That Kenny Chesney is always full of surprises. For instance, who knew the multi-platinum country superstar used to don a football helmet long before his trademark Stetsons? Well, now you know if you've seen his new video and single, "Boys Of Fall" (off his upcoming disc Hemingway's Whiskey, due out September 28), which the singer co-produced along with an upcoming documentary about the sport from the same name. So, what's the back story? Chesney explained what's behind his latest inspiration -- and how he almost made another career choice -- when I caught up with him last week.
UsMagazine.com: Tell Us about the making of this documentary. You shot scenes for the film and then used pieces for a music video?
Kenny Chesney: Well, actually it's kind of the other way around. We started making the video and I kind of had in my mind what I wanted to do and what I wanted this video to be. For us to do the video the way I wanted to do it, we had to start filming last football season, and we've been working on this ever since then. The first thing we shot was Sean Payton talking to his team where he went to high school. He gave the pre-game speech. After I saw that, I started thinking about all of the friends that I've met in football in my years touring. That's where we got the idea to make the documentary.
Us: What is the genesis of the song "Boys of Fall"?
KC: It was one of the first songs that I recorded for my new record that's coming out in September. The song described a lot of what was my reality in East Tennessee where I grew up -- a lot of small towns that revolve around the game of football. When we talked to all of these people who have meant so much to the game of football and that have shaped lives for generations, the one question I asked them was 'What would you say to kids?' Every one of them talked about dreaming and dreaming big.
Us: In the video, there's a picture of you in high school in your football uniform!
KC: Yeah, that was me! I'm still not sure which picture you're talking about but a lot of those pictures were taken my last week of playing football. I knew I wasn't going to play major college football. I only played two years, and I say this in the film. But I didn't realize the impact that those two years were going to have on the rest of my life and how I approach my life as an adult and the way I run my business as far as setting goals and working hard.
Us: When did you know that you wanted to be a singer, not a football player?
KC: I knew I wasn't going to be a football player even when I was playing. I was vertically challenged. I'm 5'6" on a good day.
Us: What was it like sitting down with your football heroes?
KC: Some of these people I knew, some of them I didn't. I had never met Brett Favre in my life. But Brett and me will be friends forever now. He was just like the guys in my family, the guys I grew up with. When I landed in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, I'd never met him. I had his number and we were texting back and forth getting this interview set up. When I landed, I said 'What's for dinner?' just joking with him. I got nothing back. I was like 'Uh-oh, I pissed Brett Favre off.' I got home and I sent him a message that said I was just kidding, just joking and still got nothing back. So we made it to his house, we did the interview, and after we got done with the interview, he said 'I want you guys to come in here.' And there were about 30 of us in this film crew. We go into his house and the reason he didn't text me back was because he had gone and gotten a barbecue dinner for all of us. It was a crazy twist where all of a sudden we're in Brett Favre's house eating.
Us: Our readership is a lot of women who don't quite get football. How do you explain your love for it and why do guys go crazy for it?
KC: I think there are a lot of women who do love football. If you look at the demographic of people who watch ESPN, it's not just guys. Look at the people that report it. There are more female reporters on there than there are guys. But for somebody who doesn't get [the game], they may understand the core values of this song and what it means to people who grew up in a small town. I don't think I have to explain the game to them and why it matters -- either you love it or you don't. If they grew up like I did, they will at least get the fact that there are a lot of towns that really rely on the love of their team and they lean on them. I think that’s something that's really universal.
Us: Have you had that problem with women in your life in the past where you're watching a game and you're trying to explain it to them?
KC: No. Usually everybody I date understands it.