Nashville, Tenn. — Everything Kenny Chesney needed to know about dominating country music he learned from football.
Whether he's firing up the tour bus or heading into the studio, he uses the principles he learned while playing at Gibbs High School outside Knoxville. This epiphany came to Chesney while he was recording for his latest album, "Hemingway's Whiskey," and eventually grew into the documentary film "Boys of Fall," which airs on ESPN this Sunday.
"It's no different if you're playing football, if you're on the road like I am, if you're running a company," Chesney said. "Everybody's got to work together if they want to achieve something that's special."
Chesney's documentary started out as a simple video shoot for the single, "The Boys of Fall." He followed friend and New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton to the coach's hometown in Napierville, Ill., where Payton gave the season-opening pregame speech last year to his old high school team.
It was a special experience and Chesney started to think about all the sports figures he has become friends with over the years.
"That's when I thought it might be cool for me in my year off I took from the road to go around and talk to these people and see what we get," Chesney said. "It ended up being one of the best journeys of my life, and I think one of the most important things I've done in my career to this point."
Chesney's journey took him to places like Hattiesburg, Miss., where he had barbecue at Brett Favre's house, Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Austin, Texas. He met with the giants of the game — Bill Parcells, Peyton Manning, Nick Saban, Bobby Bowden, John Madden — but also spent time filming peewee players in Nashville.
There were fun moments: "John Madden cooked what is the equivalent of Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner together for us. He told me when I walked in there, 'When it comes to cooking I can take Brett Favre to the woodshed.'"
But he also came away with experiences that had a larger impact on him than he could ever imagine.
"Listening to those guys talk about the heart of and the emotions and everything that goes into loving people and living life and trying to get the most out of it and how it all relates to football, it stops and makes you think and look at your own life," Chesney said. "And sometimes I'm too busy. I don't do that."
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