The Sunday Football-Related Music Post: Messages in Music


via USA Today Sports

We’re getting tantalizingly close to the end of the seemingly endless off-season, so in the next two weeks I’ll be wrapping some musical things up.

This is as opposed to “rapping” things up, such as throwing out one’s suggested contract amount via a mixtape, as Le’Veon Bell seems to have recently done.

Plenty of words have been written about Bell’s “15” (as in million per year, one assumes,) but few of them were funnier than the words written by Post-Gazette sportswriter Gene Collier. Here are a few of them:

Cultural musicologists have long suspected that in the future, all NFL contracts will be negotiated through rap lyrics, but few understood the frightening speed at which the future was approaching…

Le’Veon Bell, a Steelers hyper-talented running back, dependable pass-catching option with the expunged record of questionable judgment as LeGarrette Blount’s star-crossed Uber driver, last weekend became the first baller in history to commence contract negotiations in a rap song, and perhaps any song.

Should you wish to hear the song in question, clicking on the link above will take you to the original PG article, which has an embedded sound file. If you just want the Cliff Notes version, keep reading:

“I’m at the top, and if not, I’m the closest,” goes the lyric. “I’m a need 15 a year and they know this.”

The Steelers, as it happens, did not know this, but as one front-office source speaking on condition of anonymity for reasons too obvious to even state told me, “I guess we do now.”

After Collier writes some purported rap-infested dialogue between the Rooneys and Bell during the coming months, he ends this way:

Perhaps somewhere in long-buried details of their early NFL years, there’s a story about Whizzer White, their first pick in the 1938 draft, communicating with Arthur J. Rooney himself in the musical style of the day.

“A tisket, a tasket, need cash for my yellow basket.”

Coincidentally, White wanted 15 as well.

Fifteen thousand.

The Chief, leveraged by the knowledge that White would soon become a Rhodes Scholar (and eventually a Supreme Court justice), managed to get him for exactly that, $15K.

In the following video, music is a way to deliver quite a different message. Ben Utecht, a tight end with the Colts from 2004-07, and with the Bengals for 2008 and part of 2009, suffered at least five concussions during his career. The final one, which took place on camera during the filming of “Hard Knocks” in Bengals’ training camp, eventually knocked him out of the game. The Bengals waived him with an injury settlement.

Utecht, who had always planned a music career after he left the NFL, has made four albums. But he is perhaps best known for the music video below. He made it after he started suffering significant memory loss in 2011, at age 30. Perhaps he is being overly pessimistic, but he fears he may not know his family one day because of his brain injuries.

So is this a valid concern? Without a lot more research, it’s difficult to say. But a paper published by the National Institutes of Health in, coincidentally, 2011, says this:

Brain trauma has long been thought to play a role in initiating or accelerating the molecular cascade involved in several degenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Parkinson’s disease (PD), and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Additionally, repetitive concussive and subconcussive brain trauma has been implicated as the primary risk factor for developing the progressive neurodegenerative disease Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), as well as the motor neuron disease variant Chronic Traumatic Encephalomyelopathy (CTE-M).

None of those are pleasant prospects. You can’t blame Utecht for being concerned. Here’s the video:

Travis Feeney, Steelers rookie, published the following tweet in May:

It seems as if this is what Ben Utecht is doing. He has a lovely voice, and I wish him all the best in his music career and his future life. As we watch this game we love, I hope we don’t forget the cost to the players.

James Harrison was quoted as saying something to the effect that they know what they are signing up for, and he does this so his kids can have a better life.

Actually, though, he didn’t know what he was signing up for back in 2002, although he presumably does now. Nor did Utecht, or any of the players until the last few years. Would this have altered the face of the league had guys realized ten years ago what even the NFL has finally admitted about head injuries? How is it going to make us view the guys drafted this season? I certainly don’t have any, but Ivan and I will be exploring this issue in much greater depth in the coming months.


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