Not writing about football on the Internet on the day that the NFL returns in earnest is about as effective as showing a movie to a group of blind people — no one’s paying attention because OMG MY PANTHERS ARE SOOOO GOING TO KICK THE BUCS ASSES TODAY N-F-L N-F-L. See, even I’m not immune, which is why I’ve been getting pumped up by listening to tracks from NFL Jams, both the 1996 and 1998 versions.
Both albums are shockingly good, with plenty of A-list hip-hop talent, like GZA, Phife Dawg, Method Man, Pharcyde, Ghostface Killah, Destiny’s Child, and Boyz II Men, and even more B-list former NFL players, such as Jeff Blake, Garrison Hearst, Tyrone Wheatley, Rodney Hampton, and Corey Harris. Also, Michael Jackson, though not the Michael Jackson you’re thinking of. To get you that much more excited for today’s league-wide kickoff, here are the 10 best pairings between rapper and athlete from NFL Jams, with one major disclaimer: DJ Hurricane’s “Push ‘Em Up,” featuring the mad flow of awkward rednecks Danny Kanell and Kerry Collins, is nowhere to be found online. You have no idea how mad this makes me.
#10. “Bayriders” by Celly Cell with William Floyd (San Francisco 49ers)
#9. “Heads Get Split” by Channel Live with Corey Harris (Seattle Seahawks)
#8. “No Doubt” by Havoc with Tyrone Wheatley (New York Giants)
#7. “Game Day” by Phife Dawg with Rodney Hampton (New York Giants)
#6. “Fast Life” by Ghostface Killah with Andre Rison (Jacksonville Jaguars)
#5. “Whatever You Want” by Next with Curtis Conway (Chicago Bears) and Michael Jackson (Baltimore Ravens)
#4. “It’s in the Game” by Method Man with Ricky Watters (Philadelphia Eagles)
#3. “Chasing Dreams” by GZA with Esera Tuaolo (Atlanta Falcons)
#2. “Work It Out” by Boyz II Men with Garrison Hearst (San Francisco 49ers)
#1. “Gotcha Lookin'” by Pharcyde with Raghib “Rocket” Ismail (Carolina Panthers)