An under-appreciated aspect of NFL fan culture are the abundance of fan-made rap songs celebrating their favorite teams. These range from bizarre, semi-ironic tailgating boasts to the occasional chart-topping platinum hit record—but their unifying element is the celebration of the glory of being a fan of [insert team/player here]. It’s a natural combination: Braggadocio is built into both hip-hop and fan cultures, and declaring your team to be the best just feels comfortable in 16 bars with some well-placed rhymes over a hot beat.
With all that in mind, it’s obvious that the first entrant into the 2014 NFL Season Fan-Made Rap Battle would come a month before training camp starts—and highlight a man for whom braggadocio would be his middle name, if his middle name weren’t already “F***ing.” Thus we have “Johnny Cleveland (Wreck This League)” by the little-known Cleveland-based rap group The Aubrey Taylor Experiment, a four-minute banger that boasts about how the appearance of Johnny Manziel-Football-Cleveland will change the one-time Factory of Sadness into a—well, listen to it for yourself:
The song essentially builds a folk tale of Johnny Football (“more like Johnny Cleveland”) and his journey “from a small Texas town” (“man, can you believe it?”) to the point at which “he’s gonna wreck this league.” It’s a fitting bit of mythologizing for a player whose persona and college career has lent itself nicely to that, and the song does a fine job of highlighting the travails of the Cleveland Browns over the decades (it opens with a sample of the in-game commentary from “The Fumble,” when a Browns running back choked away a playoff game by fumbling on the 2-yard-line) in order to posit that Johnny Cleveland (a name they’ve eagerly saddled him with in this song at least in part because it rhymes with “believing”) is the solution to their woes.
Of course, only time (and the status of star wide receiver Josh Gordon) will tell if the saga of “Johnny Cleveland (Wreck This League)” turns out to be a brash-but-effective prediction of the success that the Cleveland Browns and Johnny Manziel will have in the fall, a la “The Super Bowl Shuffle,” or if it’ll be a bold, and ultimately embarrassing, bust along the lines of “Let’s Ram It.” But the summer is a time of hope for every fan of every team, and putting that hope on wax is one of the funnier dumb things a fan can do to support their team.