Robbie Rogers may have retired from professional soccer, but he’s anything but retired.
The two-time MLS Cup champion who came out publicly as gay in 2013 is a producer on the new TV show ‘All American,’ which hits The CW on Wednesday.
All American is based on the true life story of Spencer Paysinger, a football player from South Central Los Angeles who went to Beverly Hills High School to play football. He went on to play at the Univ. of Oregon and won a Super Bowl with the New York Giants in 2011. It’s a fish-out-of-water story that plays both sides, a young man bouncing between two very different worlds.
Rogers was introduced to Paysinger through a mutual friend a while back. He brought the concept of a possible TV show to his husband, wildly successful TV producer Greg Berlanti, and they sold it to The CW.
Almost a year after his retirement from professional sports, Rogers relates very much to the themes of the story he is now bringing to the small screen.
“As a gay man in sports I felt like an outsider most of my career, so I very much related to that,” he told Outsports as he strolled the studio lot on a rare break Tuesday. “And I very much related to sacrificing everything for being the best athlete I could be.”
Rogers has found the day-to-day of TV production very different from sports. Each day on the pitch, whether it’s a practice or a match, has incredible ebbs and flows, with a regular stream of successes and rewards on a daily or hourly basis. He’s been working hard on “All American” for months and will only now, this Wednesday, get to share his hard work with the rest of the world.
“In sports you have this instant gratification of accomplishing something. You’re in training every day, then you’re winning or losing games. But in TV it’s just different.”
No doubt his husband has helped along the way. Rogers said Berlanti is involved actively in the show, particularly in story development and editing. Rogers said he also learned a lot about TV from Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who nearly landed a TV show based on Rogers’ life, called ‘Men In Shorts,’ at ABC.
For Rogers, the importance of All American, and what drives him every day to give the show his all, is how it addresses some of the big issues facing our culture today.
“It uses sports and athletes to have conversation about things that are going around in our world, whether it’s racial identity or economics. The last few years of my career was like that, using it to talk about sexuality and the locker room. I think it’s impossible today to be a minority in sports and not be political.”
The show will also address religion and the LGBTQ community, with one of the show’s characters based on a real-life friend of Paysinger. Rogers is particularly excited about the conversations that character will help continue.
‘All American’ makes its debut on The CW Oct. 10 at 9|8c.