Iowa QB C.J. Beathard and the "Boys of Fall"

Song resonates in football circles, and Beathard's dad co-wrote it

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IOWA CITY — Perhaps no song in recent memory has the ability to crack 40-year-old men into blubbering softies quite like Kenny Chesney’s “Boys of Fall.”

The song’s opening lyric — “When I feel that chill, smell that fresh-cut grass; I’m back in my helmet, cleats and shoulder pads” — causes most former football players to reflect on steamy practices and game nights. It speaks to camaraderie, determination and collective experience. The song elevates the sensitivity to those special memories, especially when football season approaches.

Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard played high school football at Battle Ground Academy in Franklin, Tenn., when “Boys of Fall” debuted in July 2010. Three months later, the song hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. Beathard has a personal connection to “Boys of Fall.” His father, Casey Beathard, is a premier country music songwriter and co-wrote it alongside Dave Turnbull. They handed the song to Chesney, who turned into a country music masterpiece. ESPN unveiled the music video accompanied with all levels of football visuals, and “Boys of Fall” came to life.

“Obviously that song got out there and got popular real quick, and it wasn’t just a music video; it was like a documentary,” C.J. Beathard told The Gazette. “Obviously they had big plans for that song. It blew up, and it’s a lot of people’s favorite song. It’s one of my favorite songs, and a lot of people can relate to it.”

Beathard, 22, plays the guitar but admits he doesn’t carry the musical prowess of his younger brother, Tucker Beathard, a 21-year-old up-and-coming country musician. Along with music, the brothers played sports while growing up. C.J. Beathard said their football days may have helped inspire his father to write “Boys of Fall” along with Casey’s football experiences. Casey’s father, Bobby Beathard, won three Super Bowls as Washington Redskins general manager.

“(Casey) played football growing up with his brothers, and he grew up in a football family with my grandpa and everything,” C.J. Beathard said. “Obviously coaching us, me and my brothers, and growing up like that, I’d say us and his own childhood inspired that song.”


In an interview with The Boot, Casey Beathard discussed his family’s role in the song’s development. Everybody seemed to play a part.

“Football is my biggest passion, other than songwriting and the family stuff I do,” Casey Beathard said. “If I’m not with my family or writing, I’m at home, just watching football. That’s my background: My dad and brothers were in football, and I have a big passion for it. I’m coaching my kids all through it.

“It was not so much about football as much as, we were talking about life. I always coordinate football with life anyway — leaning on each other and all that stuff you face in life. There’s not a small town — or any town — in this country that doesn’t get it. This is where football came from. I’m surprised there hasn’t been a big song about football until now.”

In just six years, “Boys of Fall” has become the title track to a sport.

“It’s a well-written song,” C.J. Beathard said.

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