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When you think of sports teams recording songs, you no doubt think of the Golden Era of Athletic Musicianship: The 1980s. “The Superbowl Shuffle”. “Let’s Go Mets”. That Jamaican bobsled song. True classics that have stood the test of time.
But there were several earlier instances of a team lending their golden pipes to musical projects. In 1969, all 28 NFL teams recorded a collection of holiday favorites. If the cover of this version is any indication, the project was initiated by the players’ union, not the NFL itself. You’ll also notice that Santa loves good ol’ smash mouth football, as he tries to gouge out a running back’s eyes.
I have only heard one song from one of these collections: “Jingle Bells”, as sung by the New York Giants on The Giants Sing Holiday Halftime. In the early 70s, Jean Shepherd often used this song as bed music while be told a Christmas tale, and sometimes just played it straight up.
I will give the Giants this: They certainly sounded like they were into it. Though the spirit might have been willing, the throats were weak. Very weak. Especially since the arranger decided to modulate the song to higher and higher keys as it went along, a decision that stretched the Giants’ already limited singing skills past their breaking points. I would say they should’ve stuck to their day jobs, but they weren’t that great at that, either; the Giants went 6-8 in 1969.
You can hear the original tune at the Jean Shepherd fan site FlickLives.com by clicking here. They also have a clip of Shep explaining why he enjoyed playing it so much, which you can listen to here (although he misidentifies the offending team as the Jets).