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LA Rams Star Rodger Saffold Oversees Mini Multimedia Empire

Words: John Gaudiosi
Michael Thomas / Getty Images 

How LA Rams star Rodger Saffold tackles the NFL, eSports and Hollywood.

Hollywood seems like the perfect fit for Los Angeles Rams left tackle Rodger Saffold. The 33rd overall pick of the St. Louis Rams at the 2010 NFL Draft has established himself on and off the gridiron. In addition to being part of the excitement as the NFL returns to LA after a 20 year absence, Saffold is front and center across a number of businesses.

Although he has plenty of career left in tackling opponents in the NFL, Saffold has already set the stage for his non-playing days. When he’s not on the football field on Sundays, he’ll be featured in the new E! reality series, Hollywood and Football. He also was a trendsetter in eSports, purchasing Call of Duty and Overwatch pro gaming team Rise Nation long before Rick Fox or Shaquille O’Neal jumped into the hottest thing to hit entertainment in years. And Saffold even owns a record company, albeit an indie label.

Saffold took some time after a long day at training camp to explain how he’s able to juggle so many businesses and how he builds on past success to create a strong future.

THE RED BULLETIN: What’s the reception been like so far with moving the Rams back to L.A.?

RODGER SAFFOLD: Man, it’s been. The people have been wanting us back here for a long time. We only left for 20 years, which is probably the shortest move I’ve ever seen. But everybody’s been extremely receptive. They’re extremely excited. We’re excited because everything is so brand new. At first, moving out here was pretty stressful. But now that we’re all settled, it’s a lot of fun.

© GamerHubTV / YouTube

What’s it like for you dealing with the E! reality series, Hollywood and Football?

I just have to keep switching hats man, so I can have my interviews for Hollywood and Football, and then switch up to do my interviews about Rise and eSports, then get ready for camp with football the next day to be able to articulate just how practice has been going and the way I feel about my teammates to all the reporters here at practice. So it’s definitely challenging, but it’s keeping me busy. I also have an independent record label, Spirit of 76, which kind of fell into my lap. So I’ve got a lot of things going on, but of course I keep the main thing first which is football, my teammates, making sure that I do what I can so that my family gets the money that they need.

How do you keep up with all of your different projects?

What I use for all my businesses are great managers. Kahreem Horsley takes care of Rise because he used to be a Call of Duty player. My music manager does a fantastic job with my artists on the day-to-day and that takes a little pressure off of me so I can still do my job as a football player. As far as this E Hollywood and Football thing, my entertainment lawyers are always on the ball. They always make sure contracts and everything that I need is taken care of so I don’t have to worry about it. I just have a great team behind me on all fronts.

That’s what I’m trying to do with Rise because we have a Rise Overwatch manager and he takes care of that because he’s been in the scene for a while and he knows the players. And we’re going to be doing the same thing with CS:GO. Rise is going to expand and we’re going to be internationally recognized. And it’s going to be more known for the quality of its teams instead of just having an NFL player as the owner.

Are you starting to notice more people asking about eSports when you’re wearing your NFL hat?

Yeah, actually I do. A lot of my teammates have family members that watch Twitch and they know who I am. They actually tell them to go out and ask me what’s going on. They become interested and they want to get involved. But what’s so crazy is that now just to buy in for a portion of a team is becoming extremely expensive.

Getting in early has paid off for you then?

Yeah. Exactly. I was in The Sports Business Journal for eSports about two years ago. And now you see Rick Fox, Shaquille O’Neal, A-Rod, and the Miami Dolphins all getting involved. It’s a lot of people putting between $600,000 to a million dollars into these teams. The prizes and sticker prices for these teams are just ridiculous amounts of money. Sponsorships come into play as well as just in-game content with skins and things that you can buy within the game. It’s making these guys a ton of money.

Is it ultimately your goal when you retire from some of these other hats that you wear to focus on Rise?

Oh, absolutely. I would love to do that. I’m just doing this for eSports because I feel like if I can leave the game better than I found it, then I’m helping out everybody and not just myself. But that’s always going to be good juju for me and my squad.

It doesn’t sound like you have much time to play video games these days.

Yeah, it’s been getting harder and harder, but I actually play with my pro teams. That’s a good way of creating relationships with them. I like playing Call of Duty and Overwatch. And I’m about taking care of my players as a whole. The next step is continuing to find sponsors and investors to make things easier because we’re growing at an alarming rate.

How do you hold up against those pros when you hit the sticks?

Against my Call of Duty players I do the best because I’ve been playing Call of Duty for a while. But still I’m so close to double negatives sometimes it’s ridiculous. These guys are just way too good. Their shots are so on point. Maybe if I haven’t played for like a week or something and I want to feel better I’ll go play pubs [public matches] and I’ll just destroy everyone.

Even the developers who make Call of Duty are impressed with how quickly the pro gamers take off.

Yeah. They find new ways. They’re creative thinkers. They can look at a map and treat it as a playground.

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