NBC’s Sunday Night Football, much like other sports shows, often makes a point of using bumper music, coming in and out of commercials, which have some local connection to the city where the game is being played.
You might hear The Cars in Boston, The Ramones in New York, or Chicago in Chicago. It’s usually a clever in-joke, showing that the people making the decisions have some musical knowledge as well as a sense of humor. In one Sunday night game earlier this year, the directors even pulled out “Limbo Rock” just a couple of minutes after the Minnesota Vikings performed a limbo-themed touchdown celebration.
But Sunday night’s game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Los Angeles Rams included a curious musical choice. Late in the game, with the Eagles clinging to a lead, the broadcast showed a montage of the various times this season that the Eagles have blown leads and lost games. And the music for this was an instrumental track of “Streets of Philadelphia,” Bruce Springsteen’s Oscar-winning song from the 1993 movie Philadelphia.
The film, directed by the late Jonathan Demme, told the story of a lawyer (Tom Hanks) fired from his white-shoe law firm after they discover that he has AIDS. He then sued the firm, while Denzel Washington played the homophobic lawyer who takes his case when others had refused. Hanks won his first of two consecutive Best Actor Oscars for his work on the film, while Springsteen won the Best Original Song Academy Award. Philadelphia usually ranks near the top of lists of movies shot in its namesake city.
The musical choice may very well have been related to the film’s 25th anniversary falling just a few days from now (Philadelphia came out December 22, 1993), although as pointed out by various people on Twitter, NBC has previously used the song during Eagles game broadcasts, in 2013 and 2015.
NBC just played “Streets of Philadelphia” over a montage of the Eagles blowing leads this year. pic.twitter.com/rGmu5d84S2— mike toole (@miketoole) December 17, 2018
There was just something incongruous about illustrating a bunch of football losses with music from a deadly-serious movie about the AIDS crisis, which weirded out a lot of Eagles fans who were worried about losing another game. At least NBC announcers Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth avoided jokes such as “like Tom Hanks in the courtroom, the Eagles have frequently collapsed this season.”
At any rate, the fans’ fears were unfounded, as the Eagles defeated the Rams 30-23 in Los Angeles, to run their record to 7-7, per ESPN.
Most Twitter results for “Streets of Philadelphia,” however, were referenced to street celebrations held after the Eagles’ Super Bowl win in February.