New ‘Monday Night Football’ song: Why ESPN picked ‘In The Air Tonight’ as its new anthem


Can you feel it coming in the air on Monday night?

ESPN has had the propensity to try and work (and rework) its “Monday Night Football” broadcast through the years. Whether it was a new broadcast booth (hi, Tony Kornheiser) or new alternate broadcasts or remixes to the iconic “MNF” theme, there’s been no shortage of facelifts to the long-running football presentation.

Starting in Week 2, there’s another new wrinkle introduced to the fold, and it comes with some familiar musicians on a familiar song. Featuring country artist Chris Stapleton and rapper Snoop Dogg, there’s a new tune to welcome viewers into the final games of the NFL week.

Here’s what to know about the new Monday night anthem (oh, Lord):

MORE: Why Chris Fowler, Dan Orlovsky and Louis Riddick are calling ‘MNF’

New ‘Monday Night Football’ song in 2023

On Sept. 18, ESPN announced that a remixed version of Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” would take centerstage for the network’s “Monday Night Football” broadcasts, replacing Little Richard’s “Rip It Up,” performed by Butcher Brown.

There is a bit of new sound to the tune, though: Country artist Chris Stapleton lends his vocals to the track, with hip hop artist Snoop Dogg adding “football-centric verses” to the song. Rock and jazz drummer Cindy Blackman Santana also offers her talents to the track.

The full song will debut during the “Monday Night Football” matchup between the Browns and Steelers, but for now, a small teaser for the song:

The new-sound “In the Air Tonight” is the next song to be used as an anthem for “MNF,” following Little Richard’s “Rip It Up,” which was used from 2020 to 2021. Of course, the famed “Heavy Action” (colloquially known as the “DUN DUN DUN DUUUUUUNN” song) will still be used as the secondary theme for the broadcast.

This marks the fourth song that will be featured on a “Monday Night Football” broadcast. Hank Williams Jr.’s “All My Rowdy Friends are Here On Monday Night” was used between 1989 and 2011, before it was removed due to Williams’ criticisms of then-president Barack Obama. (Williams compared Obama to Adolf Hitler.) A remixed version of the song was used between 2017 and 2019 before “Rip It Up” followed in 2020. 

It’s not the first time that either Stapleton or Mr. Dogg will be involved in an NFL production. Stapleton sang the national anthem during Super Bowl 57, while Snoop Dogg was a performer of the Super Bowl 56 halftime show. 

As far as why the network chose the song, it’s simple: “In the Air Tonight” is considered to be one of the greatest songs of all time, with the iconic drum fill mimicked by many, including Mike Tyson in “The Hangover.” 

NFL players have long used the tune as a hype song, famously including Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, who listened to it before every game.

Now, NFL fans will have the opportunity to hear the song before every “Monday Night Football” game.

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