Photo Credit Shaun Silva

When you’ve been building a show and rehearsing for three months, there comes a moment when you want to put a little extra wood on the fire. For sports aficionado Kenny Chesney, that means enlisting ESPN “Monday Night Football” analyst and the youngest coach to win a Superbowl Jon Gruden to address his entire team before taking the stage for a last rehearsal at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Thursday night.

“Jon is easily one of the most passionate people I know,” says the man who’s played to over a million fans on each of his last ten tours. “He knows how to inspire and fire people up… and to have someone like that talk to me and the guys, well, I couldn’t think of any way better to get this year started!”

So as the sun slipped into Tampa Bay, Chesney’s entire organization met on the stage that will officially be christened March 16th to listen to some short remarks from the man who once led the Buccaneers to victory in Superbowl XXXVII. Stressing the importance of Effort, Enthusiasm and Initiative, Gruden balanced humility – recognizing the sacrifice of leaving families for the three months invested in putting it together and the six months spent touring – and humor – tales of his own moments of miscommunication.

Just as importantly, both Chesney and the high-energy ESPN commentator noted the power of teamwork to bring out more than what any individual might think they’re capable of. The idea of being in it together can sometimes spark new levels of execution.

“This is a pretty amazing thing,” Chesney acknowledges. “I’m a kid from a small town in East Tennessee. I wanted to be a baseball player. Nobody trades that dream for thinking, ‘I’ll play music in football stadiums.’ It doesn’t work like that…

“And to believe you can do something like that, you have to believe there’s a way. This team, all these people out there, made me think we could and that’s more than half of it. When you have people whose drive matches your own, who have skill sets like the folks I get to work with, anything is possible!

“Because I promise when I decided to try doing stadiums, a lot of people thought we were crazy! But not this group… Nope, they dug in and went, ‘Let’s do it!’ Now this summer, we’re gonna do it again – and we’re gonna have a lot of fun doing it. That’s the thing above all of it: it’s about having fun while you’re making it come true. Between the band, the crew and the incredible No Shoes Nation, I know we got that covered.”

Chesney’s No Shoes Nation Tour kicks off Saturday, March 16th at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL.  For a full list of tour dates, please visit