There’s a game being played out on the streets of Los Angeles that mirrors the one taking place this Wednesday night at Suncorp Stadium. The story is the same: two tribes – one red and one blue – with an inherent, senseless hatred for each other based on street credibility and geographical borders.
But while Penrith teammates and Origin adversaries Luke Lewis and Petro Civoniceva will shake hands and “hug it out” when the siren sounds this Wednesday night, don’t expect the members of LA’s two major gangs, the ‘Crips’ and ‘Bloods’, to display the same level of sportsmanship. On the mean streets of LA, a handshake comes wrapped around a nine millimeter glock; a hug for the mother of the recently deceased, if she’s lucky.
However, an improbable saviour is emerging. One of the LBC’s most notorious sons is out to set things straight on the streets of L.A. – through the power of State of Origin football.
Iconic rapper and closet league fan, Snoop ‘Doggy’ Dogg, has launched an audacious bid to return State of Origin football to its rightful home: Long Beach California. Mr Dogg, whose birth certificate reads Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr, is said to be in the middle of high-level negotiations with ARL representatives to bring a fourth game in the 2011 series to the LBC later this year.
It has been a long time between sips of [top shelf brand name tequila] Patrón for Long Beach residents. Some 12,000 Californians turned out at the LBC’s Veterans’ Memorial Stadium in 1987 to see NSW claw back some respectability after a 2-1 series loss. While Australian officials saw the exhibition match as a failure, Broadus told ThePublicApology that “brothers had been cryin’ out” for more live representative action ever since.
“I was just a young muthafucka living on the West-side, getting up to all sorts of gangster shit, causin’ ruckuses on the daily” Broadus drawled, stretching out the vowel in the word ‘shit’. “Then I hear that they is (sic) takin’ this Origin shit to Cali – so I went along with my crew to see what all these bitches be talking about.”
Drawing languidly upon a generously packed spliff, Broadus recalls the match with genuine affection.
“Man, the Blues had Ettinghausen, Sterling and ‘Crusher’ Cleal – these homies tore that Queensland ass up. But I has (sic) to say, that [then coach of Queensland, Wayne] Bennett is one legit mo’fo. He don’t give a shit what the haters say, even though Queensland got fucked up balls deep, yo.”
“Funnily enough, that boss playa [Bennett] was actually the inspiration behind my track Fresh Pair of Panties On.”
But the 39-year-old’s love for the game extends beyond an aesthetic appreciation and deep respect for the physical courage that “those muthafuckas be frontin’.” Speaking candidly with ThePublicApology via Skype, Broadus says the game has the potential to once and for all heal LA’s decades-old gang rivalry. A former Crip member himself, Broadus recalls the first time he broached members from each gang to cast their weapons aside and instead settle their differences “on the field”.
“I walked into Compton with a [football brand] Steeden under my arm and threw it to one of ma’ gangsters. Initially, he was like ‘yo ma’ nizzle, what the fuck is this shit?” But before long I was teachin’ all ma’ Crips how to play the ball, kick for touch, grapple tackle, conduct second phase play off a mid-field scrum – all that shit. And they loved it!”
Rugby league on the streets of Los Angeles might seem a bizarre concept, but in 1987 it was a reality. Statistics show that gun violence dropped 56% in the greater LA area during Broadus’ grassroots rugby league initiative. Riding a (legal) high, the rapper petitioned the Long Beach council to organise a Crips v Bloods Origin match. Despite the support of both gangs, the game never materalised due to a general lack of rugby league infrastructure.
Alas, the détente was over. Gangsters who had dropped their weapons in favour of a football bent back down to dust them off again. Like the red tributaries that adorned Benny Elias’ Origin-hardened face in the early 1990s, a torrent of blood once again washed over the streets of South Central Los Angeles. Fast track 24 years and the sport is once again poised to hit the American market – only difference is that this time Broadus thinks California is ready for it.
“Bring it on – Cali is gaggin’ for Origin like bitches be gaggin’ for the Doggfather,” he grins, flashing a row of gold-plated ‘grills’.
And for those who think Snoop ‘Doggy’ Dogg may seem an unlikely Origin ambassador; that he is more suited to advocating Proposition 19 (the recent failed amendment to legalise marijuana in California) than lobbying Australian rugby league boards – just take a look at his back catalogue. A quick scan of his discography reveals that Snoop has genuine “rugby league chops.” And while he may rap about “bling”, “dollar bills” and expensive liquor, Broadus – who lives in a surprisingly modest two bedroom in Long Beach – shares many of the working class ideals that rugby league was founded upon. A diehard South Sydney fan, his 1998 album, ‘The Game Is To Be Sold, Not To Be Told’, was a no-holds-barred attack on the mid-90s Super League war that almost destroyed the delicate fabric of the game.
“That Super League shit really fucked up rugby league, fo’ real. I wanted to make that [former Super League CEO] John Ribot cadaverous; if I ever met him, I swear I’d turn that muthafucka’s body ice cold. They even tried to make some legit Origin shit, but that Tri-series in 1997 was a joke, even that muthafuckin Noel Goldthorpe was playing!”
But despite his best intentions, bringing Origin to the ‘213’ may prove more difficult than Broadus had originally hoped. The Gin and Juice artist told ThePublicApology that he’d been petitioning the ARL for years to bring Origin football “back home”, but had little luck getting officials to take him seriously. Broadus has had a checkered relationship with Australia ever since he was denied entry by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship in 2007, based on his numerous drug and weapons offences. It was only after he agreed to do some grassroots work with at-risk youth as a form of charity work that he was allowed to tour down under in 2008. He says the future of rugby league must “not be held hostage”.
“That was some muthafuckin bullshit right there, bitches be trippin’. If I was some clean-ass rapper like Will Smith I’d have got Origin back to the LBC no sweat, but because I’m SN double-O P D O double-G, they ain’t taking me serious.”
“Kid, I rap about real-life shit issues – politics, East-West rivalry, rugby league – not about fuckin’ South Beach and bitches ‘getting’ jiggy’ with bullshit.”
Broadus had some choice words for NRL boss David Gallop, who has so far refused to come to the table for a U.S. Origin exhibition match.
“That [NRL CEO David] Gallop gangsta, he needs to stop trippin, quit bitchin and just sign the damn papers, otherwise I’m gon’ put a muthafuckin’ nine millimeter up his ass and send some flowers to his momma, fo’ shizzle ma nizzle.”
He may be better known for indulging in bitches, bling, buds and bills, but you just know Snoop Dogg won’t rest until Los Angeles gets its own taste of Origin.
By Dave Edwards