It's not often that an NFL player drops a new single to spout off about contract negotiations. Then again, not everyone can spit rhymes like Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell.
"I'm at the top and if not I'm the closest, I'ma need 15 a year, and they know this," Bell raps on his recently debuted track, "Focus."
That's not the only topic Bell covers in the song, either. He also details how last year's suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy and the knee injury that ended his season aren't negatively impacting his preparation for this year.
Bell's certainly not the only player in the league with musical talent and aspirations, but his new release prompted us to explore some of the best and worst musical offerings from NFL players throughout the years. It's far from a complete list -- sorry, Terry Bradshaw, but we left out your cover of "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry." And Ravens kicker Justin Tucker, who is a bona fide opera singer, has a voice too heavenly for us mortals to even include in these rankings.
Instead, we wanted to highlight what songs most entertained us, either sincerely or ironically. Or sometimes both, which is why the top three spots on our list are all 1980s rap songs. They fill us with nostalgia for a simpler time -- a time when NFL teams felt compelled to record rap songs and make videos for them.
863. Troy Aikman, "Oklahoma Nights"
Back in 1993, Troy Aikman joined up with some of his Cowboys teammates to form a group called the Super Boys, and they made a country album entitled Everybody Wants to Be a Cowboy, featuring this song, "Oklahoma Nights."
They shouldn't have. They really, really, REALLY shouldn't have.
We're not really ranking 863 songs on this countdown, but this one comes in at No. 863 because we can say with certainty that this is the worst song ever recorded by an NFL player. Aikman was a good quarterback, but it's impossible to apply that same adjective to his singing voice. That's why we're going to subject you to only a brief snippet:
At the time, Aikman was dating country superstar Lorrie Morgan, which likely influenced his decision to participate in this ill-advised endeavor.
The lyrics are trite and generic. "This old pickup truck and me/In your memory" is like a country version of Mad Libs. "Little league, bubblegum/Ponytails and horses on the run" isn't just nonsense -- it doesn't even rhyme!
This song has no redeeming qualities. We're sorry we made you listen to any part of it. Please forgive us.
9. Cam Newton, Justin Bieber's "Baby"
How are we supposed to explain Cam Newton singing Justin Bieber songs to our children?
Newton is often the target of criticism and ire for doing harmless things like giving footballs to small children and having fun and being good at his job. Criticizing Newton for this impromptu performance of Justin Bieber's "Baby," however -- that's a little justified.
The nicest feedback we can give Newton is that he was certainly enthusiastic, and his freestyle at the end isn't the worst thing we've ever heard. His confidence does make the performance more enjoyable, and Newton's not ever shy about singing. At least his more recent performance of Usher's "Nice and Slow" during a radio appearance showed that the MVP quarterback can, in fact, get better.
8. Joe Staley and Vernon Davis, Adele's "Someone Like You"
Hopefully someday we will feel as passionately about something as former 49ers teammates Vernon Davis and Joe Staley apparently feel about singing Adele's "Someone Like You."
This one comes in at No. 7 on our countdown not because of a lack of talent or effort from these two players, but mainly because Staley forgets the words and then seems to become overwhelmed by Davis' enthusiasm, slowly backing out of the frame as Davis continues to belt out the song.
7. Sean Weatherspoon, Kings of Leon's "Use Somebody"
Atlanta Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon grew up singing in his church's choir, and his experience was evident in this karaoke performance of Kings of Leon's "Use Somebody."
Weatherspoon gets bonus points for keeping his sunglasses on the whole time, which is very rock and roll, and because his performance also raised money for Huddle Up for Miracles, an initiative supporting Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.
6. Deion Sanders and M.C. Hammer, "Straight to My Feet"
You may or may not be aware that Hall of Famer Deion Sanders released a rap album in 1994 at the height of his NFL career. The album was called Prime Time -- no big surprise there -- and it featured hits with really unique and creative names, such as "Time for Prime" and "Prime Time Keeps on Tickin'" and "Time for Prime (Reprise)."
We're not going to focus on Sanders' solo rap career for this countdown, however. Let's talk about this collaboration with the rap game's one and only M.C. Hammer instead.
The video for "Straight to my Feet" is absolutely ridiculous, in no small part because the song was on the Street Fighter soundtrack. Pole dancers? Check. Sumo wrestlers? Check. A dancing (!) Jean-Claude Van Damme? Check plus!
A bright spot here: Deion Sanders the rapper? Not bad!
5. LaDainian Tomlinson, "LT Slide, Electric Glide"
It's difficult to know where to even start with this one. You just have to watch it for yourself.
According to the San Diego Chargers, this was a Nike promo that was never released. It leaked out in 2010, and the Chargers said via their Twitter account at that time it had been filmed two years earlier, in 2008.
Two years. Not 25 years, which would have been our best guess. The oversized boombox and fluorescent graphics scream 1980s, and we initially thought LaDainian Tomlinson had mastered time travel or something.
This is pretty high on our list, though, because let's be honest, it's hilarious.
4. Green Bay Packers, "Bootylicious"
Maybe you're aware that several members of the Green Bay Packers -- Clay Matthews, David Bakhtiari, Josh Sitton, T.J. Lang and Josh Barclay -- cameoed as an a capella group in the cinematic masterpiece Pitch Perfect II.
This performance earns its spot on our rankings on the merit of Clay Matthews singing the words "My booty" with a fervor that would impress Beyonce herself.
3. Los Angeles Rams, "Let's Ram It"
It's amazing how many teams decided it was a good idea to put out music videos in the 1980s. The LA Rams were no exception, much to our delight 30 years later.
Let's start with the very obvious sexual innuendo in the song title and throughout most of the lyrics. Safety Nolan Cromwell raps, "I like to Ram it, as you can see / Nobody likes Ramming any more than me."
And guard Dennis Harrah added, "I learned long ago to Ram it just right / You can Ram it all day and Ram it all night."
The Rams collectively convey this message: "You can do it just right / You can Ram it all night." Get it get it get it get it?
Yahoo! Sports' Frank Schwab spoke to some of the former Rams players involved with this production and got a behind-the-scenes glimpse at what went into this video, which can be described only as art.
On the decision to make the video, Harrah said:
Coach [John] Robinson knew and said to go ahead and do it, as long as it didn't distract us and it was done in the right way and we didn't make fools of ourselves. We should have listened to him a little more. There were a lot of fools out there.
They shot the video overnight, and cornerback LeRoy Irvin described the experience.
It was probably one of the worst nights of my life.
Fun fact: tackle Jackie Slater, who's seen in the video playing the saxophone enthusiastically, actually doesn't know how to play the saxophone. It was a nice touch and certainly appropriate for the time.
2. Philadelphia Eagles, "Buddy's Watchin' You"
This is nearly perfection from start to finish.
There are so many wonderful things about this song. Let's start with just trying to imagine what Eagles head coach Buddy Ryan must have thought of this, his players' ode to him.
There is nothing in existence that better exemplifies the 1980s than this video, and there are almost too many to name, so we'll limit it to a few standouts:
- Jerome Brown's Michael Jackson-esque red and black leather jacket.
- Randall Cunningham is dressed like an extra on Miami Vice.
- Mike Quick's Benetton-colored grandpa sweater and sunglasses.
- Cunningham yelling, "Yeah, boy!" a la Flavor Flav.
- The backup singers rock bedazzled jean jackets and big hair.
- Andre Waters is wearing a leather fedora and what appears to be a leather trench coat.
- Gregg Garrity's acid-washed jeans, aviator sunglasses and Magnum PI mustache are almost as cool as his flow on the mic.
It's hard to identify the very best thing about this song, but it just may be Luis Zendejas' contribution, which includes the words, "Luis Zendejas, I kick field goals. Am I nervous? Yeah, I suppose."
Apparently, the original version of this video was 30 minutes long. We would love to see the rest of that footage.
1. Chicago Bears, "Super Bowl Shuffle"
Number one on our countdown, and in our hearts, is the "Super Bowl Shuffle."
This is the track that started it all. Without the "Super Bowl Shuffle," there would be no "Buddy's Watchin' You" or "Let's Ram It."
The "Super Bowl Shuffle" was recorded by the legendary 1985 Chicago Bears and was released three months before their 46-10 Super Bowl XX victory over the New England Patriots. The song was actually nominated for a Grammy for best R&B performance by a duo or group but lost out to "Kiss" by Prince and the Revolution, which is probably fair.
The single sold over 500,000 copies and got all the way up to No. 41 on the Billboard chart, which is more than we can say for any of these other performances. Over $300,000 of the profits from this song went to charity.
The legacy of the "Super Bowl Shuffle" still lives on today, which is evidenced by its influence on so many of the other songs in these rankings. We expect many other musical offerings from NFL players and teams in the future, but we'll be surprised if any manage to surpass the popularity of this classic.