Eagles belt holiday hits on ‘Philly Special Christmas’ album

Dec 14, 2022, 6:31 PM | Updated: Dec 15, 2022, 12:05 pm

War on Drugs drummer Charlie Hall poses in Philadelphia, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022. Hall teamed up wi...

War on Drugs drummer Charlie Hall poses in Philadelphia, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022. Hall teamed up with several members of the Philadelphia Eagles football team and other musicians to record the seven-song LP "A Philly Special Christmas." Proceeds from this record will benefit Children's Crisis Treatment Center and other charities in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The burly, bearded men belting out holiday classics have made the night before Christmas more than just a time this year to watch the Philadelphia Eagles try and slay the competition.

Lane Johnson, Jason Kelce and Jordan Mailata — with a little assist from some melodic teammates — have made a season already pretty jolly in Philly a bit more sweet-sounding with the release of their Christmas album, “A Philly Special Christmas.”

Yes, the album title is an ode to Old Saint Nick, in this case former QB Nick Foles and the trick play that helped the Eagles win their only Super Bowl in the 2017 season.

The trio of Eagles offensive lineman can sing about as well as they can pass protect — Johnson might not even let Santa Claus down the chimney as he holds the record for most consecutive games without allowing a sack — and an All-Star cast of musicians was assembled to record the album.

Leading the charge was Charlie Hall, drummer for the Grammy-winning band War on Drugs.

“If we’re going to do this, let’s make it meaningful. Let’s make it awesome,” Hall said. “It’s not a goof.”

While the tone is light, this is no novelty record.

“Oh, football players making a record, it’s like ‘Super Bowl Shuffle,'” Hall said with a laugh. “But no, this was born out of sincerity and a deep love and appreciation of music.”

The cover art features Johnson, Kelce and Mailata sketched in an homage to the Peanuts characters on the “A Charlie Brown Christmas” album and the songs are standards found on Christmas playlists.

“I did not think it was going to get to this level of quality,” Kelce said.

The guys in green sing “White Christmas,” ” Blue Christmas,” “Silent Night” and Eagles radio announcer Merrill Reese narrates “The Night Before Christmas.”

On the field, the Eagles play the Dallas Cowboys Dec. 24.

There’s a philanthropical slant to the album as well, with proceeds going to the Children’s Crisis Treatment Center in Philadelphia. More than $100,000 has already been raised.

Good luck buying the album, though.

Well, at least a vinyl copy, as previous pressings have quickly sold out. The last batch sold out in 120 seconds — some albums are going for $4,000 on eBay — and there’s one final order available on Friday. “A Philly Special Christmas” is of course available on streaming services and one song a week has been dropped each Friday leading to the full record’s release on Dec. 23.

The idea for an album was kicked around last year by Kelce and friends around last Christmas and former Eagle Connor Barwin used his music connections – War on Drugs have headlined the former defensive end’s charity show – to get the ball rolling. The album was recorded over several days at various Philadelphia-area studios this past summer.

“It’s 98 degrees and we’re recording a Christmas album,” Kelce said, wearing a Christmas sweater, Eagles Santa hat and holding a beer, in a making-of video.

Barwin served as an executive producer. The seven-song LP from Vera Y Records also features musicians from The Hooters, Dr. Dog and 98-year-old saxophone player Marshall Allen of Sun Ra Arkestra.

The recording team brought in a vocal coach to assist the Eagles as they made the transition from the huddle to the studio.

“That was the lesson in all this, just being game for something,” Hall said. “They’re like, ‘yeah, show me what to do. Show me how to be better and I’ll do it.’ Just totally coachable.”

Kelce, who dressed as a Mummer during the Super Bowl parade and s ang the national anthem at a 76ers game last season, channeled his inner Bruce Springsteen for the classic “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”

Kelce bursts into laughter when the 25-year-old Mailata hits all the high notes of falsetto on the the ” I-I-I am dreaming of a white Christmas ” doo-wop part popularized by The Drifters.

“What Jordan did, you could call singing,” Kelce said. “What Lane did, you could call singing. I don’t know if you could call what I did singing. I’m very much just a yeller in certain tones.”

Mailata has the best pipes of the bunch and even competed on the Fox reality show ” The Masked Singer. “

“Jordan could straight up quit football and be a singer if he wanted to,” Hall said. “But they’re all great. Their voices are like a reflection of their personalities. Lane has this incredibly soulful voice. If they were to get out of this line of business, Jordan would have no trouble finding a gig singing.”

Hall already felt the holiday spirit with the War on Drugs set to play three-sold out ” Drugcember To Remember” charity shows next week at the Philly rock venue Johnny Brenda’s. The money raised goes toward The Fund for the School District of Philadelphia, a nonprofit that raises and coordinates investments into the Philadelphia public schools.

War on Drugs had just won a Grammy and were on tour in Australia in February 2018 when the Eagles beat the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.

“It was like 10 in the morning and we all crammed into a hotel room and were screaming and throwing chairs out of excitement,” Hall said.

Now they’re building Christmas traditions together.

“It’s sort of a beautiful reminder that we’re all just connected through life and music and friendship,” Hall said.


AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Ex-Packer Guion gets 1 year for domestic violence assault

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading no contest in a domestic violence assault at his home last fall. Brown County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Walsh also ordered Guion on Tuesday to serve three years’ probation and complete a domestic […]

1 year ago

Joe Jarzynka...

Associated Press

Durant eager for Suns debut vs. Hornets after knee injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Durant has been through quite a bit during his 15-year NBA career — but joining a new team midway through the season is a new one for the 13-time All-Star. The 34-year-old Durant doesn’t seem all that worried. Durant makes his highly anticipated Phoenix Suns debut on Wednesday night against […]

1 year ago

FILE - Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores stands on the sideline during the second half of an N...

Associated Press

Judge: NFL coach can press discrimination claims in court

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Coach Brian Flores can pursue some of his discrimination claims against the league and its teams in court rather than through arbitration, a judge ruled Wednesday. The written decision by Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan was issued months after lawyers for the league tried to get the lawsuit moved to […]

1 year ago

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock cools off in the first period during an NHL hockey game ...

Associated Press

Kane trade reinforces hard reality of Blackhawks rebuild

CHICAGO (AP) — After days of speculation, the harsh reality of the Chicago Blackhawks’ situation was reinforced by one move in a flurry of transactions ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Showtime is over, at least in Chicago, and a seemingly bright future is, well, way off in the distance. The reverberations of Chicago’s decision […]

1 year ago

FILE -  Yves Jean-Bart, president of the Haitian Football Federation, wearing a protective face mas...

Associated Press

Disgraced ex-Haitian soccer president announces he’s back

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s former soccer federation president whose lifetime ban from sport over sexual abuse allegations was overturned last month announced Wednesday that he is reclaiming his position. Yves Jean-Bart’s defiant announcement could lead to a standoff with FIFA, which already has appointed an emergency management committee to lead the Haitian Football Association […]

1 year ago

FILE - Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after an NFL football game against the ...

Associated Press

Rodgers says decision on future will come ‘soon enough’

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers says he will make a decision on his future “soon enough” as the four-time MVP quarterback ponders whether to play next season and if his future remains with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers, 39, discussed his future while speaking on an episode of the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” that […]

1 year ago

Eagles belt holiday hits on ‘Philly Special Christmas’ album