It’s been expected for quite some time, and is finally official. Chris Berman will step down as the host of ESPN’s “Sunday NFL Countdown,” “NFL PrimeTime”, “Monday Night Countdown”, “NFL Draft” and “Home Run Derby” after this year’s Super Bowl.
Berman has been a mainstay at ESPN since 1979 and a huge part of the network’s ascension to the top of the sports media world. He’s served as the lead host on ESPN’s NFL studio shows for the past 31 years, and undoubtedly become one of the most high profile personalities in the company’s history.
According to John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal, who originally broke the story, Berman will stay on with ESPN under a new multiyear deal, but in a reduced role.
The plan going forward is to have Berman appear weekly on “Monday Night Countdown,” taping interviews and hosting historical segments about the league. He’ll also have the opportunity to host “NFL PrimeTime” twice a year, once after the Super Bowl, and once after the conference championship games.
In addition, Berman will provide play-by-play for the MLB Division Series on ESPN Radio, and contribute to the ESPYs.
“I like to think of myself as an ESPN lifer,” said Berman. “There really wasn’t any thought of doing anything else. We’ve had a great working relationship extending 38 years.”
ESPN’s Stephanie Druley told Ourand that the new deal came together after months of conversations. “It’s always been about finding the best fit, and Chris has had a say in every part of that. By no means are we pushing him out the door, or even easing him out the door.”
In an emailed statement, ESPN President John Skipper added, “Chris is one of a kind. His innovation, passion, preparation and on-air acumen have helped define ESPN. He wrote the book on delivering highlights which still serves as the standard to this day. We look forward to Chris’ continuing contributions while understanding that his place on our Rushmore is assured.”
Who replaces Berman on the NFL studio shows is yet to be revealed, but needless to say, ESPN’s NFL coverage will certainly have a different look and feel starting with the 2017 season.