DIAMOND BAR, Calif. – Snoop Dogg's (search) new youth football league is drawing corporate endorsements, talented coaches — and catcalls from long-established teams that are losing players to the entertainer's latest project.
Two years ago, Snoop began coaching his son's team in the Orange County Junior All-American Football Conference, luring children from other squads with his star power. Players watched game video inside a tricked-out school bus equipped with DVD players, TV screens and a booming sound system.
The rapper and sometime actor also made personal phone calls to draw in top talent, and last year his Rowland Raiders went undefeated en route to a league championship. They also went on to win the "Snooperbowl," held a day before the Super Bowl, and took home custom-made trophies donated by Tiffany & Co. for their effort.
Snoop, whose real name is Calvin Broadus, is taking things to the next level this year, creating his own Southern California league. He lowered fees for joining a team from $175 or more to $100, which covers the cost of cleats and pads. He also loosened residency requirements.
A movie documenting the effort, and titled "Coach Snoop," is reported to be in the works.
"It's so easy for a kid to join a gang, to do drugs," Snoop said. "We should make it that easy to be involved in football and academics."
Children and some coaches have flocked to the eight-chapter Snoop Youth Football League, leaving supporters of old leagues dejected and wondering whether they were used.
"I'm mad at Coach Snoop," said 10-year-old Xavier Bernal, a player for the Rowland Raiders. "He was so cool; he told me to play my heart out and to play everything I've got. But now I just want to ask him, why did he take all our players?"
The Raiders last year fielded nine squads of players ages 5 to 14. This year, the teams have dwindled to three squads and the cheerleading team has shrunk from 80 girls to nine. A Snoop chapter in Compton — the Vikings — has similarly trumped the long-established Compton Titans, which dipped from 12 teams to five this year. Even the team Snoop played for as a youngster, the Long Beach Poly Junior Jackrabbits, is struggling.
"This has affected us in a terrible way," said Sarah L. Morrison, the chapter president. "I don't know if our program will exist after this season."
Sponsors of Snoop's new league include a new cell phone company called Amp'd Mobile. A former youth football teammate of the rapper, pro linebacker Willie McGinest, has donated money and helped coach in Snoop's Long Beach chapter. He's sanguine about the inter-league controversy.
"This is a chance for us to save our community and to get our kids back," McGinest said.