This past week’s NFL Draft provided fans with a welcome respite from the COVID-19 quarantine, a little slice of normalcy thanks to the sports world, even if social distancing restrictions meant potential draftees, league executives and ESPN studio analysts were largely working remotely from home. Because of this, however, music fans got the added bonus of a peek at ESPN analyst Desmond Howard’s wide-ranging vinyl collection.
In the ZOOM age born of this quarantine, framing your teleconferencing shot is everything, and Howard — winner of the 1991 Heisman Trophy as a Michigan wide receiver/kick returner — brought his “A game” to the festivities. To his right sat his Heisman and a regulation NFL football on a shelf. To his left sat a glass trophy, a Shinola turntable (most likely a Runwell, but possibly a custom build) and an ever-changing parade of selections from his personal album racks.
R&B, jazz, reggae, rap and rock were all highlighted among his selections. He typically swapped albums out during commercial breaks, and it made for a great diversion during the first two nights of draft coverage.
Here’s a complete list of the albums Howard showcased, in order, by day:
THURSDAY (Round 1)
- Michael Jackson – Got To Be There
- Stevie Wonder – Talking Book
- The Beatles — Abbey Road
- The Jimi Hendrix Experience — Are You Experienced?
- Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane
- Scarface — The Diary
- Bob Marley — Chances Are
- Ray Charles — A Man and His Soul
- The Jacksons — Destiny
- Prince — Piano & A Microphone 1983
- Miles Davis — Milestones
FRIDAY (Rounds 2-3)
- The Best of Earth, Wind & Fire, Vol. 1
- Hall & Oates — Rock ‘N Soul Part 1
- Elvis Presley — Elvis’ Golden Records
- Marvin Gaye — Live!
- Isaac Hayes — Shaft OST
- Beastie Boys — Licensed To Ill
- Prince and the Revolution — Parade
- [Various Artists] — Saturday Night Fever OST
- Parliament — Live: P-Funk Earth Tour
- Michael Jackson — Off The Wall
- Simple Red — Picture Book
- [Various Artists] — We Are The World
These albums weren’t presented in any order of preference on Howard’s part, just as a sampling of his collection. That Howard is an avowed vinyl collector came as no surprise to his Twitter followers — and he has 380,000 of them — but Howard’s passion probably came as a pleasant surprise to most of the audiophile community. Also, he deserves mad props for proper use of “vinyl” as a plural.
Sadly, Howard was missing from Saturday’s coverage of Rounds 4 through 7, but he did show up on ESPN’s College GameDay pre-draft coverage and added five more albums to the playlist.
SATURDAY (College GameDay)
- Michael Jackson — Thriller
- Al Green — Tokyo Live
- [Various Artists] — The Wiz OST
- Charles Mingus — Mingus at Carnegie Hall
- Eric B. & Rakim — Follow The Leader
Desmond Howard, we salute you!