It’s football season! Where high hopes drop into merciless mediocrity and flat-out failure at unprecedented rates! More than any other sport in America, football dashes dreams quickly and efficiently. 16 games, no real time for massive comebacks or “getting hot late,” if your team starts 1-3 the rest of the campaign is hardly worth watching. That’s just how brutal this game can be on a psyche that wears its heart for the taking.
So how can we quell the relentless bullying of expectations? Well, we went ahead and assigned an album to a number of football team fanbases, because sometimes music can provide the sonic counseling that the talking heads can never quite articulate. Like bad breakups, loneliness, or addiction, music can be a salve for anyone suffering from sports-induced mental trauma. So go ahead and let these albums soak up the pain in your time of football need.
If you’re a fan of the Cleveland Browns: Kanye West – Late Registration
For the first time ever, the most interesting sports city in America is Cleveland, Ohio. Two of the most dynamic, and scrutinized athletes of the modern era have taken up permanent residence in a city primarily known for self-indulgent commiserating, economic recession, and The Miz. Seriously, if you’re the city that provided Derek Anderson with his only Pro Bowl season, things are pretty dark.
But not for long! You’ve been thrust into the limelight with both hands and hardly any time to adjust! You’ve entirely skipped over the glossy-eyed, happy-to-be-here College Dropout period and right into the suffering-from-success Late Registration era. So when Johnny Manziel punches a photographer, or when LeBron James and Dwyane Wade engage in a bitter, highly publicized war, Kanye’s pre-deity, post-innocent 2005 self is the perfect thing to help you relate to sad millionaires.
If you’re a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers: William Basinski – The Disintegration Loops
If you’re a fan of the New York Jets or New York Giants: Jay Z – Magna Carta, Holy Grail
Truthfully, we stopped caring about Jay Z years ago. His wife has lapped him twice in terms of quality albums released since the turn of the decade, but it was absolutely no surprise that the music industry was frozen for a couple weeks as Jigga dropped perhaps the most autopilot album of a career that’s been on inertia’s slide throughout the Obama administration. Everyone knew Magna Carta, Holy Grail was going to be bad, I mean, we’re talking about an album that was released through an app. But we still had to address its boneheaded philosophy, and mull over the colorless, hollow 6.3 scores we draped at its feet.
That’s pretty much how we feel about the Jets and Giants, two sides that are not good. Empty, calloused storylines trudging through the media desk, hoping against hope that Michael Vick or Peyton Hillis will somehow impinge an unwashed public. Like Jay Z, your New York football teams are bloated, misguided, too-big-to-fail institutions who will be the absolute last people on the planet to realize they’re boring.
If you’re a fan of the Seattle Seahawks: Neil Young – Harvest
The Seahawks have accomplished that rare feat of being commercially successful and critically acclaimed, while still maintaining that secluded, in-the-know mystique that resonates with only the “good” kind of football fan. To appreciate the Seattle Seahawks, you must also appreciate safety play, or press coverage. The other kids would much rather watch Aaron Rodgers throw 60-yard bombs, or you know, listen to The Rolling Stones.
But no, the Seahawks are a step below that disarming ubiquity. Your friends probably know who they are, but like Neil Young, they probably only register as a name rather than a lifestyle. So you get to lay back with the comforting knowledge that you’re enjoying something comprehensive and culturally correct, while the rest of the world refuses to muster up the affluence to join your chin-stroking.
If you’re a fan of the St. Louis Rams: PJ Harvey – Rid of Me
The quarterback that was washed up two years ago just got injured again, and so now you have to spend another year skulking through a turgid 6-10 season while a bunch of pundits get all sorts of enthused about the talent you have on the defensive line and how you did manage to win a game against the 49ers guys! That won’t make you feel better, because this never ends. You’ve wanted to sever this relationship years ago, but the powers that be aren’t letting that happen. Bound forever, to Sam Bradford’s bulbous, Red Delicious head.
Yes, you need a breakup album, but not just any breakup album. You need a starved, lily-white dirge, a bloodsoaked, glassy-eyed trance of pure, normalized hate. You need PJ Harvey. Needless to say, when your franchise is best defined by something Steve Albini produced, things are not looking up.
If you’re a fan of the Detroit Lions: LMFAO – Sorry for Party Rocking
Every time Matthew Stafford throws a touchdown this year, I want you to think about this album. I have never seen a human being more comfortable and unquestioning in his existence. He looks like a man who never questioned for one moment that he wanted to be a quarterback. Has Matthew Stafford ever been to a party where he wasn’t holding the beer bong? Has a day gone by where he hasn’t been the first person to suggest skinny dipping? On a scale of one to ten, how awesome does Matthew Stafford think girls kissing other girls is?
So when you cheer for the Lions this year, I want that to be constantly fronted with a twinge of sadness. I want you to always remember that your adulation is helping to create a world where Matthew Stafford can continue to thrive.
Not to mention, both members of LMFAO are descendants of legendary Motown producer Berry Gordy.
If you’re a fan of the Denver Broncos: Deafheaven – Sunbather
Why Sunbather? Well, it’s urgent, sponged with emotion, and taps into a frantic undercurrent of time-is-running-out drama. If you’re a Broncos fan, you know full well that Peyton Manning has maybe, maybe two years left before his neck completely detaches from his body. You got as close as you could’ve gotten last year, and it still wasn’t enough. The franchise went out and bought DeMarcus Ware and Aqib Talib, teetering veterans that you hope can push you over the edge. Mostly you’re just sitting around, white-knuckle grip around the last chance you’ll have at a title this decade. In situations like this, you must always call on overdramatic emo. It’s the only thing in the universe that can make something as petty, and self-indulgent as “whether or not you’re football team will win” feel like the biggest questions you could possibly ask. Congratulations Denver, this year the Broncos are poetic enough to merit tear-jerky screams into the void.
If you’re a fan of the New England Patriots: Oasis – Be Here Now
Tom Brady is 37 years old. Bill Belichick is 62. Vince Wilfork is 32. Darrelle Revis is going to be 30 with only one knee.
Eventually, the Patriots will implode. It’s inevitable. It’s what happens to greatness. It’s part of the beautiful degradation of all things we hold dear and safe to our hearts. Tom Brady will flub, Bill Belichick will retire. Someday, we all release our Be Here Now.
There’s a lot of parallels you can draw between the millennial New England Patriots and mid-‘90s Oasis. Both were insufferable and impenetrable, and had media (well, mostly NME) groveling at their feet. But you had to begrudgingly respect them, three super bowl titles, Definitely Maybe and (What’s The Story) Morning Glory go a long way. You were rooting for the Carolina Panthers, or Blur, but commercially they could never quite keep up.
But eventually, after enough smoke was blown up their ass, out comes Be Here Now. An overlong, addiction-riddled mess that finally had the world turning on them for good. They beg the media for that familiar glad-handing leniency, but they too have dropped the act. For the first time in years, you don’t hear the words “The Patriot Way” on SportsCenter, and the world becomes a much happier place.