BY MELISSA RUGGIERI/AJC Music Scene
HOUSTON – Headphones are as much an accompaniment to a football player as a helmet, which is a good thing because most have divergent tastes in music.
Except, maybe, for Atlanta Falcons center Alex Mack, who said he really doesn’t listen to music before a game, but cranks up AC/DC and other classic rock artists during a workout.
At the Monday Opening Night gathering of players from both Super Bowl teams, a few Falcons were willing to share which songs and artists amplify their adrenaline.
Star running back Devonta Freeman keeps it old school with a lot of Tupac Shakur, Biggie Smalls and Jay Z, as well as homegrown talent Future.
Even though shutdown corner Desmond Trufant isn’t playing Sunday because of a season-ending injury in November, he still has plenty of music in his life in the locker room and gym.
“I’m from the West Coast, so I listen to a lot of West Coast music, (like) Nipsey Hussle. I also listen to J. Cole, Jay Z, a little bit of everything, whatever gets me in that mindset… Future, Luda, T.I., all of them guys I’m always listening to, too,” he said.
Wide receiver Mohamed Sanu keeps it personal:
Tackle Tom Compton is a full-on metalhead who gets pumped to North Carolina prog metal band Between the Buried and Me.
Though he prefers to keep his playlist on shuffle – “to keep me guessing” – he does have a pre-game standard: “Prequel to a Sequel” from Between the Buried and Me.
“I’ve been listening to that kind of music since high school, college. I grew up as a big fan of Green Day and got into a punk phase which turned into a thrash phase, like Slayer, Pantera…I love Mastodon. I’ve been to four or five of their shows. I always wanted to meet them.”
Tight end Austin Hooper is a diverse music listener, hopping from rock to rap to house.
Safety Ricardo Allen proclaims his allegiance to young South Florida rapper Kodak Black, but also tunes in to J. Cole and Wale, “even though he hasn’t come out with a lot of stuff recently.”
But on Sunday, the safety is sticking with his go-to artist. “I’m going to Kodak Black, whatever he got.”
(When a reporter next to me asked Allen “Drake or Lil Wayne?,” he didn’t hesitate with his answer. “I’m going with Drake.”)
Defensive rookie Sharrod Neasman has a different game day music plan than some of his fellow players.
“I start with little slower music, R&B, because I don’t want to get too pumped up leading up to the game. You don’t want to peak so you have to listen to the right kind of stuff. I just put on Soundcloud, Pandora. Eventually I get to hip-hop and then to hardcore rap. That’s pretty much the timeline.”
His favorite in the latter categories is Louisiana rapper Webbie as well as some smaller, underground artists. “I’m not from Atlanta, so I’m not familiar with the local artists,” he said.