Friday, November 4, 2016

The John Colby Trilogy - Part I

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!


  1. Definitely a classic Primetime song, probably my favorite as well!

    On another note, I found a song "Hardline" on a couple of those old Firstcom CDs that sounds incredibly familiar. I can't swear it was a NFL Primetime song, but I've definitely heard it before on TV, likely in connection to the NFL. Any idea if it was used by NFL Primetime at some point?

    1. I know what song you're talking about. It wasn't used on Primetime, AFAIK, but I suppose it could've been used on another ESPN show or ad or something. Other Firstcom tracks, like "Speed Zone" and "Glitter System" were reportedly used on other ESPN stuff.


  2. Thanks again, it's probably my favorite; instantly takes me back to times of watching primetime on sunday nights as a kid in the mid-late 90s.