The way Chris Legree remembers it, Sean "Diddy" Combs's people called him almost every day for a week in the fall of 2002. The Mo Better Jaguars -- the Pop Warner program Legree founded and the subject of this week's cover story had an upcoming match-up against the Mount Vernon Razor Backs. Combs's son was on the 12-to-15-year-old Midget team and he planned to come down to Brownsville's Betsy Head Park to watch the game.
But there was the matter of logistics and security, of course, so the hip-hop mogul's team had many questions for Legree. Eventually he passed them the phone number to his sister, an NYPD officer whom he assigned to handle security for the big game.
Although Mo Better had only been around for six years, the program had developed a fierce rivalry with Mount Vernon. Mount Vernon was a Pop Warner powerhouse and the programs had had a string of cold, competitive regional playoff battles.
So there was already a buzz at the park when the black SUV pulled up five or ten minutes before kick-off. It didn't draw much attention.
"It's a big game, everybody anticipating," Legree recalls. "Everybody's looking at them field."More »