NFL Players Talk Music: What's On Their Pre-Game Playlists?

NFL Players John Jenkins, A.J. Bouye & Audie Cole
Getty Images; Landov

NFL Players John Jenkins, A.J. Bouye & Audie Cole 

A brand new NFL season kicks off tonight, as the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks host the Super Bowl-contending Green Bay Packers in a nationally-televised game. There will be plenty of live music in and around Seattle’s CenturyLink Field -- Pharrell Williams and Soundgarden are performing beforehand, and Ariana Grande is on hand to sing the national anthem. Aside from the music blasted from stadium soundsystems, many NFL players use tunes inside their headphones to get pumped for games… or to chill out afterwards. Billboard spoke with six NFL players about their listening habits, which range from chart-topping hip-hop, to country music, to gospel, to dance music with flute solos.

Geoff Schwartz, Guard, New York Giants

Do you listen to music to get you pumped before a game?

When I was younger in college, I used to listen to music on the bus ride over to the stadium and in the locker room. That was when I was more nervous -- I would listen to music to calm me down. The older I’ve gotten, the less I’ve listened to it outside of warming up… I go out to warm up on my own before the team and I put it on then to get me going. I have some rock and roll on there… I like music that has good beats. And recently I’ve been into EDM-type stuff, like Kaskade, Avicii, and Tiësto. But I grew up on the west coast, and my first CD was the Tupac album, All Eyez on Me.

In the locker room, do players listen to music together, or is it more on headphones?

Most teams, 90% of them, are headphones. But last year [with the 2013 Kansas City Chiefs], we had a boom box in the locker room… It brought the team together and by the end of the year, people were asking for it, “Hey can you play this?”

For a while, all the new Beats headphones were really loud, so you could hear what everyone was listening to. Now they’ve made them so you can’t hear that… so it’s more quiet.

Audie Cole, Linebacker, Minnesota Vikings

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Minnesota Vikings linebacker Audie Cole #57 in action during the NFL game between the Minnesota Vikings and the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. 

What do you listen to before a game?

My go-to is the Lit Pandora station. It takes you back to the Sum 41, Blink-182 stuff. They’ll play some Smash Mouth with it, Third Eye Blind, Everclear. Sometimes I’ll listen to country music. A buddy of mine got me into the electronic techno music, stuff with a lot of bass to get you going, like Far East Movement.

One of the best pump-up songs has got to be “Flute," I don’t even know the artist. It’s an electronic song with a couple flute solos. You might wanna check that one out.

What do you hear others playing in the locker room?

A lot of rap music, a lot of country music. I hear a lot of John Legend, a lot of top hits.

What was the last concert you went to?

Most of the concerts I’ve been to are country concerts. They had a bunch down in North Carolina, in college: Kid Rock, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley, Tim McGraw, Jimmy Buffett, Eric Church, Jake Owen. I'm a big Jake Owen fan.

If we’re talking karaoke, I’m going to go with Alanis Morissette, “Ironic.” …I’ve done “My Own Worst Enemy” by Lit with my buddy, (Vikings' safety) Harrison Smith.

Did you ever have to get up and sing when you were a rookie?

No, I kinda snuck my way out of it. I just kinda sat there and tried not to be called on.

Justin Durant, Linebacker, Dallas Cowboys

Justin Durant of the Dallas Cowboys

What do you like to listen to before a game?

I listen to older stuff from when crunk really took off, like Lil Jon, Three 6 Mafia and stuff like that… DMX’s first album was one of my favorite albums of all-time. There’s some angry stuff on that album I like to listen before the games. It’s a combination of stuff, depending on my mood. I like Young Jeezy, pretty much anything from Atlanta around that time. Also, T.I.’s Urban Legend and Trap Muzik.

Who else on Dallas has good taste in music?

Tony Romo listens to a lot of old ‘90s pop hip-hop, that would probably have been on Now That’s What I Call Music. Or some James Blake. He’s cool. He’s one of of the people who, if he has his box out, I’ll listen just to see what he’s doing.

What are you spinning right now?

ILoveMakonnen, the dude that just signed to Drake’s OVO Sound. The music is kind of weird, but he has some of the producers from Atlanta, like Metro Boomin and Sonny Digital, those guys who make a lot of stuff with Future, Migos, stuff like that.

I’m huge Jeezy fan, so I’ve been spinning his latest albums. I always go back to older stuff like Sade. I’m a huge R&B fan -- Sade, Mary J. Blige, Whitney Houston. When I come home from practice, I like to zone out on the couch and put on some Devin the Dude, some Bon Iver, to mellow out.

D.J. Fluker, Offensive Tackle, San Diego Chargers

 D.J. Fluker of the San Diego Chargers

What’s on your pre-game playlist?

“We Dem Boyz” by Wiz Khalifa, “0 To 100” by Drake, “Believe Me” by Lil Wayne, "Yayo" by Snootie Wild Feat. Yo Gotti, “Money Baby” by K CAMP Feat. Kwony Ca$h, and “Kobe” by Chief Keef. I’m also a fan of Tupac, French Montana, Meek Mill, and Yo Gotti.

I also listen to gospel songs; I always pray before I step on the field: “Never Would Have Made It” by Marvin Sapp, “I Smile” by Kirk Franklin, and “We Fall Down” by Donnie McClurkin.

John Jenkins, Defensive Tackle, New Orleans Saints

Stacy Revere/Getty Images
John Jenkins #92 of the New Orleans Saints comes out during player introductions prior to a game against the Miami Dolphins at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on September 30, 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

What do you like to listen to before a game?

“Intro” from Meek Mill’s DreamChasers, “Dangerous” by Busta Rhymes, and anything by A$AP Ferg. I’m a big A$AP Mob fan. And French Montana -- I’m from Connecticut, so I listen to a bunch of east coast music. Also, Rick Ross and Tupac.

What do other players on the team like?

A lot of guys from the west coast play YG and Nipsey Hussle. One of my guys is Jigz The Flyer, who’s from Connecticut. A lot of my teammates are catching onto him.

What do you listen to after a game?

After the game, I listen to the Weeknd. I’ve been doing that since I was at Georgia and it just became a routine.

What were you into as a kid?

When I was younger -- you probably wouldn’t believe it -- my favorite band was Korn. I was really into dirt bikes and it came with that culture.


A.J. Bouye, Cornerback, Houston Texans

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Cornerback A.J. Bouye #34 of the Houston Texans runs out onto the field before the preseason NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on August 9, 2014 in Glendale, Arizona.

What are your listening habits before a game?

I usually just put on my headphones and get in my zone: Schoolboy Q, Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul, and Lil Wayne. T.I. is another one of my favorites since I’m from Atlanta. Also, I was into Young Jeezy and Outkast growing up.

I try to listen to a little bit of Slim Thug, the music from Houston. But being from Atlanta, that’s really all I listen to -- T.I., Young Jeezy, and stuff.

What was the last concert you went to?

Probably a Drake concert in college.