Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” will never be used as evocatively as it was in Miami Vice’s 1984 pilot — Fire up the Spyder, Crockett, and load that shotgun, Tubbs! — but isn’t afraid to try. ESPN’s football franchise teamed up Snoop Dogg, Chris Stapleton, and drummer Cindy Blackman Santana to remake Collins’ 1981 hit as a brand-new opening theme.
And while it doesn’t touch Michael Mann’s indelible usage, the new rendition sure is moody fun. The minute-and-a-half recreation sees Stapleton, with an upturned collar and cowboy hat, walking determinedly down a stadium, while Snoop, in a tracksuit, drives in on a lowrider for a rap verse: “Rivals, us first then survival. We must win, it’s tribal.”
The video splices clips of the several NFL teams of Snoop Dogg’s rap, a crew of dancers, and Blackman Santana’s drum-playing. The video ends with a Stapleton guitar solo as he hits the track’s high notes in the chorus: “Well I’ve been waiting for this moment for all my life, oh lord.”
The full version of the opening — produced in part by Stapleton’s longtime producer, Dave Cobb — premiered at gametime tonight as New Orleans takes on Carolina. Stapleton hit high notes backed by Blackman Santana’s drumming.
Country stars and football openings seem to go hand-in-hand. Last Monday, Stapleton’s new single “White Horse” played before Monday Night Football. And two Sundays ago, Carrie Underwood returned for her 11th consecutive season of opening NBC’s Sunday Night Football with her “Waiting All Day for Sunday Night,” a melody remake of Joan Jett’s “I Hate Myself for Loving You.”
In February, Stapleton performed the national anthem ahead of Super Bowl LVII and went on to release his rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” to streaming services in June. He’ll drop his new album, Higher, on November 10.
Snoop Dogg, meanwhile, has been an outspoken supporter of striking Hollywood writers and actors. In July, the rapper canceled a pair of planned concerts at the Hollywood Bowl in October in a show of solidarity with the WGA and SAG/AFTRA.
This story was updated on Sept. 18 at 8:31 p.m. to include a full clip of the song.