THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- Connor Barwin, the Los Angeles Rams' new outside linebacker, doesn't fit the mold of your stereotypical football player. He is environmentally conscious, prefers getting around on his road bike, loves watching local bands, wears V-neck T-shirts and appreciates a good pourover coffee.
He is, in many ways, a hipster (though hipsters never really admit to being hipsters).
Barwin compiled 46 sacks while playing in all 96 regular-season games from 2011 to '16. He spent his first four years with the Houston Texans and his next four with the Philadelphia Eagles, who released Barwin after the 2016 season and paved the way for his one-year deal with the Rams in the middle of March. Before all that, he was raised alongside three brothers in Hazel Park, Michigan, just north of Detroit. His parents stressed the need for balance in one's life.
"Sports were never a huge focus," Barwin said. "There was never anything that was really a big focus. Well, maybe school. But it was school, sports, learn an instrument. It was kind of this idea that you had to be a well-rounded person. The best citizen was a well-rounded individual."
Barwin didn't completely take to that, because regardless of his outside interests, he's still all-in on this football thing. He loves the game, loves working out, loves all of the details that go into training. You can't do the things he has in this game without a mindset like that. But Barwin, 30, and newly married, is also all about the local scene. In Philadelphia, he started the Make The World Better Foundation. It began by refurbishing an abandoned basketball court -- now a big hit in the community -- and will announce plans for a fourth project later this summer.
Barwin wants to contribute on the West Coast, too, but two things need to happen: He needs to sign an extension, and he needs to settle in. He's still living out of a hotel in Westlake Village, which is in many ways the anti-L.A. But soon Barwin and his wife will settle into a rented house in Malibu -- 20 miles from Thousand Oaks, where the Rams train, and 40 miles from Silver Lake, where the hipsters hang.
"I gotta kind of ingrain myself in the community here before I'm ready to take that on," Barwin said. "I just got here. I'm super focused on this season, because it's right here in front of us. But that would be something that I would really kick into gear come February -- after the season is over and we get a couple of down months, and I kind of know my way around L.A. a little bit more."
Barwin sat down with ESPN late last week to talk about his outside interests, the hipster label and the one job he cares most about. The interview has been edited for brevity.
Based on all I've read about you, it seems like L.A. is really your scene. Am I wrong about that?
Barwin (laughing): I don't know because I've only been out here two months, and we're out here in Thousand Oaks [part of Ventura County, just north of the County of Los Angeles]. I don't know if that's L.A. But on the weekends I've gotten around a little bit. I've kind of gone back and forth. It seems like I'm on vacation every weekend.
Because of the weather?
Barwin: I don't know what it is. Probably mostly the weather and the water, I guess. But I'm excited to be here.
I know you like to ride your bike almost everywhere. Can you do that out here?
Barwin: That will be harder here, yeah. Surprisingly it was cool to see how much public transit L.A. had. But riding your bike for functional use isn't going to happen here.
So instead you have your Tesla [he has a Model X out here and a Model S in Philly]. Do you own the only Tesla in the players' parking lot?
Has that always been the case?
Barwin: Yep. Always the case. But guys are into Teslas now. When I drove a Prius in Houston, that was really out there. It was before driving electric was cool.
You've been to Coachella a lot [five times]. Do you have a favorite Coachella moment or year?
Barwin: This year was probably my last one. But every year, it's gotten better. I mean, the music is always great. There's obviously some highs and lows in some of the shows you see, but I feel like when you go to Coachella -- you can go to Coachella every year, and every year [you will see something new]. ... It's a huge production. You gotta know how to do it, so to speak.
What to do when you're camping out?
Barwin: Well, if you know how to do it, you know you don't camp out (laughs). So, we rent a house. We always get a better house every year. You get one close to the venue, and you learn how to go through that weekend. Me and my group of friends who always go have got it down pretty good. Every year it gets better.
So you have mastered Coachella, and now you're retiring from it?
Barwin: Yeah, I think so. When you're my age, you retire. I'm married, you know. It's done. I'm done.
Barwin: That's for after I'm done playing football, because that's in September. So I'll do that when I'm done. Maybe I'll do that when I'm done.
Have you thought about how much longer you want to play?
Barwin: Yeah, I think I want to play 12 years. This will be nine, so I think I have four more. I'd like to do three stints of four – Houston, Philly and L.A.
So, four with the Rams?
Barwin: Yeah, that'd be great. I gotta get to that new stadium [in 2020].
Is that the goal?
Barwin: That's the goal.
What to do you think playing in Wade Phillips' system will do for what remains of your career?
Barwin: It was definitely part of my decision. I loved playing for Wade [while with the Texans in 2011-12], just in general. But I think playing in this system will be good for me to keep playing for a couple more years, because it takes advantage of what I do well. It allows me to still play every single snap. Play first down, second down, rush the passer on third down, but be able to cover guys when I need to -- tight ends, running backs, that sort of thing.
What's your favorite Wade Phillips story?
Barwin: It's just the way he is with words. ... He's very subtle in some of the things he says, but you always have to pay attention, because everything he says is usually pretty damn important. My favorite Wade Phillips line, back in Houston, is, "Good times and hard work go together. But hard work always comes first." It's one of my favorite sayings of all time. But he's got dozens of those.
So how do you feel about the term "hipster football player"?
Barwin (laughing): I don't know. I don't really have any feeling about it. ... I'm fine with it, I guess. But no one calls me that around here, in the locker room or anything like that. I mean I guess they did a little bit in Philly.
Well, they don't really know you here yet.
Barwin: Yeah, I guess they don't know me yet (laughs). But I don't mind. I embrace it. I embrace the kind of things that I'm interested in outside of football. I think it's important. And for me, that's always been a fun part is kind of introducing guys in the locker room to some of that stuff. Whenever I've done that, guys have always enjoyed it. And that's been a cool part for me.