New music debuts for 'NFL Countdown'

"NFL Sunday Countdown" composer Brian Tyler has scored more than 60 films. Courtesy of Gabe Thompson and Aris Stoulil

The man who scored music for "Iron Man 3" and other Marvel films in the Avengers series, was asked to compose new music for ESPN's "Sunday NFL Countdown" -- the first new music commissioned for the network's football programming in 18 years. The new music premiered this past Sunday, along with ESPN's brand-new 9,000 square foot studio for NFL programming.

When Brian Tyler was growing up, he loved music and football. And there was a place where those two worlds were one and the same -- the weekly highlights produced by NFL Films, in which the dramatic game footage and the music that told the story were inseparable from each other.

Tyler, who has scored more than 60 films and numerous television series, tapped into those childhood football memories. He saw a parallel between the tension of the game and the emotions of battle scenes he has previously scored.

"It's not just the battle itself, but preparation for the battle. It's the angst you have, the nerves you're trying to allay -- and at same time you're trying to psych yourself out to go on the battlefield," he said. "There's the strategy, the mind games and the physicality of the battle itself. And after the game there's jubilant victory or crushing defeat. Musically, I wanted to get all of those things."

While the NFL Films highlights previously scored by composer Sam Spence were an inspiration, Tyler said he didn't set out to recreate or reboot those songs. Rather, he was after the emotional impact the music conveyed.

Watching those highlights as a kid, he said, "made you feel like you were watching the most significant game in the history of the universe and it could have been a game that was 7 to 3 that had no impact on the playoffs.

"The people who are watching (highlights), they are tremendously into it -- it doesn't matter if your team is in second-to-last place," Tyler said. "I assume people feel the same way I do about the game and hopefully the music translates and can capture that."

Claude Mitchell, the coordinating director of ESPN Music, said Tyler's body work made him a natural choice for the job.

“We wanted a theme that was distinctive and that emphasized the heroic nature of football. These are constant themes in Brian’s work, particularly the music he has scored for 'Iron Man 3' and other Marvel films,” Mitchell said. "Brian is someone we've been using as a reference for a while, so it was particularly exciting to have the opportunity to work with him on this project."

Tyler composed show-specific scores for three of the network’s signature NFL programs: "Sunday NFL Countdown," "NFL Live" and "NFL Insiders," along with a general “NFL Gridiron” theme. You'll hear the music throughout these shows, leading in and out of commercial breaks and during game highlights.

Tyler's recent film credits include the Marvel films "Iron Man 3," "Thor: The Dark World," and the upcoming "Avengers: Age of Ultron," as well as "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," "Into the Storm" and "The Expendables 3." He was nominated for an Emmy in 2014 for his work on the television series "Sleepy Hollow" -- one of three career Emmy nominations. He's won 10 BMI Music Awards, five ASCAP Music Awards and was honored as composer of the year at the 2014 Goldspirit Awards and the 2014 Cue Awards.