By Kate Cagle

Daily Press Staff Writer

An aging Los Angeles football legend who has already tackled major obstacles in his storied career is gearing up to take on a new challenge: running for Governor of California in 2018.

Rosey Grier plans to enter the race that’s already getting crowded with candidates like Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, State Treasurer John Chiang, former L.A. mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the former California superintendent of public instruction Delaine Eastin. This is the first time the 84-year-old Christian minister has run for public office.

Grier, who worked with Robert F. Kennedy and was present at his assassination, says he was recently inspired by his late friend and Martin Luther King Junior to run.

“I looked in the mirror and said ‘what are you risking?’ I should run for governor if I want to see a change in our communities,” Grier said over the phone from his office on Wilshire Boulevard.

Grier is perhaps best known as a member of The Fearsome Foursome defensive line when he played for the L.A. Rams in the 1960s. Grier began his career at Penn State and moved on to play for the Giants in 1955 and then the Rams. After retiring from football, Grier worked as a bodyguard for Robert Kennedy’s 1968 presidential campaign. Minutes after Kennedy’s assassination, Grier took control of the gun and subdued the shooter, Sirhan Sirhan.

Recently, Grier has committed most of his time to public speaking and helping various foundations. Grier is a member of the Milken Family Foundation board of trustees and program director of community affairs.

Despite his close ties to the Kennedy family, Grier is a Republican who endorsed president-elect Donald Trump days before the November election.

“He was the man who was a businessman,” Grier said. “We need to look at our country as a business.” So far, the ex-footballer says he supports Trump’s controversial cabinet picks.

“I became a Republican when they took prayer out of schools and President Reagan was trying to get it back,” Grier said. Grier added he believes children should learn the Ten Commandments and the 23rd Psalm.

In 2008, however, Grier says he cried as he watched Barack Obama receive the Democratic nomination for president. He felt honored to vote for the first black president, but he says he was disappointed in President Obama’s leadership over the last eight years. Grier says he wrote Obama three separate times offering advice.

“I didn’t hear anything back and I didn’t see him in the community. The only time I saw that he was here, it (cost) like 100,000 dollars a plate and that was not in my budget.”

Over the past decades, various presidents have honored Grier and he says he still has a close relationship with President H.W. Bush. When they recently talked on the phone Grier did not mention his plans to run for governor but said he “always feel encouraged when I talk to him.” Grier says he hasn’t spoken to state leaders with the Republican Party either.

Going forward, Grier says he’s guided by his faith in God and his desire to help the community.