Players have different ways of preparing for a contest on game day, but for NFL players it usually involves listening to music as they prepare mentally for the game.
And just like the 53 players that make up a team, their choice in music varies from person to person, depending the mood of the player. Some players like upbeat stuff while others are looking for something more mellow to keep them calm.
And some players are more focused on the words in the songs that provide meaning and add fuel in terms of motivation for what they are about to do.
But the most important aspect of pre-game preparation is simple – give them room to breathe.
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“Before the game you have to respect everybody’s personal space,” Seahawks safety Lawyer Milloy said. “So most people have headphones on. Everybody gets ready in different ways.”
The following is a sampling of what songs players listen to on game day, and their reasons for their selections.
WR Deion Branch: Kanye West “Hey Mama”
Branch: “I always think about my family. And my mom is like everything. I mean I’m married and my wife is like my first and all, and along with my kids she means everything to me.
“I just remember those days when I was young, when my mom was like pushing me to play football and taking me to practice. You never forget those little, small things. It just puts me in that realm. I’m sort of doing the same thing, except for my mom is not taking me. So it’s a tribute to her.”
WR Deon Butler: Roscoe Dash “Show out”
Butler: “It’s like a hype song. And it’s basically what I think about doing when me and the wide outs go out we show out, you know what I mean? We’re trying to put on a show, so we’ve got to make some plays.” (Marcus Trufant gave Butler a glare as he said this, obviously not liking the reference to receivers making defensive backs look bad.)
P Jon Ryan: Kenny Chesney “The Good stuff”
Ryan: “I kind of have to stay more even keel than the other guys. At home at listen to some mullet-type music, some head-banging music. I listen to a lot of country, but nothing too heavy. We’re like golfers playing next to football players. We’re trying to stay calm and do all that, and they’re frickin’ going crazy.”
QB Matt Hasselbeck: Silence
Hasselbeck: “What I do is I’ll have noise-cancellation headphones on. But it’s not plugged into anything.I just don’t want to hear people, or their music. I just need silence; focus. Otherwise people want to talk to you. So I wear headphones with no music. Just leave me alone.”
Hasselbeck even tucks the plug in his pants to make it loo like it’s connected to an ipod.
"It’s game day. It’s kind of the calm before the storm. You just want to be focused and relaxed.”
LB Lofa Tatupu: Ini Kamoze “Here Comes the Hotstepper”
Tatupu: “Every time he’d win a golf match against me, my dad would play that, so I listen to that before the game. That was his victory music. So I try to get in the right mind frame with that, and it kind of reminds me of him." LS Clint Gresham: Hill Song, “Mighty to Save”
Gresham said he listens to some Christian music to get himself in the right frame of mind in terms of his faith, but he also agreed with Ryan in staying calm is the way to go for his position.
“It’s like elevator music,” Gresham said.
WR Anthony McCoy: Jay-Z “Dirt off your shoulder”
McCoy: “I just put it on shuffle. I listen to some slow stuff, some rap, just a mixture. I’m not really set on one artist.”
DB Roy Lewis: Kem “I can’t stop loving you”
Lewis played tenor sax growing up and comes from a musical family, with all of his siblings playing different instruments. Lewis said he played sax through junior high school, but quit in high school to focus on his football career
Lewis: “My dad was a fan of Grover Washington, and he always used to play jazz. My dad still plays jazz all the time, and that’s how I picked up on it. … I listen to a lot of things, so it just depends on what kind of mood I’m in. But in my car I always have on jazz.
“On Sundays I like the songs we play in the stadium at kickoff, but other than that I like to keep it real smooth and mellow so I can gather my thoughts.”
Milloy: “It’s kind of like the quiet before the storm. After we do stretch about 10 minutes before we got out I’ll listen to something hard like some J-Z or some Mobb Deep or Lil’ Wayne -- something hard just to spark it up and get going.”
Robinson: “I’m mostly gospel. Most people would look at me and be like, ‘You might listen to DMX.’ I will sprinkle a little rap in there, but I found out it gets me a little too hype, and I start hyperventilating a little bit. But the gospel kind of settles me down and I play faster and under control.”
RB Justin Forsett: Lecrae “Don’t waste your life”
Forsett: “I’ve been showing him some love on Twitter. His album is hot right now”
Robinson: “I think that’s his cousin.” (laughs)
WR Golden Tate: Drake “Find your love”
Tate: “The think I like about Drake is he ain’t too rowdy with it, but it ain’t like he’s slow jamming either. It’s just kind of medium between the two. And a lot of the stuff that he says I think I can relate to sometimes.”
S Jordan Babineaux: UGK “Tell me something good”
Babineaux: “When I wake up in the morning I’ve got to get some praise in so I listen to a little bit of gospel. It just depends on the mood. Sometimes I’ll build it all the way up until pre-game, and then I’ll cut on my little play list, a bunch of mixed music.”
Balmer: “I just try to keep myself mentally sharp. I like to listen to the lyrics in the song. When I listen to music I listen to what they’re saying. And in ‘Loyalty’ he’s talking about everyday he has to get up and do something for his family, and that’s how I feel about these guys. When we go out there on Sunday – and everyday for that matter – we put on the line for each other. So loyalty is all I know.”