by Ryan Meehan
The world as we know it would not look the same without classic rock. Every day all across this great nation of ours, factories and shops are doing the work that made our country that awesome in the first place. In the background, usually you will hear classic era rock n’ roll blaring from some type of audio device covered in paint splatters. That’s because classic rock has helped us continue to export the few things that are still made in the U.S.A. We all have bands from that era we love, and we are all familiar with most of the bands that made that great music.
So what I’ve decided to do in order to give everybody something a little bit different to start off the new year with. I’ve went ahead and paired each of the twelve NFL playoff teams with the artists from the classic rock era that I feel they resemble the most. Before we get started, I want to mention one thing: You’ll notice that The Beatles are nowhere on this list. This is for two reasons: 1) The Beatles are normally not on lists like this one due to the fact that they popularized rock n’ roll, therefore they can’t really be compared to any other classic rock artists; and 2) No NFL teams are currently flawless enough to be The Beatles. To be perfectly honest with you, I’m not even sure that the Joe Montana-led teams of the eighties were even up to Beatles caliber. So we aren’t going to be classifying any of these teams at the Fab Four, although shortly thereafter is where we will start off. These are your 2014-2015 playoff teams and this is the music they make.
New England Patriots – Led Zeppelin
It would be dishonest if I sat here and typed that any other NFL team would be represented by what is essentially the greatest hard rock band of all time. The New England Patriots are in the process of trying to win their fourth NFL championship, so it’s only fitting that this finely tuned machine would be getting ready to put together their “Runes” album. It would be their fourth Lombardi trophy in the Brady era, and it would prove to serve them a stairway to heaven when it comes to NFL legend. It’s not a hundred percent accurate (“Four Sticks” wouldn’t have lost to the Chiefs by 27…) but I’m sure Led Zeppelin had a couple shows every tour where Bonham had more than a few Shirley Temples and wasn’t on top of his game. They are the true definition of a classic football team. Tom Brady would be your Robert Plant, ensuring that since he’s been loving you the NFL has become more popular than ever. Gronk is your Jimmy Page, full of the riffs and nastiness that turned Marshall amplification systems into one of the biggest audio manufacturing companies of all time. Bill Belichick? No question…John Bonham for sure. Speaks softly but carries a very large stick, and is always up to no good. But who would be bassist John Paul Jones? No one player in particular…It would be whoever the Pats are using as their weekly secret weapon. A good example would be the two hundred yard day Jonas Gray had against the Colts in week eleven. Their only faults lie in aspects of the game that are easily correctable. Let’s hope that for the sake of good television that they can stay out of the liquor cabinet when it really counts.
Seattle Seahawks – Black Sabbath
A lot of people will tell you they love Black Sabbath because they are fans of Ozzy. Others will tell you that they love Tony’s demonic chord patterns, or simply state that the argument could be made that Black Sabbath pretty much invented heavy metal. These are all valid arguments, but the real reason that you like Sabbath is the same reason that you love watching the Seahawks play defense: Both of those things are evil. We have a bit of a fascination with evil in this country. We love horror movies, romanticize serial killers and terrorists, and while Scandinavia exports most all of the worthwhile black metal that is available – we’re the ones who buy it. So it’s not the least bit weird that we enjoy a team who are basically the serial killers of the NFL. When that defense steps onto the field, they make opposing offenses “Paranoid” to say the very least. So much to the degree that it almost seems like the Legion of Boom “Sold their souls for rock n’ roll”. Richard Sherman is Ozzy Osbourne, a loud and sometimes unintelligible but always outspoken guy who is one of the best in the world as what he does. I would have to say Geezer Butler’s first name fits in with the likes of Pete Carroll, as both of those dudes are getting up there in years. Black Sabbath wasn’t all that evil away from the subject matter, and every team full of controversial characters has a good side. This would be the Russell Wilson, and if Bill Ward wasn’t being such a dick about the reunion I’d say he was that guy but I’m thinking with his calm demeanor he’s almost like Tony more than anybody.
Denver Broncos – Pink Floyd
Peyton Manning is a living legend. He’s going to go down in history as one of the greatest (and smartest) quarterbacks to ever play the game. Regardless of what your take is on his less than Tom Bradylike postseason reliability, last year’s regular season was his “Dark Side of the Moon”. Nearly flawless, Manning rolled through the playoffs only to get thumped by Black Sabbath when he got to the “Great Gig in the Sky” back in February. Much like other rock bands that have faded through the years, there is some debate as to when Pink Floyd actually jumped the shark. The most lenient take is that there is no need for anything after “The Division Bell” was released, a belief that I would refute because “High Hopes” is a prime cut. Then there’s the most popular angle, that everything after Roger Waters left is a sham. This one I get a little bit, because although I love “Animals”, “Learning to Fly” off of “A Momentary Lapse of Reason” is hardly their best work and features one of the most awful guitar sounds in the history of recorded music. (If you ever fell hard enough for floor effects to the point where you actually bought any of that shit ZOOM put out in the nineties but eventually outgrew it, you’ll know perfectly well what I’m talking about.) And then there’s the uber-hipster theory that everything which occurred in the Pink Floyd landscape after Syd Barrett left the band. That’s just insane. Although “Apples and Oranges” is a fantastic piece of music, that’s basically just a Screeching Weasel song when compared to “Shine on You Crazy Diamond”. But one of the things that is constant about all of these takes is that we can all agree their later material is not what we love most about Pink Floyd. A lot of people feel the same way about Manning when it comes to his performance in huge playoff games. Very deserving of the first round bye given the body of work put forth by both corresponding parts.
Green Bay Packers – Iron Maiden
I have to assign Iron Maiden to the Green Bay Packers because when that team is firing on all cylinders, they have the rest of the NFC running for the hills. Another reason that this is a perfect band for the Packers to represent is because there are six of them. Aaron Rodgers is your Bruce Dickinson, the fearless helicopter pilot of this potent offense. He steers this air device into prime position where any of his targets can be reached at any given time. He’s got so many weapons as his disposal it should remind everybody of Maiden. Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb are the Dave Murray and Steve Harris of Bruron Dickingers’ arsenal, always available to break through this “Brave New World” of NFL defenses for big plays and huge payoffs. Rodgers gave football fans in Wisconsin a little “Piece of Mind” when he told them to relax, a message that is going to be legend of “Killers” if they can go all the way and win this thing. But they’re going to need to dial up the number of the beast and make a deal with the devil if they have to go through Seattle.
Arizona Cardinals – Van Halen
Much like Van Halen did the very same thing out of the Los Angeles club scene in the late 1970s, the Arizona Cardinals came out of the box screaming. They won eight out of their first nine games, and at the time it looked like we were about to the get three decades worth of “Panama” and “Hot for Teacher”. We all know what happened to Van Halen: The second they lost their lead singer, it all went to hell. Although Carson Palmer likely does not possess the same abilities that David Lee Roth has when it came to banging groupies or getting popped for buying a dimebag in Washington Square, he was quite the showman when the game was on the line and kept that ship going until he was declared out of the year. When that happened, Drew Stanton became Sammy Hagar, and a lot of “OU812” quality play followed shortly thereafter. The regulars are still holding strong – Cornerback Patrick Peterson is definitely the Eddie of this outfit, as his skills are among the top of the league when it comes to defending the pass. Larry Fitzgerald has some powerful legs so he would be Alex, a comparison which also works because he’s been there since the beginning of time. And of course I could make a few Gary Cherone/Ryan Findlay jokes at this point, but when it’s all said and done I have a feeling that we’re never going to need to remember either of those individuals for any reason. “Right Now”, there’s nobody else in the league who looks like more of a “one and done” in the NFL postseason than the Arizona Van Halens.
Detroit Lions – KISS
I get that this probably seems like the easiest way out of this one, seeing as how KISS does have a song called “Detroit Rock City”, but hear me out. Detroit plays it off like they are very hardcore. If they were in a band, that group probably would paint their faces and spew fake blood while playing instruments shaped like giant knives. Look, I know the Lions are the best team in the league when it comes to stopping the run. I stand up to guys who bash Matthew Stafford because I think that at times he looks like an elite QB. But that’s precisely the type of ruse that the Lions want to you to buy: That they are the hottest band on earth. But in fact, they are really just a defense full of dirty players that still hasn’t grown up over the past few years. And the reason that Stafford throws for sometimes 55 or more passes a night is of course due to the fact that the Lions have no running game at all. In other words, they have to wear that makeup to cover up all their inconsistencies. They think they are this “Destroyer”, but in reality they are just a bunch of “Beth”s. Gene Simmons has said time and time again that everything in the world which can have a KISS logo on it should have a KISS logo on it, it’s that type of capitalism that once made Detroit great. But we can’t all be winners, and only one of these “Creatures of the night” will end up winning the Super Bowl.
Cincinnati Bengals – Metallica
Throughout the year, the Cincinnati Bengals have had a couple of really great showings that have reminded me of highlights from Metallica’s career. They shutout the Browns in an absolute slaughter in Cleveland, fancy that their “Ride the Lightning” piece. And if that’s the case, you know that the New Orleans game resembled “Master of Puppets”. But with the good comes the bad, just like when the band decided to do an album with Lou Reed. The 27-0 Week seven loss against the Colts could be played over that game in front of a bar full of Bengals fans and it wouldn’t feel wrong at all. While their previous records suffered in quality after the Black Album came out, a lot of metal fans thought that they had won it back with with the release of “St. Anger” in 2003. Still a lot of die hard fans couldn’t make up their mind about that disc, much in the way that the NFL has continued to let ties occur so let’s compare that one to the 37-37 tie that the Bengals played the Panthers to in week six. I liken the games they played which were somewhere between “below average” and “meh” to all of those middle of the road covers that Metallica did way too many of in the nineties like Bob Seger’s “Turn the Page”, The Misfits “Die, Die, My Darling” and the Irish drinking classic “Whiskey in the Jar”. We’ll see if they end up dropping a “Load” when they play Indianapolis in the first round, as that’s a very realistic possibility. I might look like a dumbass for typing this when they’re selected to be the halftime entertainment at next year’s Super Bowl, but that probably won’t happen and even if it does it’s doubtful Andy Dalton will need to drown out their performance and focus on Marvin Lewis’ Super Bowl Halftime speech.
Indianapolis Colts – Rush
Rush is probably one of the most technically fluent bands in the world. All three of its members are among the best in the world at what they do, and they are masters of their craft. In other words, they look exactly like what Andrew Luck has when his game is complete. He represents a franchise player, much in the way that Rush represents Canada but he still pays a dollar less for magazines. The Colts are very textbook, and do very little work off of the cuff. I would assume that if you like to screw around in practice, that’s the last team you want to be on. I would assume that if there were more people involved with the band, that would also be the case. But listen, we all have a few things about Rush that may annoy us from time to time. Geddy’s voice is too high, the rest of the instruments are very brainy, and “Free Will” is the last thing that you want to hear hungover when you’re headed to the foundry to pull a double. They are one of the most technically gifted bands on this list, but sometimes it’s too much. The Colts seem like they can beat Metallica in the first round, but when they have to reckon with the likes of Led Zeppelin as much as I love “Subdivisions” that shit is simply not going to cut it. There’s always been something about Rush that I can’t put my finger on unless it’s to change the radio station…They’re left field, but not extreme to the point where they’re Primus left field so it’s hard to accept what they’re doing as you go about your daily life. When they miss, it’s embarrassing no matter how technologically sound it might look on paper.
Dallas Cowboys – ZZ Top
It’s probably not all that shocking that I would use a band that looks like Yosemite Sam had twins to correlate with a team with a star on its helmet that is owned by the richest hillbilly this side of the grave containing Anna Nicole Smith’s husband. The threesome of Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, and DeMarco Murray make for a perfect match to the baddest little bearded band to ever come out of Houston. Tony is Frank on the grounds that he seems to be the most well shaved even though Mr. Beard hardly runs the show. (This article seemed like it was going to be a lot easier when I started it…stay with me…) DeMarco Murray is Dusty Hill, pounding his bass or synth and doing a lot of the gruntwork. And what kind of NFL wide receiver wouldn’t want to be associated with the showman that is Billy Gibbons? When ZZ Top is making videos, their cheap dance moves and catchy flair almost seem like it is being choreographed by the ultimate redneck evil genius. Which is hilarious because while ZZ Top may have turned down an insane amount of money from Gillette numerous times between 1985 and 1990 to shave off their trademark chinpieces, if you told me tomorrow Jerry Jones owned the band’s entire catalog I’d probably believe you. ZZ Top was elected into the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2004, and deservedly so because those guys can straight jam out some old school blues rock like no other. But while it all looks like it’s good old fashioned comfort food, keep in mind we haven’t seen the Dallas Cowboys do much of anything majestic in the postseason for almost twenty years. This is similar to the way ZZ Top’s quality guitar-based rock had given way to the overproduced studio keyboard work that became popular in the late eighties and early nineties. When you hear the synths come in on “Velcro Fly” you just know there’s albums full of “Antenna” around the corner, and the glory days of classics such as “La Grange” were soon to be sent to purgatory. Romo has the receiving corps to revive those classics for the live show at your local ten thousand seat arena, but while they’re playing something off of their new album and you’re in the bathroom pissing out all of those Coors Lights he’s throwing interceptions that can destroy a quality postseason run. Cowboys fans will have to hope that the later stuff still contains gems such as “Under Pressure”, and that Tony Romo can produce under those kinds of conditions.
Pittsburgh Steelers – The Who
Perhaps the best way to describe the Pittsburgh Steelers is a team that just won’t go away. You want to love it, but at the same time you don’t want to be the guy who admits he’s obsessed with it. Such is the case with the music of The Who. Although it’s some of the most rockin’ music in history, you can’t deny that they took the concept album thing into something that developed into a Broadway musical. In other words, it’s not something that you get a bunch of your male friends to come over and listen to. Don’t get me wrong, all of its pieces can teach you some badass fundamentals when it comes to playing guitar, drums, or running a football team. Ben Roethlisberger would be your Roger Daltrey, although likely more humble and obviously less British. I suppose that the 2004 season in which Roethlisberger defied all odds and took a sixth seeded Wild Card team all the way to the Super Bowl would probably be the team’s “Tommy” moment, as that season played out in dramatic fashion and was quite operatic in many ways. Antonio Brown would be the Pete Townsend, serving of tons of classic licks that have made for a crazy career and a season where all of the other contenders for the receiving title were left in the dust. But the Who never fully recovered from the death of Keith Moon in 1978. They would continue to play landmark gigs – like for example the halftime show of Super Bowl XLIV – but without Moon’s bombastic drumming the band would never put out the same caliber of product. Consider Mike Tomlin to be the black Keith Moon in this scenario, as the man in control who knows how to maximize the skills of all the pieces in his own outfit. Hit hard, play hard, be legendary. Maybe the Terrible Towels that flood the landscape of Heinz Field are really just pinballs lost in the wizardry of Art Rooney, seemingly blind to the probability that Big Ben likely cannot be calibrated to bring home another Lombardi trophy. But you have to hand it to them for buying into it, just like The Who have convinced millions of rock fans to do throughout their eclectic history.
Carolina Panthers – Whitesnake
I’m not going to beat around the bush here: Whitesnake sucks. The only reason I have them listed as classic rock is because if you have to listen to those classic rock station feeds, at least once a day you’re going to have to sit through “Here I Go Again” which is the musical equivalent of having battery acid poured into your ears at knife point. It’s just a fucking horrible track. And if Whitesnake is classic rock, where are all of these classic rock records that they supposedly made? Where are all of the other classic rock radio hits that I am supposed to sit here and respect because they have been “at it for so long”? If you answered by mentioning that “In the Still of the Night” has a heavy riff as an exoskeleton, I get the origin of your argument but I’m also not pulling you out of a hospital fire because I trust God’s divine judgment. The Panthers have players who have made brief appearances that have tricked us into thinking they are for real, much like Steve Vai’s unspeakably intricate guitar playing tricked everyone who had a Guitar World subscription from 1989 to 1991 into thinking that we should give Whitesnake a chance when Nirvana was right around the goddamned corner. The moment where David Coverdale hits that high note in “Here I Go Again” was the moment that the Panthers put the division championship hats on, and for a brief second the American sports media actually had to pretend that they deserved it. A huge collective eyeroll was soon to follow until we saw who they were playing. Then we realized: “You know what the sad part is? Whitesnake is going to advance to the NFC divisional round”, much like they have undeservedly remained attached to classic rock streams into 2015. And it’s all because of how bad Van Halen has become. Ain’t life a bitch sometimes?
Baltimore Ravens – Deep Purple
Let’s be honest – the Baltimore Ravens are a tad boring. Their quarterback’s own father even said so about his son in the days leading up to Super Bowl XLVII, and I think that speaks volumes about how a lot of NFL fans outside of Maryland feel about them. Another group of guys who attained such volumes in the seventies would have to be Deep Purple, a constantly rotating circus of skilled musicians who inspired legions of musicians that would come after them. Personally I never bought a single Deep Purple record, and I will probably never purchase a Baltimore Ravens jersey either. Since Joe Flacco seems to have a playoff resume that one can’t really argue with, he would probably be the Richie Blackmore in this analogy. John Harbaugh would be your Ian Gillian in that he showed up at just the right time and inherited a great team, but enhanced it to the point where you’d be a dick if you didn’t give him credit for what he’s done. All that said, for some reason I can’t seem to shake that line from “Smoke on the Water” about how those guys watched the Montreux Casino burn to the ground. It kind of reminds me of how the rest of the NFL crumbled to bits two years ago when the Ravens won the Super Bowl two years ago. There are some times where I feel like anything that Flacco and the Ravens can do other teams can do better. So it’s no surprise that my favorite version of “Highway Star” was actually performed by Faith No More. There might end up being “Smoke on the Water” when they get burnt to a crisp by the Steelers Wild Card weekend to the point where they’ll be tossed into one of the three rivers that lie just outside Heinz Field.
It shouldn’t be much of a shocker to anybody who is a fan of heavy metal that the two teams I expect to represent each conference in the Super Bowl (the Seahawks and Patriots) are usually part of a debate between who is the greatest hard rock act of all time. The metalheads will tell you that the Seahawks will win this match-up hands down, but at the same time classic rock traditionalists will tell you that Zep can’t be beat on any level. So let’s just say it while we mean it, like Dubs does: Don’t we all want to see this game more than anything? As the musical debate over who’s better will rage for years, as long as we still have a couple more years of Tom Brady left I’d really like to see him play that Seahawks defense in a huge game. Let’s hope that’s how the playoffs play out, and here’s to rock n’ roll…
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