Ever since the days when Skee-lo wished he was a baller, it's been a universally accepted truism: Every rapper wants to be an athlete, and every athlete wants to be a rapper. On the other hand, Skee-Lo also expressed his somewhat more baffling wish for "a rabbit in a hat with a bat and a six four Impala," a code scientists have yet to entirely crack. Still, it was right around the same time that Shaquille O'Neal proved the other half of that equation with his egregiously misguided rap album Diesel, which asserted Shaq's knowledge of his own skillz but failed to convince anyone else.
Of the two sides, athletes have been either more or less successful in their crossover endeavors, depending on how you define "success." Which is to say that if your definition is "It happened," then yes. The history of rap efforts by athletes is a lengthy one that includes such luminaries as Deion Sanders, Allen Iverson and the entire 1985 lineup of the Chicago Bears. Any athlete with a lot of money can hire a producer and say words into a microphone. For rappers, however, there's unfortunately no amount of money you can pay the NFL to let you be a running back or whatever, though it would undeniably be pretty awesome if you could.
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Rappers' athletic dreams, then, have been primarily confined to video games. And, in the case of Lil Wayne, to talking about sports, writing about sports and rapping about sports. His latest mixtape, Sorry 4 the Wait, is packed with sports references, and before he went to jail for eight months, he was even writing a blog for ESPN.com about sports. (When Denver went up against his home city of New Orleans in the 2009 playoffs, he called the Nuggets "the deepest team in the league — not the best, but the deepest." Those were the days, amiright?)
So let's just say for the sake of fairness that some rappers maybe have more than shriveled dreams invested in sports. It still doesn't make EA Sports' recent pandering bid to a variety of rappers any less weird. In advance of the August 30 release of the four-hundred-billionth edition of Madden NFL, the video-game maker employed the somewhat unorthodox strategy of sending what it called "VIP kits," complete with Monster headphones and gold-embossed PS3s, to "select influencers," most of whom are evidently prominent rappers: 50 Cent, Bow Wow and the aforementioned Wayne made the list. Sadly, noted sports fan Huey Lewis did not.
EA Sports designer Alex Howell explained the move thus: "It's something, especially if you're an artist and you're traveling on the bus and on tours — what are you doing most of the time?" Oh, I don't know, reading? Playing backgammon? "You're going to be playing video games all the time."
Well, shit, if that's the case, Lil Wayne, we'll do you one better: When you stop through town this week for the KS-107.5 Back to School Jam, maybe just go ahead and join the Nuggets. Lord knows their prospects couldn't look much worse.