Sam Spence and the Music of NFL Films

NFL commentator Jim Brown mentioned the recent passing of the iconic NFL Films composer Sam Spence today during one of the shows leading up to today’s Superbowl. Spence wrote the epic theme music we hear with many of the NFL’s shows, events and video games. What Brown didn’t mention is that Spence had a current legal issue with NFL Films that had been reported on in Film Score Monthly.

Allegedly Spence reported two occasions when NFL Films tried to get his signature on documents to release ownership of his music to NFL Films. The first attempt was unsuccessful but the second attempt to get his signature was successful. Spence initially declined to sign the document but NFL Films was insistent that there was a time-sensitive copyright infringement case they were working on and they needed his signature to defend the case. They said they would return the document back to him after the case. According to Spence he never received that document back.

This underscores the importance of doing your due diligence even when you are being pressured to make a decision. Having an attorney on your team when you are dealing with large entities like the NFL is crucial to getting the best deal for you.