Every fan knows 'We Ready.' How did the song become such a massive sports anthem?
Looking down from nosebleed seats, in a sea of orange and blue, the field looked tiny but the anticipation was huge. Players jumped up and down as chants of "Weeee readayyy, for y'all" filled the air.
It was a Denver Broncos game years ago, and that memory still elicits goosebumps. And that song — "We Ready" by Archie Eversole — has contributed to countless fans experiencing similar unforgettable moments.
"When that song is playing, you know what's about to happen next," Brandon London, a former NFL and Canadian football player, told USA TODAY Sports. "And whether you're a fan or whether you’re an athlete, coach, doesn't matter. You know what's about to go down."
NBC used the song to preview the NFL wild-card matchup between the Los Angeles Chargers and Jacksonville Jaguars, and it wouldn't be surprising to hear it ahead of this weekend's AFC and NFC championship games.
But who is Archie Eversole? And how did his song become one of the biggest sports anthems of all time?
The story of 'We Ready'
Born Arthur Eversole, the Atlanta-based rapper released the song he would be remembered for at the age of 17. "We Ready," along with its remix featuring Bubba Sparxxx, was part of his first and only full-length album, "Ride Wit Me Dirty Style," released in 2002.
"It was a major, massive hit, not only just in the nightclubs in the Atlanta area, but it became a national hit because of the aggressiveness," A.R. Shaw, journalist and author of "Trap History: Atlanta Culture and the Global Impact of Trap Music," told USA TODAY Sports. "It was one of those songs that inspired you to move."
MORE: 'We Ready' rapper Archie Eversole dies at 37, allegedly shot by brother
Twenty years later, Eversole was shot and killed in April of last year at the age of 37. His brother was arrested and charged with murder. Tributes poured in across the sports world, including from Atlanta United FC — Eversole was an ambassador for the MLS team — Heisman-winning quarterback Robert Griffin III, the Cincinnati Bearcats, Maryland Terrapins, a high school swimmer and even the mayor of Atlanta.
His legacy lives through "We Ready," which gives to the world the same energy those close to Eversole said he effused throughout his life.
Eversole was a product of a city often overlooked as hip-hop focused on the East and West Coasts. That is until Outkast won "Best New Rap Group" at the 1995 Source Awards, where André 3000 famously declared "The South got somethin' to say."
"Archie was one of those kids that said, 'Look, we’re not gonna wait for anyone to tell us, give us permission, we’re just gonna do what we wanna do,'" Shaw said. "We’re gonna express ourselves and see what happens."
"We Ready" was a derivative of Pastor Troy's 1999 single "No Mo Play in G.A.," which also used a chant of "We ready" and said people needed to respect the Peach State just like California or New York.
"It was the crunk era. Everybody wanted to get crunk," Baby D, who had Eversole and Pastor Troy on his own Atlanta hit, told USA TODAY Sports. "'Eastside vs. Westside.' It was like, we was all just representing where we was from."
Bem Joiner, a friend of Eversole's and founder of creative agency Atlanta Influences Everything, said "We Ready" uses a call-and-response musical pattern that's popular in the South, giving it a Gospel feel.
And Eversole's authenticity and energy on "We Ready" helped it transcend the hip-hop scene, according to Shaw.
"His personality represented the music that he made," he said. "He was always this high-energy guy. Whenever you saw him, he had that energy.
"Someone who, when you meet him ... He’s the type of person that’s going to make everybody feel good."
That quality translate well as an ambassador to Atlanta United FC, which made its MLS debut in 2017. Atlanta United fans adopted "We Ready" as an unofficial anthem. He crafted multiple songs for the club and frequently performed at team events.
Eversole even once parked in owner Arthur Blank's parking spot at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Dawit Selassie, record label executive, coach and founder of The Beautiful Game project, recalled on soccer podcast "For The Culture" after Eversole's passing.
"Archie was a character," Kacey Covino, director of brand marketing and strategy at Atlanta United FC, told USA TODAY Sports. "He brought an energy to the room that was like unmatched wherever he went."
An all-around sports anthem
Oh you don't crank 'We Ready' at your city hall?? #FILA #Falcons #RiseUp @archieeversole pic.twitter.com/v5QqZwhSsm
— Cody Chaffins (@Cody_Fox5) January 27, 2017
"We Ready" quickly spread throughout the sports world.
"Everybody I’ve seen use it, it gives them good energy and they usually end up winning," Eversole told KAKE Kansas City in 2014.
This year, in addition to NFL playoff games, the song echoed at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, ahead of the 2023 College Football Playoff national championship.
"We Ready" was also featured in an NFL 100 commercial to preview the 2019 season. Eversole was proud of the placement, writing on Instagram, "Don’t let nothing stop yo dreams #WEREADY."
The Atlanta Falcons used the song during the NFC championship in 2017. Chicago Sky players sang it before a game in the 2020 WNBA bubble. And the Kansas City Royals made "We Ready" their anthem during the 2014 season, which included sweeping the Los Angeles Angels and Baltimore Orioles to reach the World Series.
“They turned me into a real baseball fan again,” Eversole said in 2014 before the Royals' first game of the World Series. “I don’t think this team has any chance of losing. They’re sweeping teams left and right.”
Pitcher Danny Duffy was the one who first played the song in the clubhouse, and the public announcer played it on the loudspeakers during home games en route to the championship.
“I just put it on because I thought it would get everyone really pumped up in the clubhouse,” Duffy said. “I used to watch my high school basketball team jump around and sing that before they came out for warmups, and the whole crowd would get really into it. It’s just an extra little kick to get the boys going. It’s like taking a shot of espresso and going out there to the field. It’s adrenaline, because we’re all ready.”
Atlanta United gives 'We Ready' new life
"We Ready" was in heavy rotation on radio stations and in the clubs of Atlanta during the crunk period in the early 2000s. The song was essentially left behind once the city moved onto the trap era with sharp snares, higher BPMs and stories of life in broken neighborhoods led by Jeezy, T.I. and Gucci Mane.
But social media — including viral clips of high school and youth teams chanting the lyrics — helped keep it in the public's consciousness. Atlanta United also pushed Eversole back into the spotlight when they embraced him as a team ambassador in 2017.
"This guy who had a moment and everyone just thought, 'Ok, you’re never going to hear from him again,'" Shaw said. "Then all of a sudden, the song becomes viral and the Atlanta United pick it up and he gets this new life."
In a place dominated by football and basketball, Eversole embraced the new sport in town.
Eversole lit up the stadium when he performed or participated in the team's signature hammering of the golden spike. He was magnetic for the fans, who made "We Ready" scarves and frequently chanted the song at games. They did so when the team honored him with a seat pitchside after his death.
"He was just a fan of the club and it was very natural and organic," Covino said. "And that's what made it so fun for us and our fans is because there was nothing that was really orchestrated."
Eversole also created the team's anthem "United We Conquer" in 2018, the same season they won their first MLS Cup.
Mike Summers, former head of marketing and digital for Atlanta United FC, said fans loved his song and "loved what he represented for our club."
For Archie ∞ pic.twitter.com/tS779llvzl
— Atlanta United FC (@ATLUTD) April 16, 2022
Much more than a one-hit wonder
Despite only having "We Ready" as a song recognizable by the masses, Eversole avoided the "one-hit wonder" title.
"There's been some one-hit wonders where I was like, 'Oh, there's a cool song, a catchy song' — never thought about it," London said. "But 'We Ready' will forever be played in arenas and stadiums."
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Joiner said Eversole's vibrant personality and position as an ambassador for the city made him recognizable for something more than the song. He had spoken with Eversole about branding "We Ready" for the 2026 World Cup games in Atlanta, even tossing around the idea of translating the saying into other languages for teams from across the globe to feel the song's sense of motivation.
"WE READY" was and will forever be on every athlete's and stadium's game day playlist!!
R.I.P Archie Eversole!!! https://t.co/qttoCy3Wu0
— Brandon London (@BrandonLondonTV) April 14, 2022
Even though "We Ready" initially gained traction and remains in the popular music lexicon because of sports, the song can translate to other life events. Perhaps that's why it became as big as it did, because everyone — a Heisman-winning quarterback playing in a championship game or a student needing to pass a test or a couple about to get married — reaches a point when there's no more room for preparation.
"You can wrap that 'we ready' around so many instances of getting out of your own way and going to do the thing that you came here to do," Joiner said.
"It's just go time. Ain't nothing to talk about. We ready."
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: How did Archie Eversole's 'We Ready' become a massive sports anthem?