodie at a makeshift outdoor skating rink while representing Gillette as part of a new endorsement deal.

“Y’all see the cut. I even got fresh today. New razors,” James, 25, told Boardroom on a picture-perfect Southern California afternoon. “They’ve got the skating rink. It’s in the shape of the Gillette logo. I’m having a good time out here.”

James is more of a rollerblader himself. The last time he went skating was about a year-and-a-half ago when he was back home in his native Florida.

“I definitely like the skating vibes,” he said. “That was our thing growing up where I was from — go out to the Skate World, Skate Zone, and everybody was turning up Friday night.”

In a Q-&-A with Boardroom, James brought the energy that made him a Pro Bowler last season while discussing L.A.’s phenom quarterback Justin Herbert, his love of fashion and gaming, and why he doesn’t spend any of his salary from the Chargers.

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Obviously, Super Bowl LVI was at SoFi Stadium, your home stadium. What are your favorite things about the place?

It’s got to be all the screens, and you can see and hear everything. The audio’s really good. And then the locker rooms, the hot tubs, everything is just first class. Everything is new, so it’s not like the other spots that we go to. I’m definitely more of a hot tub guy than a cold tub guy. I’m hot. I don’t like anything cold. No cold weather.

So you must love Los Angeles

I love L.A. I’m from Florida, I’m spoiled with the weather. We’re out here, so I’m getting used to it.

Obviously, the season didn’t go the way you wanted it to in the end. But what do you take away from the season and how you guys performed?

I feel like we’ve got a great foundation. We didn’t win it all this year, but I feel like we built and established ourselves —our team and what we can be. Next year, we’ve just got to add a couple more pieces and just put it all together.

A big piece of that is Justin Herbert. When did you know that he was legit?

Day one. The first day I saw Justin Herbert, I told everybody, my coaches, that he’d be great. And now, look at him. It was the way he carried himself. First of all, you see a guy 6-foot-5, 6-foot-6 just walking, you know he’s gotta be doing something right. The first time I saw him throw the ball, I was like man, it just whistled, and I said this man’s different. And just his humbleness, how he works and competes, he’s got all the intangibles to be great. And he put it all together, Rookie of the Year.

And then you guys are putting it together on the defensive end to help him out.

We’ve gotta do more for him. I feel like the reason why we weren’t in the playoffs is that we’ve got to give him more on defense. We’re gonna get it done this year for him. I can’t wait.

Right now you’re living off your endorsement money and not your salary. What made you decide to do that?

Because I feel like it’s smart. You’ve got to invest in something because you’re not going to be playing and making this type of money forever. So when football is done, you’ve got to have something you could fall back on. I’ve always been a guy who knows how to save and manage my money. And I think I’m doing a pretty good job of it. I’ve got a whole team with financial advisors, marketing, an agent, everything.

What investments and stocks have you gotten into these days?

I can’t tell you all my stocks and bonds and stuff. But I’m in a lot of them, a lot of money invested. I’m in a couple of storage companies.

Are you into the NFT and crypto space at all?

So, I’ve been hearing a lot about it. I’m still doing my research. A lot of my friends have put all their money into it, but I’m not going to do that. You learn more every day about these different things, so you’ve got to keep educating yourself on it.

You were in the Madden Bowl during Super Bowl week. Are you a big gamer?

Big gamer. One of the best Madden players out there in the NFL. It’s just fun to be a part of it. To be in the game and be able to play the game is pretty cool. I also play any EA Sports game, like Madden, 2K, Fight Night.

What else do you like to do outside football?

I like to just chill. I’m like a granddad. I like to be at the house. I do like getting out with my friends, but I like to be on my game, chillin’ in the house, relaxing the body. I do like to shop. I like fashion. And just music.

You’ve got the Dolce & Gabbana sweatshirt, the flashy Nikes, the chain, the watch…

You know I’ve got the chain, icebox. The watch, Zo Frost. I’ve got the Gucci belt. It’s not too much, but something light. My favorite fashion brands? If I mention them, they’ve got to come holler at me. I really like Christian Louboutin, Dior, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Louis Vuitton.

Are you all about the sneaker culture?

I’ve got a lot of sneakers, so really I had never worn these, so I’ll wear these today. I’m a big sneakerhead. I’ve got all types of shoes. I just gave away like 100 pairs. I have some in Florida at my house, some in California. Really everywhere I go, I try to leave shoes — at least two pairs.

If you could rep or endorse one brand that you don’t endorse yet, what would it be and why?

See, that’s hard. I’m gonna make somebody mad, somebody jealous. I can’t answer that one. That’s a trap question. I want them all. Come holler at me.

You started the Safety Corner Foundation with Jalen Ramsey. Why is that so important to you?

Me and Jalen, my brother who I went to college with, we’re both out here in L.A. We’re both making plays on the field. So we said, Why not come together? Let’s impact kids and families across the L.A. area that have it hard, that don’t have it as good as other people. So we wanted to come together and help some kids out who are less fortunate than we are.

With the Olympics ongoing, what event winter or summer do you think you could win a gold in?

Probably weightlifting. But if I really had to pick one, probably something during the summer like basketball. I’m a hooper a little bit. If I was a couple of inches taller, I feel like I would’ve made the NBA. Anything I put my mind to, I feel like I can do. And you should always feel like that, too, as a person.

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