After scoring the first touchdown of Sunday’s Falcons-Packers game — not to mention the first regular season touchdown ever at Atlanta’s brand-new Mercedes-Benz Stadium — Devonta Freeman took full advantage of the NFL’s relaxed rules on scoring celebrations. The Falcons running back took a jump shot with the football, and swished it through the ersatz hoop formed by offensive lineman Andy Levitre’s arms.
Freeman needed a little help from Levitre to ensure that his shot was on target, but the real hero in the sequence came from the production crew at NBC’s “Sunday Night Football.” As the game went to a commercial break and the celebration was replayed, viewers were treated to the perfect soundtrack: “Roundball Rock,” John Tesh’s iconic theme music for “The NBA on NBC.”
The use of that jaunty melody, so familiar to anyone who watched basketball in the 1990s, came as a delight to many observers. What might have been a fun but fairly innocuous celebration was suddenly transformed into an unexpected nostalgia trip.
It says a lot about the enduring popularity of “Roundball Rock” that it got such a reaction, a good 15 years after NBC lost the rights to NBA telecasts. Tesh still performs the song regularly at his concerts, and a video of a suitably over-the-top version performed by him and a small army of backup musicians has been viewed on YouTube over 1.4 million times.
“When we play the song, at the end of our concerts, that’s when the guys in the audience that have been dragged to a John Tesh concert by their wives or girlfriends, they’re like, ‘Holy crap, you did this?’ ” Tesh told Vice Sports earlier this year. “That’s really fun for me.”
Sunday’s moment was fun for a lot of NFL fans who also have fond memories of 90s-era hoops. In fact, the musical accompaniment to Freeman’s jumper was nothing but a net positive.