BY: BRENDAN DUGGAN
If the start of the NFL season wasn’t enough for you, Monday Night Football just got a little bit more exciting.
Last week, ESPN announced a deal to make Drake the music curator for ten Monday Night Football games this season. Drake will select music for the NFL season’s “promotional spots, live telecasts and pre-game shows,” that will include Drizzy’s latest music, some of his classics, along with music from selected artists who capture the “energy and mood” of MNF.
The announcement comes a week after Drake released his highly-anticipated sixth studio album, Certified Lover Boy. The Canadian rapper revealed the release date on an episode of SportsCenter on August 27, exactly one week before the album dropped. Since then, Drake made Billboard 100 history as the first artist to own nine of the top ten positions in the company’s 62-year history.
Drake’s vast relationships with professional athletes span several sports and generations. Drizzy has long-tenured friendships with top athletes like LeBron James and Kevin Durant, as well as young prodigies like Bronny James and Mikey Williams. A courtside season ticket holder in Toronto, Drake and his contagious energy helped bring the Raptors their first-ever championship in 2019.
As far as the NFL, Drake’s relationship with Odell Beckham Jr. landed the Cleveland WR in his 2020 music video, “Laugh Now, Cry Later,” which took place at Nike’s HQ in Oregon. Perhaps an MNF partnership will bring more NFL athletes Drake’s way, and his influence could one day bring an NFL team to Toronto. From ESPN’s perspective, Vice President of Sports Marketing Emeka Ofodile credits Drake as an artist who “sits firmly at the intersection of music and sports.”
As far as the deal itself, the one-year, ten-game partnership comes after ESPN hired artists Diplo and DJ Khaled in 2019 and 2020, respectively. Although the announcement did not include details of the contract, both Drake and ESPN will benefit from this partnership.
For ESPN, Drake’s Certified Lover Boy sold 604,000 copies in the first week, the most commercially successful album since Taylor Swift’s 2020 album Folklore. Additionally, Drake’s presence as an artist and entertainer brings excitement to the start of the NFL season. Lastly, Drake’s connections and musical expertise brings NFL fans closer to the cultural experience of watching MNF.
For Drake, ESPN’s Monday Night Football is one of the most-watched programs in the country. Monday’s Ravens-Raiders matchup brought in 15.3 million viewers, the most MNF viewers since week one of 2013. Drake’s album will continue to be played and associated with the start of the season, which fans have been patiently waiting seven months for.
As Drake continues to bridge the gap between music, sports, and culture, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the chart-topping rapper in the booth for special guest appearances. With the NFL back in action with packed stadiums full of excited fans, a partnership with #1 artist Drake is a mutually beneficial match made in heaven.
Brendan Duggan is a 1L at Brooklyn Law School. He is also the founder of Sideline Views, a sports and entertainment multimedia brand. You can follow him at @SidelineDuggs.