Last Thursday, before Bon Jovi's free concert for 5,000 contest winners, fan club members and construction workers in the parking lot of the new Meadowlands in East Rutherford, N.J., SI.com's Jimmy Traina spoke with New Jersey native Jon Bon Jovi about a variety of sports topics, the band's upcoming tour and much more.
SI.com: We're in the middle of the baseball's postseason and you guys again were a staple of TBS' coverage with We Weren't Born to Follow. How'd that happen?
Bon Jovi: They had so much success with I Love This Town [the previous two years] and we created a friendship with the producer. Our manager played them the new single, and he just went crazy for it and said, "You gotta give it to me before anyone else." Which was great and bad all in the same breath, because he got it and he exposed it and they really branded it for baseball. But I gave it to the Patriots personally before anyone had it, and Bill [Belichick] heard it and said this was going to be their theme song for the year. And now baseball has branded it, so I don't know if it's going to end up being the Patriots' theme song for the year. I'm glad because so many people relate to it. And there's a line in it, "This one's about the one who curses and spits." Every coach, every player thinks it's about him. But it's a nun from Philadelphia.
SI.com: Well, that will work out well with the Phillies in the World Series. You guys have strong ties to both Philly and New York. Are you torn about a Phillies-Yankees World Series?
Bon Jovi. No. In all honesty, I'm not. I'm a football guy. Baseball, I enjoy it at playoff time. So having my druthers, I'd just come out flat out for the Yanks.
SI.com: Do you like their chances?
Bon Jovi: The Yankees have said since last March that it's all or nothing this year. But there seems to be great synergy on the team. And that, to me, is what any successful relationship has to be built on. You can't just have nine celebrities on the field. You gotta have a team. And it looks like they're really supporting each other, so fingers crossed, I'd like the see the Yankees bring a title back. It's been a long time.
SI.com: You mentioned Bill Belichick before. There's a great YouTube that's been in Hot Clicks of Belichick and Charlie Weis singing Wanted Dead or Alive with you at a charity event. You have a relationship with Belichick. And that video showed a side of him football fans never see. Tell us about your relationship. Does he sing a lot?
Bon Jovi: [Laughing] Not a lot. He's a very old friend of mine, 20-plus years at this point. We met when he was a defensive coordinator here [with the Giants]. And [Bill] Parcells allowed me to be the "mascot" back then. And then we stayed close. He's a closet drummer. [Bon Jovi band member] Tico [Torres] bought him a drum kit years ago. He came to Europe with us on the road in '95.
SI.com: So what did you have to do to get him on stage to sing? I know it was a charity event.
Bon Jovi: It was an event for Hannah, Charlie's daughter. Somebody, I think it was Brady Quinn, paid a lot of money for whatever the prior item was. And I said I'll double that amount if they'll come up and pretend to be Richie [Sambora]. And all they had to do was sing one line. But they were so caught up in the spotlight that they decided to sing the whole chorus. All I wanted them to do was say the word "wanted." When Bill got on stage, he said he'd pay 60 grand to not have to sing. I said, "Too late, pal."
SI.com: What's going on with the Arena League [Bon Jovi is co-owner of the Philadelphia Soul]?
Bon Jovi: I gotta tell you, let me see if I could put this one politically correct. We have spent more time since we won the title in 2008 trying to reorganize the league and trying to bring it back in a much bigger and better way than we spent the first five years we were in the league. And I'm not even exaggerating. We have conference calls and meetings regarding the future of the Arena League every day. Today, more than ever before, I think the chances of it coming back are less than any other day between now and 15 months ago, and it's really disheartening because the fans deserve an affordable, accessible sports broadcast with role models as players and ownership groups like ours that were committed.
SI.com: Is it just because of the economy right now?
Bon Jovi: That was the reason for the reorganization. And then, like any onion that you peel back, there are layers in there and you go, "Oh, I didn't know that, I didn't know that." So now, I'm more despondent than I've ever been.
SI.com: Would you try to get involved with an NFL team?
Bon Jovi: I've tried.
SI.com: Celebrities owning NFL teams seems to be all the rage these days.
Bon Jovi: Now that's bull----. That's what you call a bull---- vanity project.
SI.com: Every day it's a new celebrity.
Bon Jovi: Please. I want to own an NFL franchise. I understand the business of football. I'm not looking for a vanity project. One-seventh of one percent is not ownership.
SI.com: So you're opening the new Meadowlands in May. Is that a big deal for you?
Bon Jovi: Oh, yeah. If we had to decide to close the old Meadowlands or open the new Meadowlands, either one would've been a great deal. But I'm so happy with the way it worked out because there can only be one first. And Bruce's [Springsteen] tour cycle was ending and ours was beginning so it was agreed that that's the way it would go and I couldn't be happier. [Springsteen played the last concert at the old Meadowlands on Oct. 9.]
SI.com: You guys do a long show and you don't stop for an intermission or anything. How grueling is it?
Bon Jovi: It's a lot. You have to get physically and emotionally ready for it. I intended to do 10 shows on the last tour and that was going to be the end of it. But with this one, it's the opposite. I'm ready to go, I'm excited to go and this album, The Circle, is meant for this kind of a venue. I loved the last album and it worked out well for us, but this is a big rock record.
SI.com: I have to ask you about Livin' On a Prayer.
Bon Jovi: Sure.
SI.com: It's sort of become a huge karaoke anthem. I won't lie. I've performed it once or twice.
Bon Jovi: Do you sound good on tequila?
SI.com: I never sound good. But I was wondering if you ever go on YouTube and check out people singing it.
Bon Jovi: Is that on YouTube? Karaoke versions of Livin' on a Prayer?
SI.com: Of course.
Bon Jovi: Oh, my God. That is classic.
SI.com: Will we ever hear about Tommy and Gina in a Bon Jovi song again?
Bon Jovi: [Laughing] They've retired to Florida. They're old people now.