Finding football players who actually try to make a go of it as musicians is tougher than scoring on the '85 Bears, or not-scoring on the 2011 Panthers. Sure, there's no shortage of “Super Bowl Shuffle” knockoffs, but while anyone who calls those “bad” is kind of a jerk, focusing on players who're just having fun takes away from dudes who can play. This soundtrack -- keyed to crucial moments in every tailgater's day -- features music from those dudes. Some of it is great, some it just gets an A for effort, but it's definitely all better than Deion Sanders' “Must Be The Money,” which really was bad, and you shouldn't feel like a jerk for saying so. All times Central:
8am: Rosey Grier “Beautiful People”
It doesn't matter whether you're spending Sunday laying in bed or defending your International Bear-baiting Federation title in a pit filled with bones, it's always nice to wake up to some smooth soul music. Rosey Grier -- lynchpin of the Rams' “Fearsome Foursome,” bodyguard who helped wrestle Bobby Kennedy's assassin to the ground, somewhat awkward minister to OJ Simpson -- made exactly that. Have a nice morning.
9am: Kyle Turley, “We Ride”
As you drive into the parking lot, the former Saints and Rams All Pro's southern rock anthem fuels the intensity you'll need to transition from “I can't believe I woke up this early on a weekend” to “It's time to get down to business."
9:30am: Brandon Lloyd, “Heavy”
When not providing Tom Brady his first non-munchkin wide-receiver target since Randy Moss, “B. Lloyd” is pushing hip hop, like this tune that appeared on Spike TV's Blue Mountain State, hopefully during a scene involving gratuitous naughtiness. “Y'all playing with it, get up on my level/ You a lightweight, this is heavy metal” is not a bad message to send to friends taking too long to shake off Saturday night. Also, pickup trucks filled with kielbasas and the means to rid those kielbasas of their trichinosis are heavy.
9:45am: Reggie Stephens, A.K.A. Famouz, A.K.A. FMZ, “Wiggle”
The 5yr Giants corner ('99-'03) got his musical break with the Arena League's Nashville Kats, whose minority owner, hip hop mogul Tim McGraw, helped him land the record deal that turned into Ghetto Passport. In a sort of amazing business move, Stephens has also been doing songs for MotoCross teams, but for your parking-lot pleasure, “Wiggle” will make even the fattest sloth in your group start dancing like an idiot -- and isn't spontaneous idiot-dancing the best part of modern tailgating?
10:15am: Steve McLaughlin, “Clif Norrell”
The Arizona All-American kicker never really caught on in the NFL (one year with the Rams, a few more on various practice squads, followed by an AFL career that also included the Nashville Kats), but his indie cred is solid. This tune's an ode to a Cali producer/engineer who's worked with everyone from R.E.M. to the Beastie Boys; “Clif Norell, how do you mix so well?” is the perfect line to hear when you've been mixing awesome game-day cocktails and nobody seems to appreciate your fine work.
11:30am: Mike Reid, “Keep On Walkin'”
Injuries caused the Outland winner to bolt the Bengals after a few Pro Bowl seasons, but he didn't do too bad for himself afterwards, writing or co-writing 12 #1 country hits (including the crossover monster “I Can't Make You Love Me”). “Keep On Walkin'” is ideal for a few hours in, when marauders from other tailgates start trying to casually infiltrate and steal your supplies.
11:50am: Vikings of the North Atlantic, “Burn New Life In Me”
Besides being able to crank out 45 reps with 225lbs, 315lb Giants guard Mitch Petrus can also rock out on guitar and bass, the instrument he wields like the Hammer of Thor in his metal band, VONA. Recharge with this when you realize that, after three hours of tailgating, you actually have a three-hour football game to sit through too.
12:15pm: Terry Bradshaw, “I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry”
From yukking it up with Mel Tillis in The Cannonball Run to yukking it up with McConaughey in Failure to Launch, Terry Bradshaw's made a second career out of having people laugh at him -- but believe it or not, underneath the aw-shucks lies a golden set of pipes. If your friends have tickets but you don't have tickets and you're just gonna watch the game on a TV hooked up to a generator, this 1976 performance should be your sad little theme song.
3:30pm: The Legendary Singing Stars, “Anyhow”
Injuries have plagued Tampa's Da'Quan Bowers since a knee injury caused the Top 10 talent to slide to the 51st pick, but the guy's got a future in music if he wants it: he plays his dad's 64 Fender Strat, “Denise” -- and plays it really well -- in the gospel band Dennis Bowers led for 30 years before passing in 2010. Da'Quan was still at Clemson when this video was shot; the song strikes just the right note for when you emerge from the stadium, and the cars are starting to pull out, and there's trash everywhere, and you have no idea where you parked, and you're thinking, man, this is beautiful.
3:35pm: Craig Terrill, “Stood Up By The Stones”
The former Seattle DT does one hell of a Bruce Springsteen, actually fitting, as E Street sax-man Clarence Clemons was a standout college lineman who'd lined up Browns and Cowboys tryouts before a car crash messed up his shot. Terrill wrote this folk tune after Super Bowl XL, when security denied him his chance to meet his boyhood idols before their halftime performance. If your attempt to get a team-entrance autograph gets stymied, queue this up, and know that at least one player feels your pain.
4pm: Don Meredith, “Turn Out The Lights, The Party's Over”
Don Meredith never claimed to be a musician. He just liked to sing in the Monday Night broadcast booth while Howard Cosell laughed and didn't sing. There's no better way to officially close out one football day and start looking forward to the next one.