Rap Legend Rakim Reveals His NFL Dreams 

At SITE Santa Fe in New Mexico last week, hip hop pioneers Chuck D and Rakim sat down in front of a live audience to discuss the God MC’s memoir, Sweat The Technique.


Rakim’s Dad provided much of the inspiration for his sports ambition.

“I used to go hard working out for quarterbacks to reach the next level,” Raki explained. “I remember before the season started, like two or three weeks out, I would start running to the high school. You want everybody to see you running down the street, you feel important, like, ‘There goes Ra getting ready for the season.’ I remember getting my little workout on. I remember coming home and Pops would be in the kitchen. I’d be like, ‘Ah, I was just working out Dad.’ He’d say, ‘Did you run backwards?’ 

“Pops would give me half the story all the time. It was always trivia. I was trying to think of the answer first, because I didn’t want to sound dumb. ‘Nah, Dad, I didn’t.’ ‘Well, you are a quarterback right? After you take the snap, how are you gonna get back?’ Oooh, OK. So I became one of the illest straight drop back quarterbacks in the game. In the first year after my Pops said that to me, I didn’t get sacked the whole year.” 

Rakim later admitted that he was too small in stature for that position, especially back then, before the likes of Russell Wilson, Baker Mayfield, and Kyler Murray stormed the NFL scene.  

​​​​​​​“Just trying to throw further, run faster, be better was my thing, but things happen for a reason,” he said. “Quarterbacks are 6’7, 280 pounds. I’m glad Eric B. knocked on the door because I’m only 5’8, buck-forty on a good day. “Things happen for a reason. I was in love with football, just like I love music. I really thought I was going to be in the NFL one day, but I wasn’t quite big enough. Eric B. knocked on the door and some better things happened.” 

No doubt. Rakim went on to become the gold standard for hip-hop lyricism, a pioneer and iconic influencer of the world’s most popular art form.

JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.