Did you ever wonder why some movies, or television shows, or even commercials, which feature football scenes look more authentic than others?
Mazio Royster is one of the reasons.
Royster, who starred at running back for the University of Southern California before being selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 1992 draft, owns and operates 3rd and 1 inc, a company that production companies hire to make sure their sports scenes look right, and are accurate, before they go to film.
“What we do is authenticate sports projects,’’ Royster said. “Everything from the action sequence to making sure the uniforms and the equipment is right. For instance if there’s a scene where a team is punting, the punter can’t be wearing number 38, because a punter wouldn’t wear a number like that. We would put a single digit number on him.’’
Royster’s company handles other sports as well, but he takes care of the football scenes.
“Me personally, I’m the football guy,’’ he said. “We outsource some of the other sports.’’
Royster got his first taste of the Hollywood life after his football career ended and he moved back to Los Angeles.
“I went to Jacksonville in the expansion draft in 1995, but spent the year on injured reserve,’’ he said. “Then I sat out the ’96 season. The World League called, but I really didn’t want to go to Europe. I had a tryout with San Francisco, but it didn’t happen.’’
The following year The World League called again. This time Royster accepted, but that didn’t work out so well.
“I went to the Scottish Claymores,’’ he said, “and I suffered four broken ribs. That was it.’’
He went back to USC to finish his degree, which is where the initial stages of 3rd and 1 inc. began to take shape.
“Oliver Stone happened to be on campus and was looking for actors to be in the movie “Any Given Sunday,’’ Royster recalled. “Every young, black actor was there. I showed up and I was the man. I wasn’t an actor and I didn’t have the business name, but I knew football.’’
Royster worked both as an extra and a stunt double in Stone’s feature film and was also quick to point out to the actors and production people how things should be done to give it a real football look.
He got a part in another Al Pacino movie, “Two for the Money’’, again as an extra and stunt double. He also had parts in “Crazy, Beautiful’’, “The Water Boy’’ and “Gridiron Gang’’.
“I was getting hit a lot as a double,’’ Royster said with a laugh. “That’s why I got out of the game, I didn’t want to get hit anymore.’’
So instead of using his body, he started to use his knowledge of the game. The production people loved the fact that he knew what he was talking about and could help their films gain that authentic feel.
“That’s when I started to pursue the entertainment business,’’ he said. “When I played I never really thought beyond football. Here I was 27 years old and I really wasn’t prepared for a post-football life. But I told myself in my next career, I would be ready.’’
Royster’s new career has him working on films, in television, and with athletes on commercials. He also uses his expertise on the popular Madden video game every year.
What 3rd and 1 inc, which got off the ground in 2003, does is script consulting, actor/athletic training, casting, sports choreography, playbook design, wardrobe and accessory selection, equipment rentals, and they even make sure the officials look right.
“Being in front of the camera wasn’t my passion,’’ Royster said. “One thing I always loved was sports commercials and we’re doing a lot of those.’’
One of his recent commercials was with Detroit Lions Pro Bowl defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.
“I got to talking to him and mentioned that I was a teammate of his general manager, Martin Mayhew,’’ Royster said. “All of a sudden I had his attention. He wanted to know what Martin was like as a player. I think being a former player and being able to relate to the players helps.’’
Royster has worked with current NFL players Aaron Rodgers, Mike Vick, Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Johnson as well as former players, Keyshawn Johnson and Ladanian Tomlinson. He’s currently working with Nike on their Five-Star General commercials, which include Rodgers, Drew Brees, Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck.
“As I got older and wiser, I understood what I brought,’’ Royster said. “If I’m a production company I would want someone like me.’’