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Pro Football

Pint-Sized Players Give Their All In Snoop Bowl VII

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Published:   |   Updated: March 23, 2013 at 04:49 PM
TAMPA -

Read this story aloud, with your best NFL Films "on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field" voice:

For the seventh time, the glitzy, glamorous team from the City of Angels has crossed this nation's vastness in search of football foes in far-flung cities. The squad has visited the hostile venues of Arizona, Atlanta, Miami and New Orleans.

Now, the team has come to Tampa to take on the ragged and hungry horde, gathered together under the banner of a local hero to defend this sandy turf from the visiting plunderers.

This is where Mike Alstott, the former Tampa Bay Buccaneer and unblemished local icon, is sharpening his sword and making his stand.

He's assembled and trained this rag-tag group of gridiron grapplers in Florida Gator colors, hoping to unseat the imperious reign of the team, dressed out in University of Southern California colors, put together by fancy-pants Los Angeles rapper Snoop Dogg, known among his legions as "Snoop Da Great."

Alstott roamed the sidelines, shouting encouragement to his players during play on Saturday afternoon. During the first half, he consoled a boy who had just fumbled the ball and yelled for his quarterback, Ryan Davis, to "throw the ball" before the youth was sacked on third down. His team was beset by mental mistakes, twice having been flagged for delay of game.

Across the way, Snoop, with his trademark dreadlocks and knit hat, coached away. To the side, in typical California fashion, were the celebrities. NFL legend Deion Sanders chatted with Arizona Cardinals running back Edgerrin James, who himself will play in another game on Sunday.

The Snoop Bowl VII showdown pitted the pint-size warriors against each other on a balmy, sunny afternoon Saturday in the raucous confines of Gaither High's Cowboy Stadium. More than 3,000 filled the stands and stood around the field, witnessing future stars, perhaps.

The local team was hand-picked from 350 youths between 10 and 11 who showed up and tried out earlier this month. The fastest, toughest and meanest claimed the 30 slots on the team.

They were ready to hand the California team its first defeat in seven games. Last year, Snoop's team blew out an Arizona team coached by Matt Leinart by a 33-14 score.

In the end, the fervor of battling the juggernaut faded and the locals fell by a score of 22-6. Fans paid between $20 and $50 to get in, with proceeds to be donated to charities such as the Children's Cancer Center, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay and the Mike Alstott Family Foundation. More than $50,000 has been raised for charity over the years.

Eric Carter coaches youth football in Lakeland. He cheered along the sidelines and gave frequent score updates over his cell phone.

His son, Samuel Jackson, was out there, he said. "He's the only one from Lakeland."

Asked if he could offer Alstott any coaching tips, Carter shook his head.

"He's got a lot more experience than me," he said.

Ventell Bryant had his own cheering section too. His mom, Millie, and aunt, Carla, were riveted to each play.

Millie was diplomatic.

"Both teams are pretty good," she said just before halftime, with the West Coasters leading 8-0.
What would they say to Snoop, if they could get close enough?

"You," Carla said, "are Gator bait."


Reporter Keith Morelli can be reached at (813) 259-7760.

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