Photo: Gary MillerCountless male football fans were disappointed last month when Faith Hill made the announcement she'd be retiring as the sexy opening number for NBC's "Sunday Night Football." However, they'll no doubt perk right up again when they hear who her replacement is--it's yet another country-music beauty, Carrie Underwood.
The six-time Grammy Award winner and "American Idol," who was officially named the new "SNF" opener on Tuesday, says she's "thrilled" and "honored" that NBC chose her as Hill's replacement.
"I have always loved football season," she said. "It is so exciting to now become part of it every Sunday night!"
"Sunday Night Football" producer Fred Gaudelli confirmed that Underwood was their first--"and only"--choice to replace Hill. "She's one of America's most popular entertainers and the perfect fit for our show," he noted. Gaudelli revealed in a conference call today that Underwood was also included the original line-up of considerations in 2006 when the show debuted.
Underwood will be performing the same number Hill made famous for the past five seasons: "Waiting All Day For Sunday Night," which is set to the tune of Joan Jett's classic "I Hate Myself For Loving You." She'll be recording her own version of the song, marking her first production for NBC Sports. "It's the same song, same lyrics, but it’s going to be with my flair," she explained.
The singer isn't averse to hitting up her predecessor for some tips. "I'm sure I’ll get some pointers from [Faith]," she noted. "She knows all the ins and outs so she can help a girl out."
Hill herself approved of her new replacement: "Congrats to Carrie!! An awesome choice by the guys at NBC/SNF. She'll rock it," she tweeted on Wednesday.
Underwood will make her "Sunday Night Football" debut September 8, which will be "SNF"'s first broadcast of the 2013 NFL season featuring the Dallas Cowboys vs. the New York Giants. As Hill did before her, Underwood will then usher in "Sunday Night Football" every week throughout the season.
Fans began speculating Monday that Underwood may have been tapped for "SNF" when the country superstar tweeted that she had some "great news" that she'd share on Tuesday. (At least, some of them got the speculation right--others seemed to have other ideas. Underwood herself tweeted, "From now on, any time I say I have good news, I'm going to have to follow it up with the hashtag #NoImNotPregnant" immediately after.)
Hill performed the opening theme starting in 2007 before announcing her retirement following the 2012 season. She called the decision "difficult" and "kinda emotional," but tweeted that she felt it was time to let someone else "rock the open."
Prior to Hill, pop singer Pink performed the opener for one season.