September 14, 2016
Le’Veon Bell and Christine Michael will carry the ball a lot for their teams during the professional football season, which kicked off last week.
In addition to carrying the ball, they can also carry a tune.
Bell, a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers and arguably the best running back in the game today, has dreams of making it as a rapper and released his debut mixtape, The Interview, in March.
“To be honest, I’ve been rapping since I was 13 years old,” Bell said in an interview with XXL. “That’s when I recorded my first track. But now that I got a little fan base and I got a lot of followers, people are actually listening to me. I just didn’t want to limit myself to being on the field. Making music is something I’ve always wanted to do.”
Michael, a running back with the Seattle Seahawks, released his first rap effort on SoundCloud last summer. In a recent interview with Billboard, Michael acknowledged that it’s rare to see current NFL players succeed as recording artists.
“The thing is, I’ve never seen it in football,” he said. “Maybe in basketball – maybe. But I’ve never really seen someone do both football and music, and really be good at them.”
Country music singer Sam Hunt can attest to that – he played quarterback at Middle Tennessee State University and the University of Alabama-Birmingham. After graduating from the University of Alabama-Birmingham in 2007, the Kansas City Chiefs invited Hunt to training camp, but he didn’t make the team and moved to Nashville.
Hunt just had the fourth song from his debut album, Montevallo, reach No. 1 on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart.
Despite his love for music, Michael said his recording career moves to the sidelines once the season begins.
“I’m just trying to focus, of course, on training camp,” he said. “I seem to be getting that pretty well though… maybe I can dive into some more music down the line. After training camp, after cuts, after we’re done getting ready for the season. As of now I’m just focusing – writing some things down, not going back and forth too much to record due to the time we’re spending here.”
Bell and Michael aren’t the only football players with a love for music.
Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker put his singing talent on display in a television commercial last year.
Tucker, who can sing in seven languages, majored in recording technology at the University of Texas and studied voice under professor Nikita Storojev, an opera singer and former professional hockey player in Russia, according to ESPN.com.
“It’s definitely cool to take the time in the offseason (and) do something for yourself. For me, I like to do something a little bit more artistic,” Tucker said in a recent interview with 247sports.com.
A handful of football players successfully transitioned to music once their careers ended.
The Cleveland Browns drafted Ta’u Pupu’a in 1995, but injuries preempted his career, and the tenor studied opera for three years at the Juilliard School. Lawrence Harris became an opera singer after his career as a lineman with the Houston Oilers ended in 1982.
Pupu’a told Men’s Journal singing and football aren’t so different.
“Being a singer is like being an athlete,” Pupu’a told Men’s Journal. “You have to be strong, physically and mentally – checking your nerves, singing in front of thousands of people, projecting without a microphone over an orchestra. The lights go on, and it’s like walking out onto a football field. When you hit the high C and get the cheer, it’s like sacking a quarterback – when I’d look up and see them doing a replay for 80,000 people.”