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The Man Behind The NFL Music: Sam Spence Dies At 88

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UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Professional football in America is a special game, a unique game.

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

For decades, that dramatic music you hear was a signature sound of the NFL. The man behind that sound died last week. His name was Sam Spence.

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WERTHEIMER: Spence was writing music for German television shows in the '60s when he was drafted to work for a then small production company called NFL Films.

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WERTHEIMER: Over two decades, Sam Spence composed soundtracks for hundreds of football documentaries and highlight reels. His grand scores matched the drama on the screen and on the field.

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WERTHEIMER: Some of his songs took on the majestic melodies of cowboy Westerns; others, the driving pulse of a spy movie. Spence never spared the brass or the drums, using their sounds to match the rhythms of a dynamic and thrilling game. Sam Spence died on the eve of Super Bowl 50. He was 88 years old.

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WERTHEIMER: The man behind our signature sound is thankfully still with us. BJ Leiderman, he wrote our theme music.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.