By now, anyone familiar with the world of eSports or my articles will know that players of traditional sports buy eSports team almost on a daily basis.
L.A. Rams offensive guard Rodger Saffold is the co-founder of Rise Nation. However, Saffold is a different story as unlike Rick Fox and Shaquille O’Neal, Saffold still plays full time in the NFL.
When ESPN asked Saffold why he enjoyed video games, he said:
“I love puzzles for your brain. When I was growing up, that’s what I did. I would even say before college; I started playing ‘Call of Duty,’ and then ‘Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’ came out… I just was so overboard on it, I could literally play the game all day long.”
When Saffold entered the NFL, he still kept a close eye on the world of video games.
“When I started figuring out that eSports was growing, and I saw they were all over the internet on Twitch — when I saw that there were these huge events — I was like, ‘OK, I need to get into this.’”
Saffold then decided to start Rise Nation with his friend and business partner Kahreem Horsley. They used their connections in the industry to form their first Call of Duty team and were even able to qualify for the Call of Duty Championship 2014: U.S. Regional Final. Despite valiant efforts by the team, they ended up placing seventh. Despite the loss, the team’s progress in their first tournament gave Saffold hope that he could make it big in eSports.
When asked about the difficulty in keeping an eSports organization running, Saffold had the following to say:
“It’s tough to do the day-to-day operations. Most of your day is pretty much filled up with, you know, football. When it comes down to when I get a chance to speak to the players, when I get a chance to speak with the sponsors, it really shows that I’m dedicated to this and that I’m giving them time.”
Being in the NFL while owning Rise Nation has fellow athletes asking Saffold about his team as well as being very supportive about it. “I always get questions like ‘Hey, how is our team doing?’ [and] like ‘Hey, what’s going on, what’s going down this weekend?’” he said. Saffold also said that he has invited a lot of his teammates to this weekend’s Call of Duty World Championships to see everything that happens at such a competition.
Saffold’s story shows that you can do anything you want, even with a full time job in the NFL. Perhaps his story will encourage more athletes to get involved and lead the mainstream eSports revolution.
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