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End Around: Carrie, Creed and Cam Newton are all stars

When I was in college -- this was that semi-terrifying era of American history known as the early-aughts -- it was not uncommon for a night out at the bar to end with boozy, late-night sing-along sessions to hits from the likes of Bon Jovi, Journey and Guns N' Roses.

This was ironic fun for Generation Y humans like myself. By the early 2000s, pop singles dominated by synthesizer and gated reverb drums sounded like music beamed in from another planet. Many of the hits of the decade hadn't aged well -- that was putting it kindly in many cases -- but that didn't stop those hits from ear-worming into your brain forever.

While this was going on, the modern popular music of the day stood in stark contrast to the feel-good hits of the Reagan era. Bands like Creed, Limp Bizkit, Staind and Nickelback ruled the charts in an uneasy alliance with Britney, Christina, the Backstreet Boys and NSYNC. Given the options, no wonder people my age gravitated toward the music of our older siblings.

And now here we are, 15 years later. Eighties pop still has a place in the hearts of many, but we're now seeing the millennial generation aging into their own nostalgic listening habits. And you'll never believe the band at the forefront of all this ironic music enjoyment ...

That's right. The downturned guitar crunch of Mark Tremonti and the sub-Vedder yowling of Scott Stapp have been met with arms wide open by the same millennial set that turned its back on the nu-metal genre years ago. Want more proof? How about the defending NFC champion Carolina Panthers, who made headlines during their playoff run because they were belting out Creed lyrics to each other from an uncomfortably close distance on the practice field and in the locker room. They called it Creedbombing.

"We were just talking about how when we were younger bands like Creed and Nickelback were big," Panthers linebacker Ben Jacobstold The Charlotte Observer at the time. "We were laughing with the raspy voices and how much we still kind of liked the songs. It just started turning into singing it randomly, you don't even think about it. It's taken on a life of its own."

Stapp, the mercurial former lead singer of Creed, reveled in the ridiculousness of it all. Sure, people were embracing Creed in a so-bad-it's-good manner, but that's better than drifting into outright irrelevance.

"The fact that Creed is still in the conversation 20 years later I think speaks for volumes for how the music has impacted people," Stapp told the Observer in January. "I think some of my personal struggles contributed to some of the criticism, and rightfully so. But I think the music on its own has, so far, stood the test of time. It's still showing its impact on pop culture 20 years later."

On the latest "Around The NFL Podcast," I presented my hypothesis that '80s music has been replaced by bands like Creed and Nickelback as the guilty pleasure nostalgic listening of 20- and early-30-somethings. The NFL's sudden rekindled connection with Creed is a microcosm of a national phenomenon.

Creed is back. Embrace it. Let it take you higher.

Welcome to the Around The NFL End Around, a weekly look back at the world of the National Football League. Dan Hanzus serves as your guide.

Team Carrie

I want to begin today's edition of the End Around with a subject of vital national importance.

For two years now, I've stumped for Carrie Underwood as the long-term answer for the opening theme of "Sunday Night Football." Curiously, I have several colleagues who vehemently disagree with this opinion. These dissenters believe Underwood to be a charisma-deficient replacement-level talent who doesn't deserve her precious perch atop television's most-watched program. This is cold-blooded and wrong.

(I'll allow this is one of the more pointless newsroom debates in my time at NFL Media. Stay with me.)

This anti-Carrie sentiment is a garbage take that undervalues Underwood's talent as a singer and performer while at the same time exposing the absence of any ability to count one's blessings. I lived through the Hank Williams Jr. era on Monday nights. Didn't you? Have you already forgotten what we -- as a nation -- once endured on a weekly basis? Well ... HAVE YOU!?!

Ultimately, this is about Faith Hill, who for six years dutifully held down the SNF intro front with grace, vitality and a certain je ne sais quoi. It is Underwood's goal -- really, her duty -- to escape Faith's substantial shadow and make the SNF theme her own. I believe this to be a make-or-break year for the former "American Idol" winner.

And I believe.

Cam doing Cam things ...

This is what makes Cam Newton so much different than the vast majority of superstar professional athletes. Tom Brady would sell off the soul of a TSA agent if it meant he could get to his gate undetected by the masses. Meanwhile, Cam struts down an airport terminal dressed in gleaming white, wearing a mountie hat and playing a flute. The only thing missing here is a handler holding a neon sign that blinks "LOOK! FAMOUS PERSON HERE!"

Which is fine. This is not my hit piece for Twitter: Cam's airport behavior highlights Glory Boy tendencies: MY COLUMN. I'm simply pointing out that Cam's a different dude.

And to the TSA agent who suddenly feels curiously absent of spirit, just know that TB12 is resting comfortably in one of those first-class seats that turns into a bed.

Tebow spotting!

I'm pretty much positive someone painted that Henley shirt on Tebow's impressive torso. "Shaken" is Tebow's follow-up to his New York Times bestseller Through My Eyes.

I guess my question is this: Has that much transpired in Tebow's life in the five-year space between books? Certainly not a ton has gone down in his football career since 2012, the last time he cashed an NFL paycheck. I don't want to second-guess the publisher, but I would have at least held off a couple years until Tebow got 112 percent of the popular vote in Florida's next gubernatorial election.

Jordan & JoJo

The man in the image above is Jordan Rodgers, former professional quarterback and brother of Packers star Aaron Rodgers. Jordan was unable to sustain an NFL career after some nice years at Vanderbilt, but he'll step back into the national spotlight this month as a contestant on the latest season of "The Bachelorette." In his bio over on ABC's website, Jordan said the wildest thing he's ever done in the bedroom was trying "to hang a TV on the wall without directions or a stud finder." (That actually is pretty wild, if you've ever tried the audacious wall/TV move.)

I wouldn't say I'm necessarily proud to be a watcher of "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette," but I'm not ashamed either. And now that Aaron Rodgers' brother is involved, I can tell those with judging minds that I have to watch it for work purposes. I might even try to write off my DirecTV bill. Of course, my cover only lasts as long as Jordan sticks around on the show, so get those roses, brother. May your reality career be more fruitful than your brief NFL sojourn.

Gronk does ballet

This goes back to my theory that Rob Gronkowski will do literally anything you ask him to do, so long as it's between February and the end of July. I was just about to call Gronk's agent to find out if his client can paint my garage on Saturday. Let's be honest here: Do you think there's any chance Gronk actually wanted to go on that party cruise a couple months back? Of course not. Cruises are terrible. Everyone under the age of 73 understands this.

It's OK to say no, Gronk. Have a few of your signature vodka-waters, kick back and relax.

What the what?

Here's some evidence that it's not just fans who are getting restless about the absence of football. Steelers linebacker James Harrison -- apparently annoyed by repeated random drug tests -- decided to use his Instagram feed as a way to stick it to the league ... or the testing system ... or ... actually, I'm not really sure what James Harrison was fired up about. I'm not sure he is, either.

It's funny how James gets cut off there like a guy leaving a long-winded answering machine message that he'll ultimately regret. Think Mike in Swingers.


This entry comes with the following caption: "Since I heard they fired the last guy who let me record the test, I didn't record it. I'm not trying to get anyone fired who's just doing their job."

Well, besides the poor schmuck you already got fired. Somebody stop James Harrison! You first.

Some guys have it all ...

Vinatieri is the only guy to clinch two Super Bowl wins with last-minute kicks. He's also almost certainly the only placekicker to get name-checked in a hip-hop banger.

Quote of the Week

"For me, it's a process. Just watching film, I'm seeing things. I played 'Madden' the other day, and it's not just picking run plays anymore. It's like, 'Oh, they've got an under front.' You start picking up things differently. That's exciting for me."

-- Jets quarterback Bryce Petty, on how a video game has helped him gauge his NFL development.

I will never forgive my father for making me a Jets fan.

And now, apropos of nothing, here's Richie Incognito

Until next time ...

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