A team of songwriters including a Nebraska native sued country singer Carrie Underwood, the NFL and NBC on Wednesday.
They charge that Underwood, who performs in Nebraska this weekend, stole their song and "slightly modified" it before the NFL and NBC used it to introduce "Sunday Night Football" last season.
The lawsuit in Manhattan federal court noted that Underwood's "Game On" is "substantially — even strikingly — similar, if not identical" to a song by Nebraska native Heidi Merrill, whose song has the same name.
The lawsuit also says Merrill pitched her song to Underwood's producer, but it was rejected.
Merrill, who wrote the song with three others, released her "Game On" in 2017. A Facebook page in her name lists her as having attended Hastings High School and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She lives in California now.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.
The NFL and NBCUniversal Media LLC declined comment. Carrie Underwood's representatives did not immediately comment.
Merrill is perhaps familiar to some Nebraskans for her song, "Cornhusker Strong," which has more than 300,000 views on YouTube. In its music video, Merrill wears a red football jersey, dances in a red dress by a corn field and walks the field at Memorial Stadium.
Following the success of that song, Merrill released "Game On."
The lawsuit said Merrill and her songwriting partners marketed the song in an effort to get it licensed for use in television sports broadcasts. It was used on CBS' "Inside College Basketball."
According to the lawsuit, Merill then pitched the song to one of Underwood's producers at a Nashville event, but the producer passed. It said the producer referred Merrill to his assistant, who told her in an email in October 2017: "I'm sorry, we're going to have to pass."
About a year later, Underwood's "Game On" introduced 17 NFL Sunday night games through the season beginning in September 2018.