The 2017 NFL season is quickly approaching. Here’s a look back on the times pro football players experimented with country music.
From the 1994 Super Bowl’s Rockin’ Country Sunday halftime show to Faith Hill and Carrie Underwood’s theme songs for NBC’s NFL Sunday Night, country singers are no strangers to NFL programming.On the flipside, NFL players with a passion for country music have sometimes used their celebrity to leverage a little studio time. The results of
On the flipside, NFL players with a passion for country music have sometimes used their celebrity to leverage a little studio time. The results of these singing (Dallas) Cowboys and All-Pro (Wichita) linemen are usually as unrelentingly corny as football and country puns. There are exceptions, though, with a couple of NFL stars transitioning to legitimate musical careers after stepping away from the game.
Terry Bradshaw’s Musical Moonlighting
Shreveport, La. country boy turned legendary Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw has popped up on county and gospel albums for over 40 years. His 1976 cover of Hank Williams standard “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” became an unlikely top 20 hit. The album of the same name compensated for a celebrity’s musical limitations with a stellar supporting cast of Nashville studio legends—steel guitarist Pete Drake, keyboardist Pig Robbins, harmonica player Charlie McCoy and the Jordanaires.
More recently, Bradshaw shared his personal faith by collaborating with bluegrass gospel band the Isaacs on their 2016 album Nature’s Symphony in 432 (A Journey From Pain to Praise).
The Forgotten Crossover Event NFL Country
A 1996 promotional tactic brought together country singers and NFL players for an album’s worth of songs. The album’s undeniable charm overshadows clear and present absurdity. Glen Campbell, a talent capable of pulling off a solid duet with Oscar the Grouch, shared the spotlight with champion quarterback and moonlighting country singer Terry Bradshaw. Another highlight finds Doug Supernaw and University of Georgia legend Herschel Walker having a ball with their treatment of prior Ray Benson single “Four Scores and Seven Beers Ago.” Speaking of Benson, Asleep at the Wheel has long pleased crowds with an array of guest stars. Here, they’re joined by longtime New York Giants cornerback Jason Sehorn.
Literal Singing Cowboy, Troy Aikman
Troy Aikman was raised on an Oklahoma ranch before becoming the star quarterback of a true professional sports dynasty. It’s no surprise then that he was a muse of sorts for a couple of country songwriters. Local Dallas musician Doc Swicegood cast Aikman as a vocalist on “Oklahoma Nights,” from the 1993 album Everybody Wants to be a Cowboy. “Vocalist” is used lightly, considering it’s more narrated than sung.
Kyle Turley’s Path from Renegade Lineman to Outlaw Singer
Fair or not, Kyle Turley’s football career with the New Orleans Saints is synonymous with a 2001 on-field incident where he slung a Jets player’s helmet across the field. During his stint with the St. Louis Rams, he had a high-profile fallout with head coach Mike Martz. Turley is as much a maverick as a musician, whether he’s performing his rock-infused brand of “power country” or on stage with metal two-piece Delta Doom.
The former Hank III tour mate has used his musical platform for good, raising awareness and money for the Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund’s fight against concussion-related issues affecting retired players.
Chart-topping Songwriter Mike Reid’s Pro Football Past
Looking at the totality of his two careers, Mike Reid is more of a country singer and songwriter who happened to have a playing career beforehand than a pro athlete who crossed over into popular music.
Following his time as captain of the Penn State Nittany Lions, Reid had a short yet impactful career as a defensive tackle for the Cincinnati Bengals. The former seventh overall draft pick was a Bengal from 1970-’74, earning two Pro Bowl appearances.
After mounting injuries ended his football career, Reid focused on his love of country music. He soon thrived as a songwriter, penning 12 number one singles, namely Ronnie Milsap’s “Stranger in My House.” Reid sang his own chart-topper as well, with 1991’s “Walk on Faith.”