Likewise, 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 handful of NFL stars transitioning to legitimate musical careers after stepping away from the game.
Terry Bradshaw's Musical Moonlighting
Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw has popped up on county and gospel albums ever since 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
This 1996 promotional tactic brought together country singers and NFL players for an album's worth of songs. For instance, Glen Campbell, a talent capable of pulling off a solid duet with Oscar the Grouch, shared the spotlight with Bradshaw. Another highlight finds Doug Supernaw (the father of former Titans player Phillip 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 a star quarterback, making him the quintessential Southwestern man's man back when the Cowboys were racking up Super Bowl rings. It's no surprise then that local Dallas musician Doc Swicegood cast Aikman as a guest narrator on "Oklahoma Nights," from the 1993 album Everybody Wants to be a Cowboy.
On a slightly related note, one of Aikman's predecessors as the Cowboys signal caller, Danny White, cut an entire album, Country Cowboy, in 1983.
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. Since then, the former Hank III tour mate has used his platform as a former NFL star for good, raising awareness and money for the Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund's fight against concussion-related issues affecting retired players.
He's also been quite the renegade as a musician since leaving the league, whether he's performing his rock-infused brand of "power country" or taking the stage with metal two-piece Delta Doom.
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."
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This story originally ran on Aug. 17, 2017.