Messier. Melo. ARod (the baseball version).
They are three New York athletes who know all about pressure and have said at one point, that’s “My Life.”
But when the pressure of “playing” in the Big Apple is discussed – as it has been incessantly since the latest NYC “ARod,” Aaron Rodgers, signed with the New York Jets – there’s one man who wrote the
book song on it: Billy Joel.
So, with tonight’s season debut of Monday Night Football kicking off in New York (well, technically in New Jersey but, you get the point) as the Jets host the Buffalo Bills, Monday Night Countdown’s Michelle Beisner-Buck and producer Jon Fish sought out Joel to understand, with “Honesty,” why New York pressure is like no other sports town’s.
“I am a guy who likes music,” said Fish. “There is no one more New York than Billy Joel and, by the way, he has the perfect song and he’s also performed at Madison Square Garden nearly 150 times. No one knows pressure in New York like Billy.”
Well, no one, maybe except for Rodgers, who hopes “This is the Time” to end Gang Green’s 50-plus year Super Bowl drought.
“There really is no better person that can speak to the pressure and the expectations of performing on the biggest stage in the world, New York City, than the Piano Man himself, Billy Joel,” said Beisner-Buck. “What an honor to sit with a true New York, and legendary performer as he candidly gave us his New York state of mind.”
With the help from ESPN’s music department, Joel agreed to sit down with Monday Night Countdown on Sunday, just after his sound-check prior to the 94th show of his Madison Square Garden residency – and his 140th show ever at the iconic venue.
“Billy Joel’s music has been the soundtrack to my life,” said Beisner-Buck. “And now my five-year-old sons sing ‘Uptown Girl’ while we make dinner.”
Although Joel said he can’t imagine what it’ll be like for Rodgers – he will not be “The Stranger” under center – when he takes the field on Monday night. But according to Joel, “he knows what he is doing.”
So do Mark Messier, Carmelo Anthony and Alex Rodriguez, who for extended phases of their respective storied careers, excelled under pressure for the hometown New York City fan base. Messier and Rodriguez, ESPN NHL and MLB analysts, respectively, and Anthony were interviewed for the Monday Countdown feature.
“It is Monday Night Football. There is no bigger stage than this with the Jets and Bills playing,” said Fish. “You have these New York athletes who dealt with all the pressures of New York, and you have the voice of New York – the soundtrack of New York, in Billy Joel.”
Tonight, Jets fans get to find out if “This is the Time.”
The full feature will air on ESPN’s Monday Night Countdown (6-8 p.m. ET, ESPN), just before the Bills and Jets meet on ESPN’s Monday Night Football. For more information, visit ESPN Press Room.