Former NFL Player Blake Proehl Auditions for ‘American Idol’ Years After Severe Injury

Blake Proehl with grandma

Heavy/ABC/Getty Former Minnesota Vikings player Blake Proehl auditioning for "American Idol" with is grandma by his side

While recovering from a devastating injury that cut his time in the NFL short, Blake Proehl discovered a new passion for making music. Ahead of the season 22 premiere of “American Idol,” host Ryan Seacrest has been singing the praises of the football player, saying that his audition for the show stands out to him as one of the most compelling.

Here’s what you need to know:

Blake Proehl Credits His Grandma for Giving Him the Confidence to Sing

Proehl, 25, is the son of NFL wide receiver Ricky Proehl, according to Sports Illustrated, and was a football star at East Carolina before signing with the Minnesota Vikings as a free agent after the 2021 NFL Draft. But during training camp, he was severely injured and missed his entire rookie season. Unable to even practice, he spent his down time dabbling in music.

“I tore my patellar tendon, my ACL, my meniscus, and my MCL,” he told North Carolina’s ABC45. “I just for some reason had gotten a guitar when I first got to Minnesota, and I just remember seeing it beside my bed after I got hurt, and I was like might as well start learning now.”

“Doctors said, ‘It’ll be a success story if you’re able to run again,'” he said in a preview video for the “American Idol” premiere, so he worked on making music while trying to make a comeback on the field.

In 2021, a video he posted on TikTok of him singing to his grandma for the first time went viral, with nearly four million likes. Stunned by his rendition of “In Case You Didn’t Know” by Brett Young — the same song he sang in his audition — she has since become one of his biggest supporters.

In July 2023, the North Carolina native performed his first headline show at the Fine Line music venue in Minneapolis. Fans were lined up around the venue to see Proehl’s debut, including his Nana — Joanne Baker of Raleigh. In fact, he surprised her during the show by bringing her onstage to perform “In Case You Didn’t Know” again.

“She’s one of the main reasons I even do this,” he said in a profile by the Vikings. “I wouldn’t really believe in myself or have confidence in my voice without her.”

“I think he’s giving me a lot of credit for all the credit he’s due for the hard work that he has put in,” Baker told ABC45.

After Proehl’s audition, Baker stood by her grandson’s side to hear the judges’ verdict.

“Every grandma thinks their grandchildren are great,” Katy Perry told her, and then exclaimed, “but you’re right!”

Ryan Seacrest Says Blake Proehl’s Story is One of His Favorites

Proehl did return to the Vikings during the 2022 season but spent the season on the practice squad, SI reported, and was waived by Minnesota in August 2023 — around the same time he was auditioning for “Idol.” Proehl has released multiple singles and music videos while pursuing a new career in music, but hopes that appearing on the show will help him gain traction.

If Seacrest has anything to say about it, Proehl will go far on the show. In a promotional video for the premiere, he said Proehl’s audition and story stood out to him as one of his favorites. He also shared a clip of it during a February 12 appearance on “Live With Kelly and Mark.”

“He’s an NFL player who’d never sang in front of people before,” he told hosts Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos. “He comes out and he sings, he’s just never done it before, but he’s a hard worker, right? He’s got that work ethic. That’s the point for me — it’s like, what is so special about doing this after two decades? Everybody’s got a unique story.”

“It’s incredible,” Ripa said of Proehl’s clip. “That’s a really unique story. I mean, that kind of really tugs at your heartstrings.”