SHANE VEREEN: TRUMPETS AND TOUCHDOWNS
BY MATT COHEN
Long before he was one of the most feared pass-catching running backs in the National Football League, Shane Vereen was just another middle school kid learning to play an instrument in the school band.
"I played the trumpet in 7th and 8th grade," Vereen said. "I didn't even want to be in it but then they put me in because I needed an elective. I tried to get out and then my mom made me stay in.
At least he got to pick his own instrument.
"I started with the clarinet, but then I decided this was weak, I need to move to a cooler instrument," Vereen laughed. "So then it was between saxophone, trombone and trumpet. Then between those two the trumpet had less buttons, so I went with that."
Vereen ultimately traded in his sheet music for a playbook, but his love of music has endured, something else he owes to mom (and dad).
"I grew up listening to Earth Wind and Fire, Kool & the Gang and The Gap Band because my parents listened to it," said Vereen. "A lot of my radio stations are the older type stuff. In the mornings that's all I listen to coming in is just oldies."
The 26-year-old Vereen is a five-year NFL veteran – four seasons in New England and now in his first year with the Giants. When it comes to music, the Valencia, California native hasn't lost his West Coast roots.
"I'm always a West Coast guy so I like a lot of the West Coast rappers like Kendrick Lamar, The Game who just came out with a new record - just West Coast stuff is what I lean towards," said Vereen.
It's easy to tell on which days of the weeks the Giants have practice. Just listen hard enough, and you can hear the music blasting from the team's locker room.
"There's always music being played. I mean, it's like a dance party in here before practice. It kind of just depends on who puts the music on first," Vereen joked.
It's not a big revelation that pro athletes, especially football players, listen to music before a practice or a big game. For Vereen though, it's now impossible to separate the two.
"Whenever I hear music, even just driving around on a normal day I automatically think about football and making plays. It just gives me that train of thought," said Vereen.
It wasn't his mother this time who pushed Vereen to pick up an instrument. It was his girlfriend, Taylor. During the last offseason, she got Vereen his very first keyboard. Unlike his two years playing trumpet in the middle school band, Vereen plans to stick with it this time.
Even now, Vereen says he wishes he had never given it up in the first place.
"In hindsight I would've kept learning how to play instruments," said Vereen. "I would've stuck with the trumpet and learned one more instrument, maybe two."