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Football & funk: What the Seahawks like to listen to when they play

DJ Toby Fresh spins songs at VMAC (Photo courtesy of Toby Fresh)

At Seahawks training camp, there’s more to the ear than just cheering and chanting. The team has its own personal DJ on staff to blast music out onto the field for training camp, practices and warmups for home games.

“Russell likes to hear Michael Jackson. Sherman likes to hear funk. Percy Harvin, he likes East Coast, like Jadakiss, stuff like that,” says the Seahawks DJ, Toby Fresh. “Last year, obviously, they all wanted to hear Rick Ross, ‘Can’t Hold Me Back.’ That was big. Every time I played that, you’d see them get really big, animated, excited. Their eyes would get really big, sparkly.”

Toby Fresh has been the Seahawks’ DJ since 2004, and besides playing the player’s favorite songs, he takes many requests from music-loving Coach Pete Carroll.

“He wants to hear funk and he wants to hear the Gap Band and he wants to hear Funkadelic, James Brown. James Brown is his favorite. One time he came up and he requested a specific song off ‘James Brown Live at the Apollo.’ ‘Track Seven, go.’ [I’m like] I don’t know if I have this song. I don’t know if I have this song. I was buggin’ out. I looked and I was like, ‘Please, please have this song.’ I typed it in and it was there, luckily.”

Marshawn Lynch has been known to march to the beat of his own drum and, according to Toby, he also dances to the beat of his own song.

“Marshawn Lynch has a song that somebody made for him, one of his friends in the Bay Area made a song for him, it’s called ‘Beast Mode.’ I asked him before, I was like, ‘Yo, Marshawn what do you want me to play?’ He’s like, ‘You got my song, man.’ [laughs] Like, okay, I’ll just play your song.”

For Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin, the morning of a game day starts in his earbuds with something chill by Otis Redding. Then right before each and every game:

“I always listen to this song called, ‘Something About that Name Jesus’ by Kirk Franklin. Music to me is very powerful. The game of football is very mental so I use that to my benefit when I’m listening to it on game day. My mom, she actually got me that CD when I was about 10 or 12. So I’ve been listening to that CD ever since then.”

The music is not only intended to be fun, it’s also part of a bigger strategy.

“The strategy is basically, you want to have a distraction in the background, right?” Doug explains. “And it’s making you focus on the task at hand with chaos around you. That’s Pete’s philosophy: he wants us to be the best in the worst situation.”

For Seahawks defensive end Greg Scruggs, music came before football.

“For me, music is near and dear to me. I didn’t play football until I was a senior in high school because I was in the marching band. So I just like music, period. Any type of music that has a meaning to it, any kind of music that can move me. I can listen to classical music and get excited. I can listen to country music and get excited.”

I would love to see football players warming up to Beethoven.

The point of the music is to bring energy and enthusiasm, so the team can play at their fiercest, which is why Toby Fresh isn’t needed after a game, especially if the Seahawks lose.

“What would you play? Like, ‘It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye?’ What would you play after they lose? That’s horrible. ‘Another One Bites the Dust?'”

Click here for a link to a couple of Toby Fresh’s recent playlists.

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