This Comedian Says the NFL Is Plagiarizing Him in Their Keegan-Michael Key Collaboration

Scott Rogowsky throws a flag on a series of sketches from the ‘Key & Peele’ star and the NFL
This Comedian Says the NFL Is Plagiarizing Him in Their Keegan-Michael Key Collaboration

Football fans love to proclaim, “The NFL is scripted!” every time a league-favorite quarterback pulls off an improbable comeback in a big game. Well, comedian Scott Rogowsky went one step further — he says that he’s the guy who wrote the damn script.

Rogowsky is best known as being the charismatic host of the massively popular late 2010s mobile quiz game “HQ,” but terminally online football fans may remember him as one of the dimly lit faces from the sketch series “NFL Writers Room” by the channel “12 Angry Mascots” from 2009-2011. The videos showing a roundtable of script writers plotting out the major events of the most popular athletics league in America were a moderate success, with the most viral eclipsing 200,000 views, a figure that was more impressive in 2009 than in today’s saturated YouTube landscape.

Flash forward to August, 2023, as the NFL rolls out a string of promotional videos to build hype for its upcoming season. Lo and behold, the “NFL Kickoff 2023” series features Keegan-Michael Key as the NFL’s head writer running a table read for the season alongside a panel screenwriters and “actors” (actual NFL players). Rogowsky called “unsportsmanlike conduct.”

“Does it surprise me that a soulless mega corporation with zero creativity or independent thought would choose to blatantly rip off actually-creative people to make their content?” Rogowsky wondered in the rant posted yesterday morning. “No it doesn’t. Does it piss me off? You betcha, because the person they ripped off this time was me!”

Rogowsky theorizes that, after he posted a throwback clip from one of the “12 Angry Mascots” videos on TikTok in February of this year, someone from the NFL marketing department saw the clip and was inspired to start their own viral video series off of the same premise. “My feeling on this is NFL folks saw this video go viral and decided to rip it off themselves,” he says.

However, the idea of the NFL having writers who plan every twist and turn on and off the field is one of the most-memed in-jokes among sports fans — even players are likely to tweet something along the lines of, “The writers went crazy on this one,” whenever one of their peers pulls off an impossible catch or a preposterous trick play during a clutch moment in a prime time game.

“12 Angry Mascots” may have been early to the joke, but saying that the NFL saw Rogowsky’s TikTok (which accumulated just shy of 200,000 views, less than the series' peak 14 years ago) and decided to steal the “NFL is scripted” joke that the rest of the internet has been playing off of for the past decade is a bit of a stretch. It’s an easy joke to make, and enough people have thought of it organically that putting a proverbial patent on the meme feels off-base. It’s kind of like saying that, every time a teenager holds a plastic lightsaber at his crotch and pretends it’s a penis, he's ripping off Spaceballs.

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