The times, they are changin’ for “Monday Night Football.” Can you feel it in the air?
“Monday Night Football” unveiled a new theme song introducing the venerable pro football fixture. The pregame song debuted before both of Monday night’s NFL games, The Athletic reported. Chris Stapleton, Snoop Dogg and Cindy Blackman Santana’s version of Phil Collins’ moody 1981 hit, “In the Air Tonight,” was aired on ESPN before the Carolina Panthers hosted the New Orleans Saints in an NFL South matchup at 7 p.m.
The new anthem also was played on ABC leading into Monday’s game between longtime AFC North rivals Pittsburgh and Cleveland.
The NFL held off on its new theme song for one week, declining to play it before the Jets-Bills because the game was played on the 22nd anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, SBNation reported.
The song will play before every ESPN game except for the Week 4 game in London between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Atlanta Falcons because kickoff is at 9:30 a.m. EDT, USA Today reported.
Stapleton sang the lyrics while Snoop Dogg contributed “football-centric rap verses,” according to USA Today. Blackman Santana adds the distinctive drum beat that was a staple of Collins’ original version.
Crafting the new theme song was a challenge, video producer Rico Labbe told the newspaper.
“We just wanted to make sure we heard everybody’s voices – whether it was the fans’ voices, whether it was the artists’ voices, whether it was staying true to the ‘Monday Night Football’ brand over the years,” Labbe said. “We just wanted to make sure we meshed all that together. It could be a challenge. But we think we hit the sweet spot.”
Stapleton, 45, sang the national anthem in February before Super Bowl LVII, SBNation reported.
The new theme song is only the fifth “official” lead-in to “Monday Night Football” since the show’s debut in 1970.
“Score” by Bob’s Band, played from 1970 to 1975, according to SBNation.
“Heavy Action” by Johnny Pearson was the intro from 1976 to 1988.
Many fans of “MNF” grew up listening to Hank Williams Jr.’s rocking country version lead into the game with the catchline “Are you ready for some footbaaaall?”
The song was a reworked version of Williams’ 1984 hit, “All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight,” The Athletic reported.
“Heavy Action” returned in 2011 and ran through 2016, according to SBNation. Williams and his rowdy friends made a comeback from 2017 until 2019.
In 2020 and 2021, the intro was “Rip It Up” by Little Richard, featuring Butcher Brown.
The original “Rip It Up” was released in 1956 and held the No. 1 spot for two weeks on the R&B charts, according to The Athletic.
“Heavy Action” returned in 2022, but in a remix performed by Marshmello, the news outlet reported.