Skip to main content

One of music’s biggest movements was Death Row Records. Headed up by Marion “Suge” Knight, the label and crew featured some of the biggest acts, including Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur. But before Knight’s segway into the music industry, Knight was in the NFL for a brief moment. He chose to leave the league on his own terms.

Suge Knight snap shop outside of party; Knight briefly played in the NFL before quitting
Suge Knight | Steve Grayson/WireImage

Snoop Dogg Once Almost Released a Diss Record About Suge Knight and Death Row

After being drafted, Suge Knight quit the NFL because he was upset over his rank on the team

Knight’s dad put him in football when he was a child. The future record label executive was a standout. He continued to play throughout high school and nearly every major college football scout was interested in having him play on their team. His coach told him to decide against the University of Southern California, which was close to his hometown of Compton because he felt the surroundings would distract Knight. In 1986, he was recruited to play for the University of Las Vegas, which was a top-ranked NCAA Division 1 college team. 

Just a year later, he signed a contract with the Los Angeles Rams (now in Las Vegas). Despite feeling that he was great in college, his skills didn’t necessarily transfer to the professional level, at least his coach didn’t think so. He was immediately benched. As a result, he decided to quit, even against the advice of his family.

“Hell no [it wasn’t what I thought it would be],” Knight explained in the Showtime documentary American Dream/American Knightmare. “The NFL is the worst muthaf—–g place you could be. Because the NFL is like a plantation for slaves. They treat you like a kid because when you’re big, it represents dumb, no matter that. And then the darker you are, the more stupid they think you are.”

He became a bodyguard to the stars and even once reportedly saved Bobby Brown’s life

Knight returned to Las Vegas after his brief stint with the NFL. He quickly emerged himself into the nightlife. Knight enjoyed clubbing, bottle service, live entertainment as far as concerts and sporting events, and upscale parties. Being of larger stature, he was often times viewed as security or a bodyguard. Knight eventually became a bodyguard to stars, including the likes of Bobby Brown.

Knight, a known gang member, had no problem using intimidation tactics. In fact at one point, a former associate of Knight’s claims he saved Brown’s life.

“Apparently, Bobby did not keep up with his bill and the drug dealer he purchased it from was ready to take the situation to the streets by placing a bounty on Bobby’s head,” Reggie Wright Jr. told Vlad TV. “Some dudes from L.A. … But Bobby was on that- snorting that stuff- and he owed some drug money, some street money to somebody, and Suge went and talked to the dudes and it (the ordered hit on Bobby) went away.”

Suge Knight soon began his work in the music industry

Knights time around music industry people rubbed off on him. He learned from artists that many of them weren’t making real money and were practically being robbed with bad contracts. Knight wanted in on the action and began his own publishing company. From there, he branched out and started his record label.