Stevie Johnson’s new track and an incomplete history of the NFL and rap music


Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson has always had a playful, expressive side. He mimes Plaxico Burress shooting himself. He likes to re-enact plane crashes. He'll get a message across any way he can, including with a homemade T-shirt.

This time around, his creativity has taken the form of rap. Johnson, with the help of hip-hop artist The Game, released this track, "Run It Back."

(WARNING: There's no profanity, but nary a second goes by without some kind of sexual innuendo. Err on the side of caution at work.)

Not bad, right? There's no danger of me being hired to do reviews on Pitchfork anytime soon, but I feel comfortable grading that effort as, at the very least, "non-embarrassing." It's got a slick beat and very good production value, which starts Johnson out way ahead of the game. No need for Lil' Wayne to look over his shoulder, but this is listenable.

And if we're grading by the standards of athletes as rappers, it's outstanding. And if we narrow it even further, to within NFL boundaries, it's absolutely transcendent. The NFL does not have a particularly proud history when it comes to rap music.

The Chicago Bears started the whole sad thing in 1985 with the Super Bowl Shuffle. I hesitate to even include it, because it can't be considered a real attempt at rap. It was just, you know, the Bears goofing off because what were they supposed to, worry about the mighty Patriots? I don't think anyone in that video honestly believed they had a future in the rap game.

Then again, William Perry did release a follow-up, "The Refrigerator Man." It did not sweep the nation.

The next best-known attempt was from Deion Sanders in 1994, when he released not just the iconic and painful "Must be the Money," but also, a whole damn album. I'm going to assume that "Must be the Money" was the best song on that album, and then I'm going to assume that I'm better off never attempting to find out for myself.

After that, there's a huge gap in NFL/rap history, probably because the NBA had the market cornered. Why even try to mess with Cedric Ceballos? We're in the midst of a small revival, though. Ramzee Robinson, once the draft's Mr. Irrelevant, once rapped professionally. Brandon Lloyd has done a little more than dabble (link is NSFW). And now there's Stevie Johnson in the studio with The Game.