Nashville will host the 2019 NFL Draft from April 25 to 27, but this isn’t the first time that two beloved American traditions, country music and football, have found themselves together on the same stage. We’re looking back at some of our favorite football-related moments that have taken place at the Grand Ole Opry.
5 Times Football Went Country at the Grand Ole Opry
1. Dan Marino celebrates Darius Rucker’s Opry induction
For Opry member Darius Rucker and former Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino, the admiration is mutual. Rucker names Marino as his all-time favorite athlete and loves the Dolphins so much that Hootie & The Blowfish’s hit “Only Wanna Be With You” nods to the NFL franchise with the line “I’m such a baby ’cause the Dolphins make me cry.” Marino and Rucker have forged a friendship over the years, and Marino attended Rucker’s Grand Ole Opry induction, one of the biggest nights in the career of a country music artist.
2. Award-winning songwriter Mike Reid can tackle, too
When Mike Reid stepped away from his five-season career as a defensive tackle for the Cincinnati Bengals to pursue his passion for songwriting, “People wanted to come in and hear the Singin' Tackle,” Reid told Sports Illustrated in 2001. But he quickly gained a reputation for his lyrical chops alone once audiences watched him perform. Since 1974, he’s become one of Nashville’s most lauded songwriters, penning “Stranger in My House,” which was recorded by Opry member Ronnie Milsap, Tim McGraw’s “Everywhere,” and instant classic “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” recorded by Bonnie Raitt. He performed on the Opry in 2014.
3. Pro Football Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw goes gospel
Pro Football Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw is clearly good at calling plays, but in 2016, he added a new skill to his resume: producing The Isaacs' album Nature’s Symphony in 432. Bradshaw’s friendship with Opry regulars The Isaacs might seem unlikely on the surface, but the Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback grew up listening to Southern gospel music. Bradshaw has performed with The Isaacs on the Opry, but that’s not his first foray into country music. He’s released a number of country and gospel albums, and in 1976, his rendition of Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” made Billboard’s Top Country Songs Chart.
4. Kerry Collins honors Opry great Little Jimmy Dickens
Kerry Collins, who was a Tennessee Titans quarterback from 2006 to 2010, is a longtime country music fan. He met his wife, Brooke, at a George Strait concert, which inspired their first dance at their wedding. When it came time to celebrate Little Jimmy Dickens’ 60th anniversary as a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 2008, Collins honored Dickens with an autographed football on the famous stage. In 2009, Collins even started a music publishing business, writing and collaborating with the likes of Jamey Johnson.
5. Eric Decker supports Jessie James Decker from sidelines
Married to country artist Jessie James Decker, former NFL wide receiver Eric Decker has paid more than a few visits to the Grand Ole Opry to cheer on his wife. Now that Eric has retired from the NFL, he’s able to spend more time with their kids as Jessie continues to make music. We’ll never forget the time when their children Vivianne and Eric Jr. adorably crashed Jessie’s performance on the Opry circle as Eric watched from side stage on an episode of E! News' Eric & Jessie.
Honorable mention: Kevin Costner in Draft Day
No part of the 2014 movie Draft Day was filmed at the Grand Ole Opry House, but its star, Kevin Costner, has made several appearances on the Grand Ole Opry. The actor has a country-rock band, Kevin Costner & Modern West, which made its Opry debut in 2007.
Don't Miss The Opry's
If you'll be in town for the NFL Draft, don't miss our weekend of Opry shows featuring an incredible lineup of stars including Martina McBride, Mark Wills, Ricky Skaggs, Trace Adkins, Wynonna, Charles Esten and many more!