How Close Did “One Shining Moment” Come to Becoming a Football Song?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about music and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the movie urban legends featured so far.

MUSIC URBAN LEGEND: “One Shining Moment” was nearly played as part of the Super Bowl before becoming a NCAA basketball tradition.

With TBS taking over the airing of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship Game this year for the first time ever, there were people who were concerned that a long-standing tradition from the game’s long stint on CBS was going to come to an end, namely the montage at the end of the tournament set to the song “One Shining Moment” by David Barrett

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(the song has been covered a number of times over the years – the current version played on air is sung by the late Luthor Vandross).

It has been a tradition since 1987. TBS allayed everyone’s fears by assuring everyone that they will do the montage, as well.

Interestingly enough, though, the song was almost associated with an entirely DIFFERENT sport – football! Read on to see how close “One Shining Moment” came to becoming a football song.

Written by Barrett in 1986 while watching a Boston Celtics game, the initial lyric “The ball is tipped” was not part of the original version of the song. It was actually “The gun goes off,” as the song was originally more of a generic sports song (even if the specific sport that inspired the song’s writing WAS basketball).

Barrett was high school friends with the Sports Illustrated sportswriter Armen Keteyian, who also worked for CBS Sports. Keteyian, without Barrett’s knowledge, passed the song along to CBS Sports Creative Director Doug Towey, who loved the song – but he wanted to use it on the SUPER BOWL!

The initial plan was to have it air along with a montage at the end of Super Bowl XXI in early 1987. The opening lyric was changed to “the ball is kicked.” However, as happens so often with football games, the game went long and CBS chose to shorten their post-game show, since they were looking to introduce a brand new drama series following the Super Bowl and they wanted to get to it as soon as they could, so they cut the montage. Barrett wasn’t even told about it, so he and his friends and family were watching the game, just waiting to see it show up but it never did (the new show, a series about newspaper reported called Hard Copy, ended up tanking in the ratings, lasting for only a short first season – the following year, ABC had better luck with their post-Super Bowl program debut, as they used the Big Game to promote the pilot of The Wonder Years).

Luckily for Barrett, however, CBS had another major sporting event that year, so they were able to then transition the song to that year’s NCAA Tournament (with the “ball is kicked” line returning to “the ball is tipped”) and they aired the song in a montage at the end of the 1987 tournament. In an extra piece of good luck for Barrett, the 1987 Championship Game between Syracuse and Indiana was one of the best Championship Games of all-time, going down to the final seconds, so a lot of fans were there to watch the montage after the game (in the initial montage, Barrett also sang the song)…

And the rest is basketball history! Basketball history for a song that was almost a football tradition!

The legend is…

STATUS: True

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