Friday, October 3, 2014

Dolphins embracing power of music in locker room

Surya Fernandez/FOX Sports Florida

Steve Mitchell / USA TODAY Sports
Music has the power to evoke a wide range of emotions. For the Miami Dolphins, it's become the backbeat to their season starting from the very beginning in July, when head coach Joe Philbin decided to relax the rules a bit and pump out a wide range of music during training camp.

On any given day, music is playing loudly from a few of the lockers before and after practice while some players are lost in the tunes emanating from their premium headphones.

At one corner of the locker room, Pro Bowler Cameron Wake seems to be always playing music from his cream white Marshall Hanwell speaker. Next to the large boombox is a wide array of Apple devices, cables and connectors. It's clear Wake takes his musical preferences almost as seriously as he does his intense preparation for a game.

"It's funny," Wake says. "When I first got here six years ago, it was always the veterans who had their music on. As time goes on and they move on or retire, it kind of gets passed down. I guess I ended up being the veteran in the room, the elder statesman who is controlling the music."

On the opposite far corner of the locker room is where you'll find fellow defensive end Olivier Vernon and his shiny black-and-red Beatbox speaker perched on the armrest of his locker space.

The rectangular room's opposite ends are just a tad too far from each other for sound waves to comfortably reach the other side with much force, so Vernon's music never clashes with Wake's.

"We need some entertainment in the locker room, especially early in the morning to wake everybody up, so that's pretty much the idea behind it," Vernon says.

Like Wake, the hometown product prefers to play hip-hop for himself and his teammates sitting nearby, but his musical tastes expand beyond that when he's in his car or at home.

"It's whatever," Vernon says. "It can go from Rick Ross to Justin Timberlake to just about everybody. It's just a little pick-me-up for everybody. I'll switch it up, just whatever I feel like listening to. It depends on the mood I'm in, that's all."

Many of the players on the team have supported Philbin's decision to allow music during practice in a bid to improve the atmosphere. Just about every genre has been played at one time or another, from country to rap to classic rock. Whether it's Rick James, Wu-Tang Clan or Aerosmith, you'll hear it in between drills and while the team practices plays.

Defensive tackle Jared Odrick has welcomed the change this year.

"Most definitely I appreciate it," he said. "I think it keeps everybody engaged. Everybody knows -- whether it's their song or not -- it's always something to bob your head to, keep you moving, keep you engaged in practice. I know there's a lot of studies that have been done in terms of people listening to music and studying or getting tasks done, and I think it's helpful."

Vernon agrees.

"It makes practice go by so fast because you're not even thinking about the heat or how long practice is," he said. "It just makes it more fun."

For Odrick, though he doesn't have a specific playlist he prefers, he enjoys listening to instrumentals such as those from German film composer Hans Zimmer or the "Batman" soundtracks to get psyched up. He describes his more intense musical choices as "ignorant music" but likes to switch it up no matter if he's in the locker room or entertaining friends at his house.

"Whatever I'm feeling that day, I'll put on," he says. "It really does range from instrumentals like Jamie xx that I'm listening to on game day or ILoveMakonnen, which is the ignorant stuff that I like to listen to but it's got a great beat. There's all different types of stuff that I listen to on game day. On off days, it's more chill music. I have a wide array of music, from Otis Redding to Madonna to Action Bronson to Kid Cudi to Jay Z to everything."

Music and lyrics can also have more profound ways for those searching for inspiration. In the case of Wake, what he listens to before a game can not only help him mentally prepare for the mental and physical grind that is a pro football game, but it also helps put everything in perspective.

"I got a bunch of different things that I listen to," Wake says. "I'm a guy who listens to -- even before a game -- I have a playlist that I go through every game. A lot of things on there, they touch me, they're really motivational. The words speak to me on the things that I've gone through so before a game it kind of puts you in that zone that you go out there and play your best."

When it comes time to relax and rest the mind and soul, it's a different story. Wake admits that a lot of his teammates might be surprised to find out that he prefers to listen to a lot of jazz -- among some of his eclectic choices -- on the way back from practice or when he's sitting around the house.

In the locker room however, Wake summarizes most of the music he listens to right before a game as hard rock, or "angry music" as he likes to describe it. His one go-to song that he always plays to get ready for a game is Lil Wayne's "I'm A Go Getta." Featuring lyrics such as "Never tired or fatigued, never defiant to my team," it's not hard to figure out why, but for Wake there's more meaning to it.

"Obviously, you can draw parallels to it but it kind of fits into the story that I went through and how to get to where I am now," he said. "So every game it kind of sets me back to the times when things maybe weren't so nice and pretty and easy. I was kind of struggling, so to speak, and had to go through that fight to get to this point. So before every game, it keeps you humble, keeps you hungry and keeps the fire burning."

Dick Clark once said music is the soundtrack to our lives. For the Dolphins, it's what they hope will help drive them to perform to their fullest potential this season.

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