When you say football, like most of the world, a Jamaican thinks of the game Americans call soccer. Jamaican’s are serious about their football, soccer. But nowadays American football players have more in common with the home of Reggae music than just wearing dread locks. And more recently The Touchdown Project by Jamaad, www.jamaadsports.com, has introduced American Football to Jamaican schools. “JAMAAD is a U.S. nonprofit organization on a mission to help Jamaica’s at-risk youth gain access to opportunities for advancement through American sports.” Honestly no one should be surprised with Jamaica’s history of world class sprinters and having an olympic bob sledding team despite not having snow. Imagine Usain Bolt running down the side line to catch a bullet pass. Even Bob Marley has a grandson, Nico Marley, who plays linebacker for the Washington Redskins and his father Rohan Marley used to play American Football in college.
Here are some young Jamaican students in full American Football gear.
The cultures have crossed paths over the years with Reggae music and Jamaican patois being used in Super Bowl commercials. Bud Light used Bob Marley’s hit “We Jammin” in it’s famous commercial starring frogs and an alligator. In 2013 Volkswagen did a commercial with Jamaican accents that was also popular. This year Diet Coke used a dance song driven by the sampled voice of Dancehall legend Shabba Ranks in their commercial spot. These commercials are upwards of 1 million dollars per. But there has yet to be a half time performance from a Reggae artist.
Here is the Budweiser’s commercial featuring Bob Marley’s “We Jammin”.
Here is the VW commercial “Get Happy”.
Here is this years Diet Coke commercial.
Reggae did have an on stage appearance at this years 52nd Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles. Thanks to two musical giants and long time Reggae ambassadors Sting and Shaggy. Each have sold over 20 million records and are responsible for 18 Grammy’s combined. They performed at the tailgate pre game concert which was televised on NBC not during the halftime show. This follows their Grammy performance and spoof video with James Corden. The two are musical power houses and although the song is not, by either of their standards, their best work it is keeping Reggae in the main stream spot light. Reggae is a powerful genre with or without the Super Bowl hype but it doesn’t hurt that the presence is felt.
Here is Sting and Shaggy’s performance at the Super Bowl tailgate concert.
Here is the spoof video with Sting, Shaggy and James Corden.
There are quite a few “American Football” players from Jamaica and with organizations like Jamaad looking to cultivate the sport on the island we all should work to see not only the youth that play benefit from scholarships and potential professional contracts but that our culture is represented. It is already happening and we need to get ahead of the trend. There is lots of controversy surrounding the NFL and the ostracizing of quarterback Colin Kapernick for kneeling during the national anthem in protest of police brutality but we have to find a way to support both the right to protest and those capitalizing on their opportunity. Both positions can be catalysts for change. One Jamaican born player has already made an impact in the game, playing in this and previous Super Bowls. Patrick Chung number 23 of the New England Patriots. Although the Patriots lost, Patrick won two Super Bowl rings with the Patriots in 2015 and 2017and had several solid defensive plays this year, playing with reckless abandon while dodging injury and putting it all on the line. Not only should we support and recognize this young man’s play but his love for his culture and the fact that his mother is veteran Reggae singer Sophia George best known for her classic “Girlie Girlie”. Reggae influence is everywhere even “American Football”.
Here is a link on NFL.com where Patrick Chung talks about coming from Jamaica and his famous Reggae singing Mom. http://www.nfl.com/videos/new-england-patriots/0ap3000000781359/Chung-talks-about-his-famous-reggae-singing-mom
Here is Sophia George’s Reggae classic “Girlie Girlie”.