The Origin and Controversy Behind the Super Bowl Shuffle

If you’re old enough to remember football back in 1985, you might also remember a video that surfaced entitled the Super Bowl Shuffle. It was a song and a video that involved the Chicago Bears, and it was recorded a full month and a half before the Super Bowl even took place that season. The original desire to make the video was simple enough and by all accounts, seemed to be rather innocent. With that being said, a great deal of controversy eventually surrounded the entire project, so much so that the very individuals that took part in it became exceedingly frustrated with the entire ordeal. Read on to find out more information. This is a story that truly highlights how difficult it can be to create any type of project with one intention in mind and then see it through to make sure that intention is actually fulfilled.

The whole project was the brainchild of a player for the team, Willie Gault. He wanted to do it because he had always had an interest in becoming an actor or a singer once his football days were over. He thought this would be an excellent way to break into those particular fields and if he did it in this fashion, he could use his celebrity as a football player to make it somewhat easier to get a foothold in the field of performing. The very first controversy came when the Bears ended up winning the Super Bowl that season. Almost immediately, people got it into their heads that the game was somehow rigged and the proof was in the video that the Bears players cut about a month and a half earlier, all because the song was titled the Super Bowl Shuffle. Everybody was quick to jump on this bandwagon, but there wasn’t really any truth to it. In fact, there was never a single line in that song that made reference to the Bears actually winning the Super Bowl. All it involved was a bunch of players dancing and singing. Anyone could realistically make the argument that it made perfect sense to create a video about the Super Bowl when you are an NFL team, as that is the ultimate goal of every team out there. However, this did little to silence the critics. The worst part is that this was only the beginning of the controversy surrounding this video.

The Super Bowl Shuffle from John Wholespice on Vimeo.

The rest of it was far more severe. The entire idea had been to donate the profits to feed hungry people in and around the city of Chicago. Players were emphatic that if they were going to do this project, it had to help the needy. In fact, many of them only agreed to appear in the video because they had the idea that this is where the proceeds would be going. The problem is, there was obviously a third party involved, namely the record label. Even though it was a local record label that was located right there in Chicago, there seemed to be an issue with making sure that the money actually got to the people that it needed to get to in order to help them. For one thing, this video was an enormous success. No one expected it to be so. It made a tremendous amount of money, sold thousands upon thousands of copies, and even managed to compete with Michael Jackson’s video, Thriller, for popularity. As a result, the song made a lot of money. This is where things start to get murky.

Apparently, there was never any actual paperwork that stated exactly how much of the profits would go to charity and when those profits would be distributed. This is where so much of the trouble started happening. The football players wanted all of the profits to go in order to feed the hungry and the record label was having none of it. Eventually, the football team contacted a lawyer and determine that 75 percent of the profits needed to go to charity. The record label didn’t want donate more than 15 percent of the profits, as it wanted to keep the rest of those profits for itself. This was something that dragged on for over a year and many of the players on the Chicago Bears team became extremely frustrated with the whole thing. Each one of them received a $6,000 payout for being involved with the video, and they all donated all of their profits to charity. After almost two years, a percentage of the profits was given to charity in order to feed the hungry, but players were angry because it took far too long and in the end, it never even came close to the amount of money the video made.

Even today, all these years later, the debate rages on. Apparently, there was a lot of merchandise that was sold as a direct result of the success of this music video. None of the players received any royalties from the merchandise and as a result, many of them have sued the record label. For something that was supposed to have been a simple way to break into show business and help individuals in need at the same time, this project turned into something that became a real nightmare for the Chicago Bears and it’s something they’re still dealing with on some level today.

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