Song - Gladiator
Artist(s) - John Colby
Released - N.A.
Primetime Usage - 1991-00
Contained on - N.A. (Sound Clip)Featured Highlight - Broncos @ Giants, 1998
From 1984-92, John Colby was the music director for ESPN. He's probably best known for composing the most famous theme song for Sportscenter, but he also wrote some sports-highlight tracks as well. Six of those (that I know of) were used on NFL Primetime. These six songs are divided into two "trilogies": one consists of three pieces only used for a few years, and the other contains three tracks that lasted a long time and that any fan of Primetime will immediately recognize. Colby is also well known for his Grammy-winning work (both pre & post-ESPN) on the productions of documentary master Ken Burns. Check out his website (linked above) or this article if you want to learn more.
The first of these well-known John Colby highlight tracks, "Gladiator," is one that even people who didn't really watch NFL Primetime may recognize. In addition to its frequent use on the show for a decade, it was also the background song for Chris Berman's "Fastest 3 Minutes" halftime segments on Monday Night Football. Gladiator kept being used for that purpose well after it was phased out on Primetime, in fact. My featured highlight choice for Gladiator is a long one. In 1998, the Denver Broncos started 13-0 and everyone was focusing on their Week-16 matchup with the last franchise to run the table: the Miami Dolphins. Their Week-15 contest with the Giants in The Meadowlands then became the ultimate example of a "trap game." A 3-7 start meant New York had no hope of defending their 1997 division-title run, but they were playing well down the stretch and this upset punctuated a 5-1 finish to the season. Have fun watching!