Whether Snoop Dogg or Snoop Lion or Snoopzilla, to the kids he’s simply Coach Snoop. In 2005, the Hip Hop luminary started the Snoop Youth Football League as a means to help teach leadership and achievement to at risk pre-teens. Nine years later, Snoop D-O-Double-G beams like a proud father when reflecting on his creation.
“My heart hurts sometimes [because] I get so much love and respect from these kids in this world and I got to deal with that world,” he tells HipHopDX in this exclusive interview during last weekend’s FYFL Snooperbowl practice at Los Angeles’ Crenshaw High School, one day before his youth league all-stars went head-to-head against Flo Rida’s Florida Youth Football League all-stars. “It makes me want to stop doing that and dedicate more time to football.”
While the sport has arguably replaced baseball as “America’s Game,” recent reports of life crippling head injuries plaguing NFL players has sent shockwaves through football programs at every level. In November 2013, ESPN’s Outside The Lines reported that the nation’s most storied youth football league, Pop Warner, has seen a 9.5 percent decrease in participation since 2010—presumed to be the largest two-year decline in the program’s 85-year history. That statistic falls in line with other national youth leagues such as USA Football, which recently reported a 6.7 percent decline since 2011. Out of fear of injury, it appears more parents are keeping their kids off the gridiron.
But Snoop says the unfortunate trend has yet to affect the SYFL. “In my league, we’ve had less injuries over the last two years because of what we’re teaching,” he explains. “I feel like if we go down to the levels and the NFL comes to the hoods and teaches us what they want us to do, by the time they get to the NFL, they’ve been practicing this their whole life.”
Snoop Dogg Reflects On First SYFL Player To Be An NFL Draft Pick
HipHopDX: Congratulations on your ninth year of the Snoop Youth Football league. What comes when you think about the past almost decade?
Snoop Dogg: I think about all the babies that I coached that I was able to be a part of their lives. When I see them now—the ones that I coached 10 years ago who are 18, 19, 20 years old now—and I run into them and they’re like, “What’s up, Coach Snoop?” For them to still call me Coach, it’s heart wrenching because it hurts my heart sometimes that I get so much love and respect from these kids in this world and I got to deal with that world. It makes me want to stop doing that and dedicate more time to football. That’s why I became a football coach and created my football league—because I got so much joy out of being these kids coaches.
DX: What was your initial feeling when [SYFL alum] Ronnie Hillman was drafted by the Denver Broncos in 2012?
Snoop Dogg: That was a dream come true. That’s what I put this league together for, to help kids get to the next level; to think that they could go to the NFL; to know that they could receive their dreams. And when he went, it just shows that it could be done with hard work, dedication, and passion and doing the right things and not being associated with the negative. You may come up in a negative environment but you don’t have to take that environment with you through your journey in life.
DX: In your view, what’s the difference between Florida football and California football?
Snoop Dogg: One thing about football that’s the truth: Florida has always been #1. Texas is right behind them. California, we’re right behind them. So in my mind, I’ve always said that I’m never cool with being #2 or #3. The only way to be the best is to beat the best. Knock them off. Tip the hat. Send them back home with their head down and we’ll move on up the ladder. Even if we don’t win, these kids will be able to compete with the best and know how far they’ve got to go to be the best.
Snoop Dogg Challenges The NFL’s Concussion Prevention Approach
DX: ESPN’s Outside The Lines reported in November that the nation’s largest youth football program, Pop Warner, has seen a 9.5 percent drop in participation between 2010 and 2012 as a result of concussion reports in the NFL. Has your league seen a decline and how have you [approached head injury prevention]?
Snoop Dogg: I don’t think kids quit because of the concussions. You’ve got kids in the hood that don’t have nothing going. A concussion ain’t nothing. We’re trying to get out the ghetto. It’s like playing on the streets: If I fall and hit my head, I’m right back up tomorrow. That concussion law should go with teaching. If they could fundamentally teach kids how to tackle, there would be less concussions because people just running into each other [happens] because they haven’t been taught the right way how to tackle. If you teach it the right way, the injuries will go down.
In my league, we’ve had less injuries over the last two years because of what we’re teaching and fundamentally flagging them if they go helmet to helmet. They understand that. We compliment the NFL. We work with the NFL. I understand what they’re trying to do, but at the same time, the NFL needs to come to the hood and see that that concussion rule ain’t affecting us. We get at it because this is all we got.
DX: I think a lot of the decrease [in participation] comes from the parents.
Snoop Dogg: It’s coming from the parents. Listen to what I tell, it’s from the White communities. There are no Black parents saying, “My baby ain’t playing.” They’re saying, “You gonna get out there regardless. You gonna make it.” It’s coming from the White families because they’re more concerned with the injuries. We ain’t caring about the injuries. It’s like a scratch on the arm. It’s a part of football. The mommas will tell you, “Get your ass back up and get out there and play.” The mommas are hard because this is where we come from.
But I do respect it. And I feel like if we were teaching the right way it would be less of an issue. But since it’s not being taught, it’s more of an issue because when it happens, it’s too late to teach it. You have to teach it before. It’s about preparation and preparing for the worst. You don’t let it happen and then try to prepare for it. I feel like if we go down to the levels and the NFL comes to the hoods and teaches us what they want us to do, by the time they get to the NFL, they’ve been practicing this their whole life. So when they get there, they know the proper training. A lot of these kids haven’t been coached. They’re just raw.
Snoop Dogg Details Meeting The Obamas & The White House Butler
DX: Congratulations on Grammy nomination for Reincarnated. During the album’s initial press run, one of the things you said was that you wanted to do a Reggae album because if you were invited to the White House, you wouldn’t have had any songs that you could [perform]. The album was released, it was well received and now you’ve recently returned from a visit to the White House. Is that mission accomplished?
Snoop Dogg: Damn sure is. And I took my wife and my daughter with me. And they were in the movie with me. My daughter [Cori B] was on that song “No Guns Allowed.” That’s how I god works. He puts you in the right place for the right reasons. What was so crazy was that, when they asked me to come to the White House, I was like, “Man, I ain’t fuckin’ with this. I ain’t doin’ that shit.” You know, just being the nigga that I am. My nigga was like, “Nigga, that’s the White House!” I was like, “It is, huh. Shit, I might as well go. Shit. They ain’t got no other real niggas up in there.” [Laughs]
Normally in the White House they let you bring one guest. They let me bring three guests. When I got up in there, the butler requested to see me. They said, “The butler would like to see you.” I said, “Well, where is the nigga?” They said, “He’s in the kitchen. But your wife has to stay.” I said, “Hold on, baby. I’ll be right back. I’m fixin’ to go meet the butler.” You know what the butler told me? He said, “I met the President. Now I just met the President of Cool. Nice to meet you, Snoop Dogg.” I went right back out there and had me a shot of something to drink because I was on then.
But I was in the White House, man. From where I come from, we don’t even dream like that. When they opened the door to let me in, I really couldn’t believe it. I let my wife and them walk in first because I thought they were gonna arrest me. And then they let me meet the Obamas. And they knew who I was. Yeah. Did you get that? They knew who I was. And I was spooned and groomed, suited and booted. The President said, “You cleaned up.” I said, “I’m sharp as a mosquitos needle.” He straight laughed, and he took a picture with me. I’m like, ‘I’ll holler at you. I got a party to attend with some civilized people soon to be my friends.”
DX: Musically, what’s next for Snoop Dogg in 2014?
Snoop Dogg: Making people feel good. That’s what music is, man. I’m able to do it so I have fun with it. There shouldn’t be no ramifications on what you can and can’t do. I like Rock music, Reggae music, Soul, R&B music. My dream is to make an R&B album and just be singing love songs and take my shirt off like Trey Songz and R. Kelly and all them. That’s my dream. So I might get one of those off sooner or later.