October 19, 2022
As the old adage goes, musicians want to be athletes and athletes wish they could be musicians. Now, thanks to the help of several Philadelphia artists, Eagles players Jason Kelce, Lane Johnson and Jordan Mailata can say they are both.
The offensive linemen, who enjoy singing together in the locker room during the NFL season, are releasing a Christmas album called "A Philly Special Christmas" on Dec. 23. The name is a nod to the captivating trick play – a reverse touchdown pass – by Nick Foles during the Eagles 2018 Super Bowl win over the New England Patriots.
The seven-song LP features a ton of musicians, including Lady Alma, Marshall Allen, Zach Miller, Robbie Bennett and Nick Krill. Some of the players' teammates also joined in on the fun, such as Jalen Hurts, AJ Brown, Brandon Graham, Haason Reddick, and Jordan Davis.
The first single, "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)," will be released on Nov. 25. Some of the other tracks include takes on popular holiday classics like "Silent Night," "The Night Before Christmas" and "Santa Clause is Coming to Town."
War on Drugs drummer Charlie Hall produced the album, and former Eagles linebacker Connor Barwin gets an executive producer's credit. Barwin, who is friends with Hall, reached out to him with the idea.
"Earlier this year, Jason Kelce got it in his mind to make something special for Philly and has assembled a group of teammates to make a Christmas record," said Hall. "This will be something very special that will bring lots of joy to many people in Philly and beyond."
Barwin, who is the director of player development for the Birds, said it was great to see the intersection of the sports world and music scene during the collaboration.
Mailata noted how the process brought the teammates together as they reminisced on what Christmas meant to them growing up, but his favorite part was learning that his teammates could actually carry a tune.
"I hope we bring people together with this album the same way that it brought us closer together," Mailata said.
Mailata, a seventh-round draft pick in 2018, is known to have some talent as a singer. He famously belted out Chris Stapleton's Tennesse Whiskey during a team meeting last year.
Kelce, who has his own musical background as a baritone saxophonist at his Ohio high school, said that what started as a fun idea rooted in raising money for charity eventually became something bigger.
"This project ended up becoming one of the most enjoyable and delightful experiences I've ever been a part of," Kelce said. "How all of this came together, the people, the music, the joy, was incredible. From our first meeting, you could feel the happiness and energy from everyone. The amount of people who were willing to give their skill, time, and spirit has been inspiring. At some point, we all realized this is going to be really great, which exceeded any of our expectations going in."
All proceeds from the project will be donated to the Children's Crisis Treatment Center in Philadelphia.
The album is being released on Vera Y Records, named after Kelce's daughter Wyatt and Barwin's daughter Vera. It was recorded at Rittenhouse Soundworks, Silent Partners, and Elm St. studios.
"A Philly Special Christmas" will be available for preorder on iTunes starting Oct. 29. There also will be 1,000 copies of a limited edition vinyl record sold in late November. Interested fans should sign up on the album's website for updates.
Check out the full track list for the album below: