TAMPA — Snoop Dogg and Deion Sanders were cracking jokes. Arizona Cardinal Edgerrin James and Pittsburgh Steeler James Farrior were posing for pictures with fans. Boxing champ Winky Wright was in the house at Gaither High School.
Rumor has it, they even played a football game amid all the action.
Okay, turns out there was definitely a football game, Snoop Bowl VII, where Snoop Dogg's All-Stars beat Mike Alstott's All-Stars 22-6.
Snoop's team beat Matt Leinart's All-Stars last year 34-14 and is now perfect in Snoop Bowls.
It was a mismatch from the start, but what chance did a team of 11-year-olds with regular old names like Ryan Davis on their jersey have against 11-year-olds with names like Crunch 'n' Munch, Scrappy, Sweet Feet, J Peezy and The Batter Ram?
Not much of one, as it turned out.
Still, it was a great treat for the local kids, who have only been playing together for a few weeks.
Raymond McLeod had a nice pass break-up. Lamar Gilbert was a beast in the backfield. Tajee Fullwood returned a kick for Tampa Bay's only points. And Davis impressed Snoop Dogg, who remarked in the first half that "No. 5's the killer."
Gilbert, Fullwood and Davis were all named game MVPs by Snoop. The prize? Snoop Dogg action figures.
Man, I wish I was making that up. I'm not.
Speaking of Snoop's team, those were some biiiiiig 11-year-olds he fielded. I'm sure all the ages were very carefully checked (cough) and verified with the proper authorities before the game (cough).
Even Sanders was amazed.
"He looks like he drove here," he said to Snoop, pointing at No. 21.
The Doggfather just laughed.
"Yeah, I'm getting a ride with him to the after party."
Snoop actually seems like a cool dude. He didn't care much for the media, but he was darned friendly to the kids and mugged it up with them afterward.
He also gave a postgame speech. Something about "One Love" and respecting your elders.
That and the fact this was all for a good cause was almost enough to make you forget all the taunting and boasting and self-aggrandizing that went on during the game.
I think next Super Bowl, all NFL players should have to wear their jerseys in public, because if one more person comes up to me and asks if I know who that big guy with the nice sunglasses and expensive looking clothes is, I'm going to scream.
And it would help me, too.
One autograph most people missed on was Chris Davis, who is not a big guy. The former St. Petersburg Catholic and Florida State star is with Tennessee, but even attired in Titans sweats he roamed about unbothered.
"Which is fine by me," he said.
Pet peeve: athletes who use the fact that they played to become media personalities, but then when actually asked to do interviews or pose for pictures always decline.
You know who you are.
Line of the day from Snoop, after the Tampa Bay Gators got a delay of game penalty: "They got 50 coaches over there, they gotta have one play."
It wasn't entirely true — I counted only 49 coaches, actually — but still funny.
John C. Cotey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.