BEHIND THE SCENES of “NFL Films DRAWN: X’s, O’s, and Izzles” starring Snoop Doggy Dogg

Behind the Scenes, Ken Rodgers, NFL Films Drawn, Pittsburgh Steelers

(click the image below to watch “X’s, O’s, and Izzles” starring Snoop Doggy Dogg)

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Before he was the show runner of HBO’s “Hard Knocks”, Ken Rodgers was holding the sync-slate on what would be the first of many NFL Films interview with the one and only Snoop Doggy Dogg.  The most recent episode of NFL Films Drawn grew out of never-before-seen footage from that shoot, his memories of which Ken shares below.

by Ken Rodgers, NFL Films Supervising Producer

The date was March 11, 2003. As a young producer at NFL Films, I had already been lucky enough to meet a dozen star football players, along with some legendary filmmakers and television executives.

But this was different. This was Snoop Dog.

Like most kids my age, I first heard Snoop on 1992’s “Nuthin’ but a G Thang,” the single from Dr. Dre’s seminal album The Chronic. Snoop’s debut solo album, Doggystyle, was released a year later, during my freshman year in college. I can vividly remember “What’s my Name?” blaring from the doorway of every dorm room in Clothier Hall that first semester.

“Bow wow wow yippe yo yippee yay…”

Needless to say, I was a typical 19-year old hip hop fan.

10 years later, I found out that Snoop was actually a pretty typical football fan.

The interview was for an episode of our “Lost Treasures” series produced by Phil Tuckett. This particular episode, titled “Autumn Ritual” was a sequel to the original “Autumn Ritual” production from 1986, a cult classic that examined football’s sociological import through the lens of other human endeavors, including ballet, war, art, and of course, music. (See what happens when football meets ballet here.

We met at a modest suburban house on a cul-de-sac and I remember thinking that we must have been given the wrong address. As it turned out, we weren’t filming at his residence but at a home he kept nearby for recording purposes. More clubhouse than mansion, its bedrooms had been converted into recording studios; its living areas into a place to unwind in between tracks.

I expected Snoop to have plenty to talk about when it came to music’s crossover into football; the songs players listened too, in-stadium music selections, the rhythm of an NFL game being like the rhythm of a hit album, and how the orchestration of 11 players represented a kind of pigskin symphony on each play.

What I didn’t expect, and what was more impressive, was Snoop’s passion for the game of football. Of course, it helped that Tuckett charmed him with a gift of several vintage jerseys upon our arrival, including one from the Los Angles Dons, the first professional team to play in Los Angeles, owned by actor Don Ameche. An avid collector of jerseys, Snoop’s eyes lit up when he saw it.

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The L.A. Dons, a member of the All-American Football Conference, pre-dated the L.A. Rams by a mere two weeks, officially becoming the first professional football team in Los Angeles.

Snoop and Tuckett talked football longer than they did music. Subjects included Snoop’s beloved Steelers, the sideline style of Joe Namath and whether rappers or football players were more successful with women (“During football season, I would have to say football players. But when the season is over with…you have to be a rapper.”)

Through the entire day, there was no hint of spoiled superstar behavior, no outrageous demands, no frustration at a film crew taking up his precious time. In fact, Snoop was so relaxed, he and Tuckett had a catch in the backyard; just a filmmaker and a hip-hop artist united by their love of football and the understanding that music and football have a lot more in common than some might think.

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“NFL Films Drawn” is Produced by Chris Weaver and Paul Camarata ; Animation by Patrick Smith ; Sound Design by Mike Kennedy ; Project Management by Becky Lambert ; Online Editing by Jonas Landau

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