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The 5 O'Clock Club: The Leon Redbone edition

It’s 5 o’clock somewhere...

The 5 o’clock club aims to provide a forum for reader-driven discussion at a time of day when there isn’t much NFL news being published. Feel free to introduce topics that interest you in the comments below.

Quick, without resorting to Google or Wikipedia, answer this question:

Who is Leon Redbone?

a. A UDFA linebacker with the NY Giants

b. A prospective new owner of the Tennessee Titans

c. A retired singer/entertainer

d. The first full-time game official hired by the NFL under the new policy

If you answered “c” without hesitating, then you are likely to be ‘of a certain age’ or have eclectic taste in music (or possibly you are simply a whiz at standardized tests).

If you answered a, b, or d, then it’s time to expand your musical and cultural horizons. Leon Redbone is one of the greatest entertainers of my lifetime, though it sometimes takes more than one exposure for people to embrace what he does.

He has a style all his own.

Leon Redbone is about a half-dozen years older then me. He retired from professional entertainment in 2015, but back in the day he was a regular performer on Saturday Night Live when John Belushi was still the star of the show.

Through the years, Redbone never lost his unique style.

My personal favorite Leon Redbone song is “She ain’t Rose”. If you’ve never heard it, I strongly encourage you to click this link and have a listen.

Basically, the song is a guy singing about a girl who isn’t Rose; Rose is/was his wife or ex-girlfriend who packed up and left. It’s a bluesy/jazzy tune whose central message is along the lines of: “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with”.

For those of you who prefer reading to listening, I’ll print the opening lyrics here:

She ain't Rose, but she ain't bad;

She ain't easy, but she can be had.

So can I when she whispers in my ear.

She ain't Rose, but she ain't bad, and Rose ain't here.

Like many great songs, this one communicates a lot of back story with only a few words, and has subtle shifts in message that make it a joy to listen to again and again.

Leon tells us (sort of) what happened to Rose during the song:

Lord only knows what happened to my Rose;

She packed up all her bags and just rambled on down that road.

And his attitude toward the unnamed “she” of the song (the one who isn’t Rose) shifts from the beginning, when she “ain’t bad” to the middle, when she’s “alright” to the end, when she seems to be replacing Rose as the object of his affections:

She ain't Rose, but she's getting close.

And we'll keep on getting closer, I suppose.

She makes those bad old memories disappear.

She ain't Rose, she ain't bad —

She's the best gal I ever have had —

She ain't Rose, she ain't bad, and Rose ain't here.

I was walking down the street the other day, burning calories, when “She ain’t Rose” started playing on my MP3 player. As I said, it’s one of my favorite tunes, and my mood became sunny.

When I’m walking, I have plenty of time to ruminate, and it occurred to me that the Redbone song serves as a metaphor for the NFL.

I know, crazy, right?

What I mean is, it’s not unusual for fans to have to adopt the “If you can’t be with the one you love” philosophy (or, in this case, the “She ain’t Rose” philosophy). This season, for example, Redskins fans have had to shift our affections from Pierre Garcon & DeSean Jackson to Terrelle Pryor Sr. & Josh Doctson.

That’s a process. At first it’s “Pryor ain’t bad, but he ain’t DJax”. After some exposure, fans start to wonder if the new guys might be “alright”. And after the 7 stages of grief have passed, it’s not so hard to stop thinking about the players lost, and start embracing life with the new guys (“we’ll keep on getting closer, I suppose”).

A lot of times, the change is forced upon us fans (“Lord only knows what happened to my Rose, She packed up all her bags and just rambled on down that road”), sometimes by free agency, sometimes through injury, and sometimes through a coaching decision.

A classic “She ain’t Rose” process, in my mind, came in 1999 when the trusted and proven quarterback-of-the-future, Trent Green, playing for the Rams, was injured in a pre-season game and replaced by Kurt Warner, now in 2017 a newly-minted Hall of Famer, but at that time, he was seen differently:

But there was a man on the roster who had spent time in NFL Europe, a man who had played in the Arena Football League, a man who had stocked groceries in Iowa in order to make extra money.

That man became the lead player in “The Greatest Show on Turf”, but at the moment Rodney Harrison destroyed Trent Green’s knee, no Rams fan was excited by the prospect of Kurt Warner as the guy under center going forward. Over time, though, Warner replaced Trent Green in the hearts of Rams fans.

I’ll toss out two potential challenges today:

  1. Identify a “She ain’t Rose” player transition for the Redskins — it could be on the current roster, or from a past season. Remind us all of a time when the Redskin fan base had to accept a new player to replace the one we loved, and came to love the new guy in his stead. OR
  2. Introduce us to an obscure or little-known song that you really enjoy, and then (since this is a sports website and not a forum for musical discussion) find a way to connect it to the NFL.


How did you feel about Kirk Cousins at the start of training camp in 2015?

This poll is closed

  • 9%
    I thought the Redskins needed to trade him while they could still get value for him
    (7 votes)
  • 18%
    I thought he was a valuable backup who should be re-signed if possible
    (14 votes)
  • 28%
    I thought he had the potential to become a mid-level or journeyman starter in the NFL
    (21 votes)
  • 37%
    I thought he should be named the starter ahead of/instead of RG3
    (28 votes)
  • 6%
    I thought he was a clear leader and franchise quarterback
    (5 votes)
  • 0%
    I thought: "Future Hall-of-Famer, baby!"
    (0 votes)
75 votes total Vote Now