When football great Peyton Manning takes the stage at the 56th CMA Awards on Nov. 9 to co-host with Luke Bryan, he’ll join a small but impressive group of professional athletes who have co-hosted music awards shows.
Four other pro athletes – also football stars – have co-hosted music awards shows. Four of the five served as co-hosts of country music awards shows, which suggests a strong overlap between country fans and football fans.
This connection is also seen in the number of country stars who have been tapped to sing the national anthem at the Super Bowl. The roster includes Charley Pride (1974), Garth Brooks (1993), Faith Hill (2000), The Chicks (2003, when they were still known as Dixie Chicks), Carrie Underwood (2010), Bryan (2017), Eric Church (2021, with Jazmine Sullivan) and Mickey Guyton (2022). Pride and Hill also sang “America the Beautiful” at the Super Bowl in 1974 and 2009, respectively. Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert sang that patriotic standard in 2012.
Country stars have also been tapped to sing the theme songs on weekly TV football programs. From 1989 to 2011, Hank Williams Jr. performed a version of his 1984 hit “All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight” (reworked as “All My Rowdy Friends Are Here on Monday Night”) as the opening theme to ABC’s Monday Night Football. The song was dropped in 2011, but reinstated in 2017, with a new version by Williams Jr., Florida Georgia Line and Jason Derulo.
Hill sang “Waiting All Day for Sunday Night,” the theme from NBC Sunday Night Football, from 2007-12, before passing the ball to Underwood in 2013.
Other country artists also have a strong connection to football. Kenny Chesney had a No. 1 hit on Hot Country Songs in 2010 with “The Boys of Fall,” with lyrics about playing high school football. Tim McGraw has acted in two films in which football is a central theme: Friday Night Lights and The Blind Side.
Here are the five professional athletes who have co-hosted music awards shows. They are listed in reverse chronological order by the date of the show.