It was a few minutes before 6 Saturday night and a buzz was in the air at the Eldorado High School football field. In a few minutes, the Snoop Dogg All-Stars from California would be playing a similar group of 12- and 13-year-old all-stars from Las Vegas. And the man himself — Snoop — would be patrolling the sidelines as head coach.
And then, almost as if on cue, a giant cloud of smoke rose from above the end zone and wafted toward the playing field. It looked like the cloud of smoke in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" when Jeff Spicoli and his buddies pile out of the van before Mr. Hand’s U.S. History class.
False alarm. The cloud smelled like beef brisket. It was only barbecue smoke; one of the booster clubs was sponsoring a cookout beyond the goal post in the end zone.
A few minutes later, a cream-colored sedan roughly the size of the USS Yorktown pulled up to the gate. A funky hip-hop beat blared from the loudspeakers. People were busting moves. And then Snoop Dogg was leading his All-Stars onto the field. He was flanked by what appeared to be the Grambling offensive line — five behemoths who make up Snoop’s security force.
Seven Metro police officers were standing at the gate to the playing field. I suppose they were there in the event the Grambling offensive line couldn’t protect the quarterback. The chance of that happening, I immediately deduced, judging from the size of their necks, was roughly zero to the third power.
This was a preview of the Las Vegas chapter of the Snoop Youth Football League, which will kick off in the fall. It is the third such league founded by the rap music mogul to make organized football more available to inner-city youth, joining the charter circuit in the Los Angeles area and one in Chicago.
"There’s not a lot of real good youth football leagues out here to support the single moms and the people who really need the help with the finances to play football," said Snoop, whose real name is Calvin Broadus, during a halftime interview. "So we’re just coming out here to make football a fun thing, to put it back in the inner city where it’s supposed to be at … and to find some future NFL all-stars."
One of those might be Snoop’s son Cordell Broadus, who made a diving catch of a long pass for the Snoop All-Stars and possesses the skill set to help UNLV in passing situations right now.
"We just want ’em to have fun and to let ’em know we made it happen for y’all," Snoop said about the satisfaction derived from putting a million dollars of one’s own money toward getting these leagues up and running.
"That’s what the world’s about, just trying to bring kids together and unite and make them understand they can make it to the next level. Because if you believe in yourself, you never know what you could become or who you could become."
Then Snoop started preaching peace, love and harmony and performed some dance steps that were part Jay-Z, part Ickey Shuffle. He did not talk about bringing back "Doggy Fizzle Televizzle," the sketch comedy show he starred in and produced for MTV.
To say Snoop has had his share of run-ins with the law would be like saying the New York Jets occasionally like to express themselves to the media in the run-up to an important game. I mean, the guy has been banned from Australia. (If only we had done the same to the Bee Gees before they went disco.)
But if Alice Cooper can coach Little League baseball and soccer in the Phoenix suburbs, who am I to quarrel with Snoop’s philanthropy? While I am sure there are parents who might not find him the ideal role model for their football-playing children, I am just as certain that his heart — and his wallet, for you should see the NFL-style uniforms these kids wear — is in the right place when it comes to his youth football leagues. Like he said, if there had been leagues like this when he was a kid, maybe his life takes a slightly different turn.
And then maybe he’d still be allowed to check out the kangaroos and Australian rules football without fear of reprisal from the authorities.
Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist Ron Kantowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0352.