Ja Rule on His Favorite Touchdown Dance and His Super Bowl 50 Pick (Sorry, Denver Fans)

Ja Rule
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Ja Rule photographed on Nov. 9, 2015 in New York City.  

Ja Rule, one of rap's best-known hitmakers, is also one of the music world's biggest football fans. Even though his beloved Giants didn't make it to the big game this year, he still agreed to share his Super Bowl 50 picks and predictions with Billboard readers. Considering how accurate his season preview from back in September was, both NFL analysts and 00's hip-hop fans would be wise to take note...

Ja Rule on His NFL Picks, Playing Fantasy & Why He Doesn't Think Brady's Going Back to the Super Bowl

I know you're really into keeping up with sports, and following what’s going on.
It hurts my heart when I miss my games. I'm one of them guys, I like to say I watched history. Like, to be able to say I actually saw it with my own eyes -- either being there at the game, or on television. I live for those moments. I'm still fascinated by hearing stories from my grandpops, when they'd tell me, "You know, we used to listen to the fights over the radio. I remember listening to Muhammad [Ali] vs. Joe Fraser! I was listening!" And I'm like, "You was listening -- you had TVs, right?" [laughs].

Carrying on that tradition -- I do that to my sons now. When they see certain things, I'm like, "You see that? You see Tyronn Lue? He's now the head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers, but I was at the game [where Allen Iverson shot over him in the 2001 NBA Finals]! I was sitting courtside with Irv Gotti, I was right there!" It's fun to be able to tell those stories and have those moments.

If you’re putting money on Super Bowl 50, who’s your bet: the Denver Broncos, or the Carolina Panthers?
As good as the Denver defense is, [outside linebacker] Von Miller and the gang, I have to go with Carolina. They also have a great defense. [Luke] Kuechly [Panthers linebacker] and those dudes are serious. Defense vs. defense -- it's going to be a tough defensive match, is what I'm seeing for the Super Bowl. If it's going to be a tough defensive match, I think that favors Cam Newton. He's young, he's mobile -- he can maybe get out of the pocket, and get away from some of the pressure that's going to be coming at the quarterbacks, whereas Peyton Manning's probably not going to be able to get away. He's going to have to get the ball out very quickly, and I just don't think he can do it -- especially with [Carolina’s] secondary, [cornerback] Josh Norman and everyone. I don't think it's going to happen.

Denver’s definitely coming in as the underdog.
If you're a sports person, though, you're looking at it from all angles -- like, how can this team win? I'd seen how [the Broncos] could win against New England. I saw that. The defense was crazy, New England had a suspect offensive line all year -- I had seen how they could win that game. Just keep Tom Brady off the field! The defense can manage this thing, and we can get Peyton to throw some good 15 yarders, little short stuff -- but Peyton even got the ball down the field pretty good last week, so I would say for Carolina to not be so cocky and sleep on what Peyton can actually do in that pocket.

What do you think the score will be?
I think it's going to be a pretty low-scoring game -- not like Denver/Seattle, what was that? 40 something to 8? It won't be that [laughs]. Unless the defenses rack up points, which is very possible -- pick sixes and stuff like that. I'm really looking at a low-scoring game, in the 20s. I'm gonna go 27-15, Carolina? Something like that? And that last touchdown will be a late, pretty meaningless touchdown, that just seals the game. They're going to dominate the game, basically from beginning to end, but Peyton will squeeze in his little 15 points.

Who’s your pick for MVP?
If Denver wins, it will probably be a defensive player -- it will probably be Von [Miller]. If Carolina wins, it will probably be Cam. Unless Peyton shocks us all and plays a superb game, a masterful game! He's definitely getting it! He plays a superb game, and they win it? They'll give it to him before the game's over -- it'll be the fourth quarter, with 11 minutes to go, like, "Can we just safely say that Peyton Manning's getting MVP?" [laughs].

Who are you pulling for?
I'm rooting for Cam. You know, I love Peyton Manning -- I'm biased, he's a Manning brother, Eli's my guy over here in New York so I have a special love for the Manning brothers -- he's had a great career, he's had his time. I would love for this to be his swan song, and go out with two championships, the whole big thing. I kind of hope that happens for him, but I also want to see Cam get his first championship.

Everyone looks at it, and says, "Yeah, Cam's young and he'll have more chances" -- it ain't that easy to get there. He may not have another chance, you don't know how these things go: injuries, the teams trade certain people in free agency...it's very hard to put together a championship football team. It's not like in basketball and baseball, where guys stick around for a long time and they build these dynasties. It's not like that in football. One of the best teams is the Patriots, and they only have four championships -- not to say only, but they're not a dynasty like the Lakers or the Celtics or the Yankees! You know I had to throw my Yankees in there [laughs].

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Who do you think is going to look better: the Carolina offensive line, or the Denver defensive line?
I think the Denver defensive line may get the better of the battle, but the Panthers have Cam, who can maneuver out of the pocket and get away. There's going to be a lot of times when they're going to get there, but Cam will get away. They may get him a couple of times, but Peyton's a sitting duck back there. If he doesn't get rid of that ball, it's over. Forget it. He's falling on the ground before anyone even touches him, you know what I'm saying?

Who did your favorite Super Bowl halftime show?
The most memorable would probably be Janet [Jackson]'s [laughs], of course -- Nipplegate. But I really enjoyed Prince. Prince’s was really memorable, it was really dope. Bruno Mars was good though too, he killed it. People were like, "Is he big enough to do the Super Bowl?" And then he really did his thing.

What’s your first Super Bowl memory?
What comes to mind, right off top, is the '85 Bears. That was like, the Super Bowl -- and of course my Giants too, they won in '86! But the '85 Bears -- Walter Payton, Jim McMahon, the Fridge...they were the first hip-hop-inspired team, it felt like. Jim was a wild boy, and he was down with the hip-hop. Before that, your quarterback was real laid back, real reserved, the captain of the team -- he had to be a certain way, on the straight and narrow. Jim was like, "Man, fuck that," you know what I'm saying? There hadn't been a guy like that since Broadway Joe! So it was a fun team to watch, and the whole "Super Bowl Shuffle" video and all that -- they were dope.

What are your Super Bowl traditions?
It differs, because I'm on the road a lot. I spent like three Super Bowls in a row on the road -- two of them I was in Germany, and you know, it's not their thing over there, football. I'm in my little pub, like me and five other dudes from America watching the football game, because it doesn't really come on TV there! It was crazy! Torture -- that's pure torture when you want to see something you love, and it's the biggest moment in the whole sport and you can't get to it. Those moments were memorable too, because I shared it with some complete strangers, but we were all there -- rooting for different teams, but we were just so happy to be able to see the Super Bowl! It was like four in the morning, in a little bar, we're watching the Super Bowl...it was cool though.

This year, I think, I'm going to go. I’m going to head on out to the Super Bowl and have some fun. I was going to go to the Carolina game [the NFC championship], but I got snowed in in Vegas! My flight got canceled. I was trying to get to the damn game!

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What song would you tell the Panthers to listen to pregame?
The best song right now for both teams is, "I got a really big team, and I need some really big rings." That's what they should all be listening to right now to get ‘em pumped up: Drake and Future's What A Time To Be Alive. Yeah, ["Big Rings"] should be the theme song of the Super Bowl right now! If they were smart, that would be the theme song. I need to work with the NFL, I need to be a consultant or something. If you've got the hook-up, let them know I'm available [laughs].

Who has your favorite touchdown dance?
Of course Cam -- he's gonna dab on them, and have some fun, and give a ball to a little kid in the crowd, which I think is so dope. I hate the way they try to villainize Cam -- he's a good guy. Let him dance. He's gonna dance, let him dance. He won't be the first, and he won't be the last -- why are y'all making such a big deal out of him dancing? Ridiculous.

I'm not gonna make it a color thing, it's just unfortunate that we can't get past those types of situations, and just enjoy the game, and enjoy that he has passion for the game. These dudes are young, they're in their 20s, they're having fun! They're not 50-year-old men. They want to have fun. Let them have fun, with boundaries. Cam is a great example of that. He's never in trouble, he's a great example for the NFL, a great person to represent the shield, and they shouldn't let people even dog him out like that. They should stand up for him, like, "Yeah, it's ok if he wants to dance! That's fine. He's a great guy."

A portion of this story originally appeared in the Feb. 13 issue of Billboard.

Super Bowl 50


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