Cal Bears

Ex-Cal football player Eric Stevens fighting for ALS cure after diagnosis

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AP

Ex-Cal football player Eric Stevens fighting for ALS cure after diagnosis

Former Cal Bears fullback Eric Stevens now is a Los Angeles City firefighter. He knows what it's like to put others' lives ahead of his own. 

Now, his family hopes those will return the favor.

Stevens was diagnosed with ALS at the age of 29, soon after getting married to the woman of his dreams.

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Let’s help Eric #axeALS!!!! #TeamStevensNation

A post shared by Stevens Nation (@teamstevensnation) on

"The diagnosis and subsequent education they received about the horrific disease was the worst news one could ever imagine," a Facebook post dedicated to "Team Stevens Nation," described.

ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis -- also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, is a debilitating and incurable disease that causes the death of neurons controlling voluntary muscles. With a life expectancy between two and five years, paralysis comes much quicker. And there is much unknown about it. 

While there are many treatments going through clinical trials that are showing promise, there is still a 50 percent chance those could receive a placebo over the actual treatment.

"There is NO reason why a person with a terminal diagnosis should receive placebo over the actual treatment," the Facebook page explains. "Another downside to these clinical trials is they are a year-long process, and time is the one thing ALS patients don't have. Every single day without treatment is a day lost."

Those can donate to and share the family's GoFundMe page here

Stevens, now 30, totaled 14 carries for 53 yards, and 13 catches for 82 yards and one touchdown in his career at Cal that spanned from 2008-2012. But despite playing sparingly, he was voted team captain.

He was signed by the Rams as an undrafted free agent in 2013, but never played a snap in the NFL.

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"Given his strong determination and success in anything he puts his mind to, Eric has chosen to fight and advocate for getting drugs and treatments available to patients NOW," the Facebook group wrote. "Eric's goal with the help of his family and friends is to raise awareness for ALS and act now toward getting treatments available."

Cal football coach Justin Wilcox gets mic'd up for close look at Bears

Cal football coach Justin Wilcox gets mic'd up for close look at Bears

With Cal's late-night win over 14th-ranked Washington on Saturday, Golden Bears coach Justin Wilcox now has a winning record (14-13) in his two-plus seasons in Berkeley.

After inheriting the program from Sonny Dykes, 42-year-old Wilcox is trying to build a winning culture, and he let NBC Sports Bay Area catch a glimpse of what he's working on, granting exclusive access to Monday's practice.

"We hold them to really high standards, but that's what this place is about," Wilcox said. "You gotta have something to you. You gotta have the 'figure-it-out factor,' as we call it. This place attracts people like that. It's a big draw for us."

Two days after the big win, Wilcox allowed NBC Sports Bay Area to mic him up for Cal's practice, and the relationship with his players was on full display. There was no yelling, no scolding. Only teaching.

"I just love how even-keeled he is. No matter if we do good or do bad, he's always ready to coach us, no matter what," Bears cornerback Camryn Bynum said. "Fix any mistakes, even if we had the best game we ever played -- he's always finding something to fix. As a player, he always holds us accountable to always get better every single day."

The last time the Bears made consecutive bowl appearances was 2008 and 2009. Wilcox is trying to end that drought this season, but he knows his 2-0 team has much work to do.

"To do what we want to do as a team, it's imperative that we improve every week," Wilcox said. "If they continue to practice like this and pour their heart into the meetings, we will improve, but we're a long way from where we could be."

The Bears will host North Texas on Saturday at 1:15 p.m. PT, and then travel to Oxford, Miss., to face Ole Miss before Pac-12 Conference play resumes.

New Aaron Rodgers-gifted locker room has Cal football team fired up

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USATSI

New Aaron Rodgers-gifted locker room has Cal football team fired up

Aaron Rodgers: fashion icon, rocket-armed quarterback, mustache marvel and proud Cal alum.

The Green Bay Packers star quarterback made a seven-figure donation to his alma mater back in June to revamp the football program's locker room and create the Aaron Rodgers Football Scholarship. The scholarship will go to one junior college transfer per season.

Rodgers, a Chico native, transferred to Cal after playing his freshman season at Butte College.

As for the locker room renovations, those recently were completed and this year's Bears were fired up about their new digs. 

Pretty, pretty flossy.

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Head coach justin Wilcox has put together an impressive defense that helped the Bears go 7-5 last season and earn a berth in the Cheez-It Bowl where they eventually lost to TCU.

Cal opens its season Saturday against UC-Davis.