With one line during an interview with ESPN in 2012, linebacker Connor Barwin instantly separated himself from a common defensive meathead to one of a beloved character of hipsters and pop culture-football crossovers all over the world: "I wrote a blog this spring reviewing a concert for the Houston Press here. Maybe I'd get into some kind of music reviewing or something like that," he told ESPN's Paul Kuharsky. "That review was Fitz and the Tantrums. It was a great blog, short. I'm not going to tell you about it, you have to read it. I just enjoy music. Houston's got an incredibly diverse musical scene -- it's another reason I'd like to stay here. I just enjoy going to shows and live music. I used to play a little guitar in college but I haven't really picked it up lately."
Houston, Barwin says now, is an underrated music town. Close to Austin, it got a lot of traffic from the big shows that came through Texas. "Just the abundance of great shows really opened music up to me at another level," he said.
That may have been one of the big appeals to staying in Houston (along with his teammates, a promising squad, and more on field things like that), but injuries and contract negotiations got in the way. He turned down the Texans' offer before the 2012 season, and after an injury-plagued year, Barwin found himself on the market this offseason and signed with the Eagles.
"Obviously you can say now from a financial standpoint that might not have been the right decision," he said, of his decision to decline the Texans' offer in 2012. "But if I could go back and do it again, I would do the same thing.
"I never expected last year to turn out the [the way it did]," he added. "It was just the way the season went with injuries that caused me to have a season like that. I would never have bet against myself."
Now in a new city, Barwin is still holding on to his hipster cred. He still keeps in touch with House of Blues manager Mohawk Steve, one of the people thanked in his farewell full-page ad he took out in a Houston paper. And he says he's checked out some top venues in Philadelphia including the Electric Factory and Union Transfer. This summer, he also ventured down to Coachella. "I didn't know much about the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, so that was a good show to see," he said. "[Karen O's] very entertaining."
While he seems proud to be identified as one of the most music-savvy guys in the league, the move to Philadelphia has also helped him highlight another one of his interests outside of football: Basketball. The Eagles have their own basketball team that takes on other teams in charity events and other games. Barwin, who walked on to the University of Cincinnati basketball team, was thrilled when he discovered it. He played one of the final games with the team this offseason.
"It was really a lot of fun," he said. "I don't think any other football team could beat Eagles' basketball. B.J. Cunningham, Nick Foles, Jeremy Macklin and those [other] guys that are really good basketball players. I played in college and I bet [Macklin] and [Foles] could have as well.
"I was very excited," he added. "I couldn’t believe an NFL team was allowing that -- let alone promoting basketball."
So in the end, did it all turn out for the best for the NFL's most popular hipster? Perhaps. But as he said when first asked about how things were going in Philadelphia: "I'm loving it. It's going very well -- we've been down here six weeks and the football aspect is very good. Of course, all is good right now if you talk to anyone in the beginning (of OTAs.)"