NFL Primetime is a sports television program that has aired on ESPN since 1987. The show is presented similarly to ESPN's own SportsCenter, featuring scores, highlights, and analysis of every game of the week in the NFL. Until the 2006 season, Primetime aired every Sunday night during the NFL season and it preceded ESPN's coverage of Sunday Night Football (it even aired when ESPN did not have a Sunday Night game, especially from 1990-97 when TNT had Sunday night games the first half of the season). The show was hosted by Chris Berman, with analysis from Tom Jackson. Berman and Jackson recapped Sunday afternoon's NFL games with highlights, statistics, and commentary. Pete Axthelm was a regular from 1987 until his death in 1991. Through the show's history, other co-hosts included John Saunders, Robin Roberts, Bill Pidto, and Stuart Scott. Pidto was often the target of good-natured ribbing by Berman, since Pidto often did recaps of games featuring losing teams. Roberts also seemed to be assigned to recap almost every game the Tampa Bay Buccaneers played between 1990 and 1992, when the Bucs were fielding some of the worst teams in NFL history. The position of co-host was dropped prior to the start of the 1998 season.
Rather than provide the usual package of scoring highlights, NFL Primetime presented extended highlights which also showed less dramatic plays. This provided context for the greater depth of analysis of each game. A staple of the show was the various FirstCom Music instrumental pieces that played in the background during the highlights, while Berman and Jackson recapped each game. This often gave the games, even in highlight form, a more epic feel overall. This feature continues during highlights on The Blitz.
For the most part, highlights from the show would feature FirstCom Music scores over the highlights. Some songs were even played on a consistent basis for certain teams. The Buffalo Bills, for example, often had their game played out (regardless of outcome) to a dramatic piece featuring triumphant passages of brass instruments. The Oakland Raiders, meanwhile, were often represented by an ominous-sounding piece that featured extensive use of horns and keyboards. On rare occasions, however, the standard FirstCom Music themes would be replaced by other music themes. For the Raiders-Steelers matchup in 2000, which marked their last meeting at Three Rivers Stadium as well as the stadium's second to last game, the music was replaced by classic NFL Films themes by Sam Spence including "A Golden Boy Again," "March to the Trenches," and "Raiders' Theme," while Berman confused then-current Raiders and Steelers with legendary ones. After the NFL returned in Week 2 of the 2001 season for the first games after 9/11, the first game highlights for the Giants-Chiefs matchup was presented with a more subdued FirstCom theme that was not regularly used by the program.