|Wired for sound, wide receiver Donte' Stallworth is the Patriots' music man and he's now tuned in to the offense. (ROBERT E. KLEIN/FOR THE GLOBE)|
Stallworth's love of music is no bum rap
FOXBOROUGH - Donte' Stallworth slides his thumb across the touchscreen of his iPhone. He's scanning the contents like Tom Brady surveying a defense. Like Brady, he knows exactly what he's looking for - a rap song that he and Randy Moss enjoy - and finds it quickly.
"This is me and Randy's jam," Stallworth announces. The twangy timbre of rapper T.I.'s "Help Is Coming" blares out of the phone. "We're trying to get them to play it here. They played this in Cincinnati and it was the first time we had heard it in a stadium, and we looked at each other like, 'Aww, [yeah]!' "
Chances are when Stallworth talks about jams he's talking about his musical selections, not fending off physical defensive backs. The Patriots wide receiver is an unabashed music lover. His iPhone and iPod nano are omnipresent. The iPhone is blasting music from his locker. The nano is strapped to his arm when he works out. The iPhone is on the field with him when he warms up before games.
"I can't go anywhere without my music," said the 26-year-old Stallworth. "Probably, anywhere you think I would want to go other than meetings and playing the game, but other than that I have it. I'm in my car. I'm in my room. If I'm anywhere, I've got my music."
Listening to music is as much a part of Stallworth's daily routine as putting on a helmet. He wakes up to Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. He switches to the strains of R&B chanteuse Rihanna on his way to the stadium and then rolls into hard-core hip-hop such as the late Tupac Shakur and current chart-topper Young Jeezy to get hyped up during the day.
On Sunday, when he takes the field in Miami to warm up for the Patriots' matchup with the Dolphins, Stallworth, who wears No. 18, will take his iPhone with him, put on his headphones, and go to "GAMEDAY18," the 81-song playlist he's compiled as musical motivation.
The playlist includes the aptly named "Champion" by Kanye West and T.I.'s "Hurt."
"He was like that even in school," said Patriots receiver Kelley Washington, who played with Stallworth at the University of Tennessee. "I think that's just an expression of him. He's got a lot of energy and he kind of feeds off of that. If you see him in pregame, he's got his iPhone. That's just how he gets ready . . . Some people drink coffee, some people eat breakfast. His thing is listening to music. It kind of gets him going."
Stallworth's teammates get a kick out of his musical predilection. He has been known to serenade those in the locker room with whatever song he's listening to.
"Loves music, can't sing a bit," said receiver Jabar Gaffney.
And to borrow from the title of one of West's songs, "Can't Tell Me Nothing," sometimes you can't tell Stallworth a thing because he can't hear you.
"He says, 'What?' a lot," said Washington. "He doesn't hear us a lot. Everybody to this point understands that's just how he is, and you might have to say - and even the coaches might have to say it - two or three times to him, but he eventually gets it."
Stallworth always has been a big music fan and he doesn't discriminate against any genre.
He clicks through the iPhone to reveal an eclectic collection that in addition to Beethoven and Mozart includes Kenny Loggins's "Danger Zone," Whitesnake's "Here I Go Again," and songs from Bon Jovi. (Singer Jon Bon Jovi made an appearance during training camp, standing with coach Bill Belichick during practice.)
Stallworth said his varied musical tastes are a reflection of his personality.
"I've always listened to a lot of different music," said Stallworth, who grew up in Sacramento. "It's always been whatever, R&B, rap, rock, country. I listen to all kinds of music. That's just the way I am. That's not only the music I listen to, I think it's more of my personality.
"I think I'm real diverse to where I feel like I can go anywhere and I can do anything. That's pretty much like my personality. I majored in psychology. I read all kinds of books from health books to, obviously, psychology, to cookbooks, and I don't even know how to cook. I think that's just part of my personality, the diversity in everything that I do."
It's also been part of his playing routine with the Patriots. After spending the first 10 days of training camp on the physically unable to perform list, it took Stallworth, who played the first four seasons of his career with the Saints and last season with the Eagles, awhile to get in tune with the Patriots' offense.
He's struck the right note in each of the last two games. He had four catches for 65 yards and his first touchdown as a Patriot - a 34-yard catch-and-run - in a 34-17 victory Oct. 7 against Cleveland. Last Sunday, in a 48-27 win over Dallas, Stallworth had the second-highest receiving yardage total of his career, hauling in seven balls for 136 yards and a back-breaking 69-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter that was the longest TD reception by a Patriot since 2003.
For him, making the switch to the New England offense was like asking a classical pianist to play extemporaneous jazz.
"I would say that it took me a minute to be able to grasp the offense and all the different alterations that we have with the routes here, as far as the [sight] adjustments and everything," said Stallworth, who averaged 19.1 yards per catch (38 for 725 yards and five touchdowns) with Philadelphia last year, the second-highest mark in the league.
"That was something I had never done before, coming from a West Coast offense, where we just go out and line up and run. It's rare that there are any adjustments in the West Coast offense, and here there are all kinds of adjustments. I would say that after the Jets game [Sept. 9] is when I really felt comfortable with the offense and knowing that I can go out there at any time and feel comfortable with the offense as a whole."
When it was pointed out that there is an analogy between some of the classical composers he listens to and Brady, who orchestrates the Patriots' offense, Stallworth was amused.
"He's pretty much running the show and when he's cuing somebody, it's your time to get the ball or whatever," said Stallworth. "That's a pretty neat deal. I never thought about it like that."
Considering his love of music, that's surprising.
Christopher L. Gasper can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.