ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown Notes and Quotes: Week 3

Sunday NFL Countdown logoESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown host Chris Berman and analysts Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson, Keyshawn Johnson and Ray Lewis previewed today’s NFL action with Insiders Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter. Excerpts:

On the Ray Rice case… 

Lewis: “This is one of those situations that – it’s family. I’ve spent 17 years of my career at this one place. I’ve known Ozzie Newsome now over 19 years of my career, of my life. That’s half of my life. I’ve known Steve Bisciotti over 15 years of my life. And each one of those men – bottom line – has never lied to me, once. They’ve given me an opportunity at life to change not only my life but my family’s life as well as my kids’ life. If this incident, what we’re dealing with, if they could do this all over again, they would.”

Jackson: “Until these men in these offices on Park Avenue really care about the women involved in these incidents we are not going to have real change. The good part of this – public pressure, political pressure, corporate sponsorship – I don’t care why it happens. They are going to be brought kicking and screaming to the table – to the table of resolving this problem.”  

On Adrian Peterson and what’s next for the Vikings…

Carter: “For me, the best thing for Adrian Peterson is not to be on the football field and to work on this case and to work on the relationships that he has with his kids… I hope Adrian gets the help that he needs because if he doesn’t, he will never put the purple on. You talk about the sponsors, you talk about the fan pressure, also the Vikings – the former Vikings players also have called that office and voiced their disappointment with the overall situation. And the reason why is because there was once an organization that cared about the players, on and off the field. And to me, this Adrian Peterson thing has been a Band-Aid now that needs an operation.”

On the Commissioner’s comments at Friday’s press conference…

Jackson: “I thought it lacked substance. I thought that it was a lot of what I had expected. I knew that the questions that were going to come were going to be very difficult. Unanswerable when you have handled the situation as ineptly as it had been handled up to that point. So, we heard a lot of – and you know, it’s always nice to hear somebody say I made a mistake and I’m sorry, but I didn’t think that there was any substance as to what we are going to really do going forward to change what happened over the course of the last few weeks and what happened over the course of the last few weeks is not over yet, and he knows that.”

Johnson: “I wasn’t satisfied. To me it was like a dance show. Felt like I was looking at a heavy politician, reading notes and a script that was given. It was very – he was like robotic. This is what you say, stay to the script. I think when you look at that and we’re all looking for answers – there were some answers, there yeah – we’re going to do some things, we’re going to have some things in place by the time we get to the Super Bowl, but by the time you get to the Super Bowl, how many other problems are going to come up?”

More from Jackson: I do think that the women who are now – Lisa Friel and company – the women who are in the league office, I think that I already see their influence, because the advice he got up until the press conference this week has been definitively better than the advice he got before that.”

Carter: “I like the apology, but I’d like to see a little more emotion about all the people that we had hurt being associated with the National Football League the last couple weeks. I didn’t see any empathy for the victims.”

On the biggest challenge for the 2-0 Buffalo Bills who face the San Diego Chargers today…

Lewis: “Their biggest problem is actually their quarterback and that is, can he manage these games with this much talent around him?”

Jackson: “I think the biggest challenge is to stop the San Diego Chargers from running the football… that’s the problem the Bills will have today: how often will you have the football?”

Johnson: “I know Philip Rivers is the quarterback, but [Antonio] Gates is the key. The Buffalo Bills have to figure out how to neutralize him.”

Ditka: “One play, one game at a time; that’s their biggest challenge right now. Don’t get ahead of yourself. You’re 2-0. I don’t care who you beat. You want to win this football game, you gotta do certain things. You gotta play good, solid defense. You gotta put some pressure on Rivers. Rivers is playing quarterback as good as anybody in football right now.”

Carter: “And they must take advantage of home field… Also as young players, which you guys mentioned, the consistency week in and week out. Will they be able to maintain that?”

On quarterback Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers vs. the Arizona Cardinals…

Lewis: “Colin Kaepernick, he’s a great athlete. Probably one of the greatest quarterbacks that we’ve seen athletic-wise, but he had the same three picks that he threw [against] Chicago that he threw in the Championship game last year against Seattle.”

Jackson: “Until the decision making goes with the athletic ability, I think that things are going to be problematic for him [Kaepernick].”

Johnson: “The secondary can confuse him [Kaepernick]. When they start changing things and that’s where those interceptions come into play. He tries to create things that he shouldn’t with his feet. Okay, we all know he’s a great athlete, he can run around. But he has a ton of weapons around him. He has to utilize those guys and allow them to win the football games for him, like the great quarterbacks if he wants to be considered that. And the only way the San Francisco 49ers are going to get back to the championship game or win the division, it has to start with him making smart choices at the quarterback spot.”

Ditka: “The first thing Arizona has to do – keep him [Kaepernick] in the pocket. Make him beat you with his arm. I don’t think he can.”

On Peyton Manning vs. the Seattle Seahawks Defense…

Jackson: “It’s such a tremendous psychological test for the Denver Broncos. Yes, it begins with Peyton Manning. But everything they did in the offseason was about adding toughness to this football team. And I don’t want to take the pressure off of Peyton Manning, but he is not going to have success if they run the ball for 27 yards the way they did in the Super Bowl and become as predictable as they did throwing the football.” 

Lewis: “You’re talking about one of the most physical defenses that we’ve seen play football in a very long time… If you want to attack the Seattle Seahawks, the way the San Francisco 49ers do, you must run the ball in between the tackles.”

Carter: “Denver is better offensively, but this is the truth – that 12th man, it’s real. Alright. And they will play a factor in this game. But also, Seattle’s offense is better. Alright. Their receivers are better.”

On quarterbacks Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers and Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers – are they in trouble against the defense today?

Ditka: “Big Ben’s in more trouble, there’s no question about it. This front seven of the Carolina Panthers is really good. And they don’t have to blitz to get after you.”

Jackson: “I think Cam Newton, not a 100 percent. Doesn’t have the weaponry around him… And Ben Roethlisberger, let’s remember – two rings and a third appearance in a Super Bowl because he creates his own offense and his feet right now – he’s healthy and he’s moving those feet.”

–30–

ESPN Sunday Night Baseball Media Alert: Curt Schilling to Debut for Yankees-Orioles This Weekend

ESPN-MLBCurt Schilling to Resume Sunday Night Baseball Role This Weekend for Yankees-Orioles

Three-time World Series Champion Curt Schilling, who resumed his ESPN MLB analyst role Thursday on Baseball Tonight, will make his official Sunday Night Baseball debut with Dan Shulman, John Kruk and reporter Buster Olney on Sunday, September 14, when the New York Yankees visit the first-place Baltimore Orioles. The telecast will begin at 8 p.m. ET and will be available on ESPN and WatchESPN.

ESPN announced Schilling was joining the Sunday Night Baseball booth last December. In February, Schilling announced he had been diagnosed with cancer.

Schilling will resume his analyst role in time to call what is expected to be Derek Jeter’s final Sunday Night Baseball appearance. It will mark Jeter’s 71st career appearance on “baseball’s biggest stage,” more than any other player.

Sunday Night Baseball presented by Taco Bell is also available on ESPN Radio, ESPN Deportes and ESPN Deportes Radio.

-30-

ESPN NFL Content Update – Week 2

Sunday NFL Countdown logoSunday NFL Countdown: Chris Berman Conversation with Pete Carroll; Bengals’ Devon Still; Vikings Cordarrelle Patterson; and More 

Sunday NFL Countdown will preview the NFL’s week 2 games on September 14 beginning at 10 a.m. Chris Berman will host the three-hour pregame show with analysts Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson, Keyshawn Johnson and Ray Lewis. Reporter/host Wendi Nix will host segments, and NFL insiders Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter will report the day’s headlines and news.

Reporters covering Sunday games:

Features

  • William Gay and Domestic Violence: In 2012, Monday Night Countdown essayist Rick Reilly profiled current Steelers cornerback William Gay, whose mother was abused and shot to death by his abusive stepfather. In light of the Ray Rice case, Countdown revisits the story of Gay, who now volunteers at shelters for abused women.
  • Pete Carroll’s Journey: Berman visits with Seattle Seahawks’ Pete Carroll to discuss the Super Bowl-winning coach’s journey from subpar coaching stints with the Jets and Patriots through a historic run at the University of Southern California, and now to Seattle, where he has helped mold the Seahawks into the league’s best team.
  • Cordarrelle Patterson: Minnesota receiver Cordarrelle Patterson is currently under the tutelage of longtime and famed Vikings wide receivers coach George Stewart, who has coached “receiving royalty” in the NFL – Jerry Rice, Cris Carter, Randy Moss and Terrell Owens to name a few. Stewart tells Countdown’s Jim Trotter that Patterson has the same skill-set that may lead to similar greatness.
  • Devon Still: After cutting Devon Still last week, the Cincinnati Bengals signed the third-year defensive tackle to their practice squad so he can keep his health insurance to take care of his four year-old daughter stricken by cancer. Entering Sunday’s game against the visiting Falcons, the Bengals coaching staff moved Still to the active roster. Countdown’s Michelle Beisner reports on the Bengals’ loyalty and Still’s gratitude.
  • Rex Ryan Soundtracks: The Jets head coach, wired for sound during the team’s season-opening win at home over the Raiders, will be featured on Sunday’s “Soundtracks.”

ESPN’s Monday Night Football: Andrew Luck and the Colts Host Nick Foles and the Eagles

Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts host Nick Foles and the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday Night Football on September 15 at 8:15 p.m. ET on ESPN (kickoff is 8:30 p.m.). MNF play-by-play announcer Mike Tirico and analyst Jon Gruden will call the game from Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis with sideline reporter Lisa Salters.

MNF is available on ESPN Deportes and via WatchESPN. ESPN’s Weekly NFL Programming Schedule.

The Monday Night Countdown pregame begins at 6 p.m. Chris Berman hosts the show from ESPN’s studios in Bristol, Conn., with analysts Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson and Keyshawn Johnson and Insiders Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter. Trent Dilfer, Ray Lewis and Steve Young join Countdown from Indianapolis.

Monday Night Countdown highlights:

  • Andrew Luck: Andrew Luck’s on-field performance has firmly established the Colts quarterback as one of the league’s best. MNF reporter Lisa Salters sits for a one-on-one interview with Luck.
  • Gruden’s Grill Session: MNF analyst and Super Bowl-winning coach Jon Gruden will visit with an Eagles player (TBD) to preview the Monday Night matchup.
  • Rick Reilly’s Feature – Ben Utecht: Former Colts tight end Ben Utecht is a musician, soon releasing his debut album. One of his songs is inspired by an emotional letter he wrote to his wife and kids asking that the letter be opened only if/when Ben loses his memory of them. Utecht fears his football concussions have created pockets in his life that he can’t remember – unable to remember being in his friend’s wedding even when he sees pictures of the event.  Countdown essayist Rick Reilly sits with Utecht and his wife, Karyn, to discuss the former footballer’s fears about the future, and also his work speaking before Congress about concussion awareness and reform.
  • E:60 – LeSean McCoy’s Family Life: With videogame-like moves, Eagles running back LeSean McCoy is one of the NFL’s most dynamic players. Off the field, McCoy is a single dad, with primary custody of his two-year old son, Salters reports in an E:60 profile.

NFL Drives ESPN Digital Media to Record Audiences on Sunday, Sept. 7

Driven by the kickoff of the 2014 NFL season, ESPN Digital Media recorded its best day ever on Sunday, Sept. 7,  with an average audience of 1 million people across platforms, eclipsing the previous high of 866,000 set on Sunday, Sept. 15 (Week 2 of 2013 NFL season).  Much of the growth was attributed to the ESPN.com mobile Web and ESPN Fantasy Football app, up 25 percent and 73 percent, respectively, compared to the previous year.

Additionally, ESPN.com across platforms logged 24.8 million unique visitors (up 13 percent from Week 1 a year ago) on Sunday, the second-best day ever behind only Thursday, June 26, during the group stage of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Engagement with ESPN on social platforms was also significant, with more than 240,000 Twitter users interacting with @ESPN, @SportsCenter and ESPN’s NFL accounts on Sunday, 55 percent more than key accounts of its five closest competitors combined.

The Monday Night Football doubleheader on Monday, Sept. 8, also logged audience growth on WatchESPN, with the Giants vs. Lions game generating 335,000 live unique viewers (up 31 percent compared to the previous year).  The Chargers vs. Cardinals game more than doubled its audience (up 114 percent) with 366,000 live unique viewers.

espnW: Ray Rice and Roger Goodell Reaction

espnW.com has continuing coverage from Jane McManus on the latest in the NFL and the Ray Rice case, and Kate Fagan discusses whether NFL commissioner Roger Goodell should resign. Also, W columnists Fagan and Sarah Spain voice their opinions about the Rice case in the latest W Debate: Who Botched Their Case More.

ESPN Analyst and Three-Time Patriots Super Bowl Champ Tedy Bruschi Honored with Football Legacy Award at ‘The Tradition’ in Boston

ESPN NFL analyst Tedy Bruschi will be presented with the Football Legacy Award at The Sports Museum’s 13th annual event, ‘The Tradition,’ on Wednesday, Sept. 17, at the TD Garden in Boston. A three-time Super Bowl champion with Patriots, Bruschi was drafted by New England in 1996 and spent his entire 13-year career with the team. He is also a member of the Patriots Hall of Fame. ESPN’s Chris Berman will also attend and present sports radio personality Eddie Andelman with the Media Legacy Award.

-30-

Start Times Set for ‘New Year’s Six’ Bowls on ESPN

2010 -- ESPN College Football LogoESPN will reclaim New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day for college football when it exclusively televises all six bowl games under the new College Football Playoff rotation system including the two College Football Playoff Semifinals.

Starting on Wednesday, Dec. 31, at 12:30 p.m. ET, ESPN will televise the first of the ‘New Year’s Six’ bowl games with the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. At  4 p.m., fans will see the Fiesta Bowl followed by the Orange Bowl at 8 p.m.

ESPN will jumpstart New Year’s Day with the Cotton Bowl at 12:30 p.m. Then, the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual will be aired at 5 p.m. followed by the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Allstate Sugar Bowl at 8:30 p.m. Additional programming surrounding all the bowls will be announced at a later date. The complete schedule:

Date Time (ET) Bowl
Wed, Dec. 31 12:30 p.m. Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl
4 p.m. Fiesta Bowl
8 p.m. Orange Bowl
Thu, Jan. 1 12:30 p.m. Cotton Bowl
5 p.m. The Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual
8:30 p.m. Allstate Sugar Bowl

College Football Playoff on ESPN

ESPN will begin its 12-year agreement to exclusively televise the College Football Playoff with the 2014-15 season featuring the four top teams as selected by the College Football Playoff Selection Committee. The Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual and the Allstate Sugar Bowl will host the first College Football Playoff Semifinals which will pit No. 1 versus No. 4 and No. 2 versus No. 3 on January 1, 2015. The winners of those two games will face off in the inaugural College Football Playoff National Championship at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas on January 12, 2015.

Previous announcements of ESPN’s College Football Playoff coverage:

ESPN to Exclusively Televise MLB NL Wild Card Game Oct. 1

ESPN-MLBMultiplatform Wild Card Coverage across ESPN Deportes, ESPN International & ESPN Audio

For the first time, ESPN will exclusively televise Major League Baseball’s National League Wild Card Game presented by Budweiser on Wednesday, Oct. 1 (start time is TBD). The Sunday Night Baseball team – play-by-play voice Dan Shulman, analyst John Kruk and reporter Buster Olney – will provide commentary for the telecast. Baseball Tonight will precede the NL Wild Card Game with a one-hour pre-game show.

The NL Wild Card Game will also be available on ESPN Deportes and on ESPN International platforms in Latin America, the Pacific Rim, the Caribbean and cruise ships.

ESPN Audio, the national radio home of the Major League Baseball postseason, will broadcast both the NL and AL Wild Card Games. The AL Wild Card Game is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 30.

NL Wild Card on WatchESPN

The NL Wild Card Game will also be available via WatchESPN, accessible online at WatchESPN.com, on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app, and streamed on televisions through Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, Xbox 360 or Xbox One to fans who receive their video subscription from an affiliated provider.

ESPN’s exclusive, annual Wild Card telecast is a highlight under the company’s new, multiplatform rights agreement with MLB, which went into effect this year. ESPN will also televise all potential MLB tiebreaker games on Monday, September 29. 2014 marks ESPN’s 25th Major League Baseball season.

For additional details on ESPN’s Major League Baseball coverage, please visit ESPN Media Zone and ESPN Front Row.

-30-

Curt Schilling to Resume ESPN MLB Analyst Role Starting Thursday

ESPN-MLBSchilling Discusses Cancer Battle in Interview with Karl Ravech on Tonight’s 6pm ET SportsCenter

Three-time World Series Champion Curt Schilling will rejoin ESPN and resume his MLB analyst role starting with Thursday’s 10 p.m. ET edition of Baseball Tonight (ESPN2). Schilling will appear on the set with ESPN MLB Insiders Buster Olney, Tim Kurkjian, Jayson Stark and Keith Law from the Baseball Tonight studio at ESPN’s Bristol, Conn. campus.

In addition, Schilling will discuss his recent cancer battle in a special interview with Karl Ravech on tonight’s (Tuesday) 6 p.m. edition of SportsCenter. Watch preview.

The interview will also be shown during tonight’s midnight edition of Baseball Tonight on ESPN2 and it will be available on ESPN.com’s MLB section. Schilling announced he had cancer earlier this year.

Phil Orlins, ESPN senior coordinating producer, on Schilling’s return: “We are ecstatic to have Curt’s passionate and insightful commentary back on our baseball coverage, but most importantly, we are all thrilled to see Curt healthy and strong again.”

Schilling joined ESPN as a Baseball Tonight analyst in 2010. During the 2013 Baseball Winter Meetings, ESPN announced Schilling had been added to the Sunday Night Baseball booth, alongside Dan Shulman and John Kruk. He will return to the road for Sunday Night Baseball as soon as he is comfortable.

-30-

ESPN’s “Sunday NFL Countdown” Notes and Quotes: Week One

Sunday NFL Countdown logoNew Studio; NFL Suspensions; Short Leash for Brian Hoyer; RGIII Resurgence; and more

ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown host Chris Berman and analysts Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson and Keyshawn Johnson previewed today’s NFL action with insiders Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter – the first show from its new state-of-the-art 9,000 square foot NFL studio on ESPN’s Bristol, Conn., campus.

In addition to Sunday NFL Countdown, the new Studio W, located in Digital Center 2, will be the new home for all other ESPN NFL studio programs – NFL Insiders, NFL Live, NFL PrimeTime and Monday Night Countdown.

Some excerpts from today’s show:

Inside Slant: Concerns about suspensions in the league?

Jackson: “These are separate and different things: One is PED, substance abuse, guys trying to enhance their performance on the field. I think you are always going to have some of that. There’ll always be guys willing to cheat. Am I overly concered about it? Not a lot because there are 1,800 players in the National Football League, 39 is not a big number.

“But some of the violent activity – when you start talking about domestic violence, when you start talking about issues that we’ve had over the last couple years … I think that some of these players are finding it very difficult to take the violence that you need in-between the lines and leave it in-between the lines when they leave the stadium and they go home to their personal lives. For some of them, it is very difficult. I know the league does a lot of preemptive things to try to help them. Maybe, they need to do more.”

Johnson: “I am concerned about all three phases, whether it is street drugs, whether it is domestic violence, whether it is executives getting into trouble at Denver Broncos or Jim Irsay, or whoever the case maybe. It simply states in the bylaws what you can and cannot do. People will go so far to break rules to win football games, to make the money.”

Is Cleveland Browns’ Brian Hoyer on a short leash?

Jackson: “He cannot survive this. I can give you an example today, as you watch this show, we’ve seen Johnny Manziel come out to the stadium. We’ve seen Johnny Manziel warming up. We’ve seen Johnny Manziel selling snickers. He’s not even scheduled to play. When I think about what Brian Hoyer is up against, the most polarizing figure in the National Football League, I reflect back on Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow, and Tim Tebow couldn’t even throw. Yet, you knew at some point, he was going to have the starting job. Brian Hoyer has been around this league to know that at some point – I don’t know whether it will come week 4, the bye week, or some week after that, or maybe next week – the job will belong to Johnny Manziel and everybody knows it.”

Carter: “Regardless of how long the leash is or not, we know when they draft you in the first round you are going to play. They are paying you, you are going to eventually play. Johnny Football has to make this determination right now – do I want to be famous or do I want to be unforgettable? There is a difference. There are a lot of people that are famous in life. In the National Football League, … the expectation is an average 3.5 years for your career over the last 25 years.  That’s your career. Now, can he concentrate over that and work at his craft, and be a great football player. He can be a good player in this league. You can’t be a celebrity quarterback anymore.

Ron Jaworski reflects on Brian Hoyer as the Browns’ starting quarterback:

“What we saw is that Brian Hoyer is a system quarterback. He depends on other people to help him do his job. So, for him to do his job, Ben Tate (RB) has to show up, Terrance West (RB) has to show up, Jordan Cameron (TE) has to show up, Miles Austin (WR) has to show up, and they have to run the football and stay out of the known passing situations.

“If Brian Hoyer wins, he will keep the job. If he loses, then here comes Johnny Manziel.”

Resurgence for RGIII?

Jackson: “Availability is everything in this league. It is about staying healthy and being able to line up every week … He just needs to learn to protect himself, then he’ll have the chance to be a great football player.”

Johnson: “I want to see a better guy than I saw in the pre-season. I want to see a guy who embraces this offense, who wants to do the right things for this system and not rely on running the football. Sit in the pocket. Deliver it on a three-step drop. You have some wonderful toys there, play with them.”

Ditka: “He (RGIII) wants to do that. There’s one problem, this is not the ‘Hogs’ of the 80s. This offensive line, he can sue them for non-support.”

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo vs. the San Francisco 49ers defense:

Johnson: “If they can run the ball with (DeMarco) Murray, and play-action pass, then they can become effective and take charge of this football game. That’s one thing Tony is capable of doing. When he has a running game, he is a totally different quarterback. Prior to back surgery last year, he was playing phenomenal.”

Carter: “To wrap up the Tony Romo situation, (Cowboys Owner/GM) Jerry Jones has not put Super Bowl caliber personnel around him. So, all the pressure is on him to play perfect. He can play a great game and they still lose. All the blame will be placed on Tony Romo. He cannot carry the load by himself … The teammates he has, they are not up to Tony Romo’s standard of playing.” 

On Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals at AFC Central rivals Baltimore Ravens:

Johnson: “When you look at these quarterbacks that sign these big deals … you are looking for him (Andy Dalton) to take a step forward. We know what they (the Bengals) have on defense. Now is the time for you to be the leader on offense and get your team beyond one game in the playoffs.”

Carter: “Look for Hue Jackson, who is taking over the offensive coordinator role from Jay Gruden. Watch the new wrinkles. They’ve been successful on offense, every new coordinator puts in a couple wrinkles, let’s see how he adds that to Dalton’s game.”

Ditka: “These guys are being paid as top quarterbacks, they have to become consistently good, not bad.”

Jackson: “This defense was the only one, top-5 across the board in every category – the Cincinnati Bengals.”

Tom Jackson on the Carolina Panthers:

“When you start talking about the Carolina Panthers, they have the formula for ultimate success – a strong running game with DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart and they have the reigning defensive MVP … Not Richard Sherman. Not J.J. Watt. Best defensive player in the league, Luke Kuechly. Play defense like they do, get your quarterback to throw a couple hundred yards, you have a chance of playing in Arizona.”

–30–

ESPN NFL Content Update – 2014 Kickoff Weekend

Sunday NFL Countdown logoESPN Debuts New NFL Studios on Sunday NFL Countdown, Kicks Off 45th Season of Monday Night Football

New NFL Studio Debuts with Season-Opening Sunday NFL Countdown; Features: Tony Romo Conversation, Celebrity Quarterbacks, Frank Caliendo Returns, and more

ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown Presented by Snickers will preview the first weekend of the 2014 NFL season beginning at 10 a.m. with host Chris Berman and analysts Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson and Keyshawn Johnson and Insiders Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter. Sunday’s show will mark the debut of the Countdown’s new, state-of-the-art 9,000 square foot NFL studio.

Reporter/host Wendi Nix will make her in-studio Countdown debut as host for select segments with Ron Jaworski. Correspondents – Josina Anderson, Ed Werder, Bob Holtzman, Michele Steele and Sal Paolantonio – return, and will be joined by new arrivals Michelle Beisner (features reporter), Jim Trotter (reporter) and Britt McHenry (Washington, D.C. bureau reporter). Each week, the show’s film room gurus Merril Hoge and Ron Jaworski will alternate in-studio appearances, while the other travels to one of the marquee 1 p.m. games for live reports with either SportsCenter anchor Lindsay Czarniak or Paolantonio. Countdown’s week 1 game assignments:

  • Browns at Steelers (Paolantonio and Hoge)
  • Raiders at Jets (Anderson)
  • Redskins at Texans (McHenry)
  • Patriots at Dolphins (Steele)
  • 49ers at Cowboys (Werder)
  • Colts at Broncos (Holtzman)

Week 1 Countdown features:

  • Tony Romo Conversation: Tony Romo is set to make his first regular-season start Sunday following successful off-season back surgery. The Dallas Cowboys quarterback sits for a one-on-one conversation with new Countdown reporter Michelle Beisner.
  • The Return of Frank Caliendo: Impressionist and comedian Frank Caliendo plays Cowboys owner Jerry Jones overseeing the construction of ESPN’s new Countdown studio in Bristol. Other characters in the piece include Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.
  • Browns’ Kickboxing Gloves: As NFL defenses learn to adjust to the renewed emphasis on defensive holding infractions, the Cleveland Browns have found a unique training tool – kickboxing gloves for their defensive backs to use in practice. ESPN analyst and three-time Super Bowl champ Darren Woodson finds out how Browns defensive backs Joe Haden and Justin Gilbert are coping with their new gloves.
  • Celebrity Quarterbacks: On the heels of quarterback Johnny Manziel’s first season on an NFL team roster, Jim Trotter, in his first report for Countdown, takes a look at the impact of celebrity quarterbacks through the years, including interviews with Joe Namath and others.
  • Where You At?: Countdown’s Cris Carter returns with his hard-hitting, weekly recurring segment during which he points out players who are performing below the Hall of Famer’s acceptable standards.

Full release with details on ESPN’s coverage of the 2014 NFL season.

Season-Opening MNF Doubleheader: Giants vs. Lions and Chargers vs. Cardinals

ESPN kicks off the 45th season of Monday Night Football on September 8 with a doubleheader: Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions host Eli Manning and the New York Giants at 7 p.m. ET, and Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers face Larry Fitzgerald and the Arizona Cardinals at 10:15 p.m.

MNF play-by-play announcer Mike Tirico, analyst Jon Gruden and sideline reporter Lisa Salters will call the early game from Ford Field, while Chris Berman, analyst Trent Dilfer and reporter Lindsay Czarniak cover the Chargers-Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium, which will host Super Bowl XLIX in February. Both games will be available on ESPN Deportes and WatchESPN. MNF Photos.

Trey Wingo will host a two-hour Monday Night Countdown pregame (5 p.m.) with analysts Carter, Ditka, Jackson and Johnson and Insiders Mortensen and Schefter from the ESPN studios. Suzy Kolber and NFL analysts Ray Lewis and Steve Young will join from Detroit.  In addition, game crews will report from both sites.

Monday Night Countdown highlights:

  • Gruden’s Grill Session with Reggie Bush: MNF’s Super Bowl-winning coach will conduct an in-depth interview each week this season with a marquee player in the MNF matchup. Monday’s debut of the series will feature Lions running back Reggie Bush, fresh off a 1,000-yard rushing season in 2013.
  • Tom Coughlin Conversation: Salters interviews two-time Super Bowl-winning head coach Tom Coughlin as he begins his 11th season with the Giants.
  • Rick Reilly Feature – Rashard Mendenhall: Rashard Mendenhall always viewed himself as much more than a football player. He proved it this past spring when he walked away from millions of dollars in the prime of his career.  The former running back is now writing the second chapter of his professional life as a writer for a new HBO series, reports Monday Night Countdown essayist Rick Reilly.
  • Denzel Washington Interview: Oscar-winning actor Denzel Washington joins the show live from Ford Field to discuss his love for the NFL and his upcoming movie, “The Equalizer.”

MNF Debuts Virtual On-field Graphics Using SpiderCam

For the first time, ESPN will utilize virtual on-field graphics from SpiderCam beginning with the Giants-Lions MNF game. The graphics will appear in three-dimensional form on the field. They will initially appear coming out of commercial breaks and during other breaks in the action.

An ncam camera tracking system will be attached to the SpiderCam, which travels on cables from the top of the stadium to field level. The multi-sensor ncam bar uses two-wide angle lenses and sensors to determine the SpiderCam position relative to the field.  The camera information is sent to a server where ESPN Chief Technologist Michael Gay interprets the data and places the virtual graphics in the correct on-field positions.

This is the first time the ncam camera tracking system has ever been paired with a suspended camera, like SpiderCam.  ESPN first tested ncam during the 2014 X Games in Austin, paired with a SteadiCam.

ESPN Radio Kicks Off 2014 NFL Season: Sunday Game, Mike & Mike in Detroit

ESPN Radio’s coverage of Sunday afternoon NFL regular-season games will kick off its second year with an AFC East matchup as Tom Brady and the New England Patriots take on Ryan Tannehill and the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, Sept. 7, at 1 p.m. Marc Kestecher, Louis Riddick and reporter Ian Fitzsimmons will call the game, the first of 17 regular-season games on ESPN Radio this year.  Full Release

On Monday, ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike will broadcast live from Ford Field (6-10 a.m.) as part of the third annual, nine-stop ESPN Audio Fall Football Tour.  Hosts Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic will be on site to preview the evening’s Giants-Lions matchup, as well as recap and discuss the weekend’s top sports headlines. The broadcast will be open to the public (Gate G entrance opens at 5:30 a.m.).

ESPN The Magazine’s Renegades Issue – Ndamukong Suh, Jimmy Graham and Jerry Jones

The new Renegades Issue of ESPN The Magazine, on newsstands Friday, includes profiles on three dynamic personalities in the NFL – Detroit Lions’ Ndamukong Suh, New Orleans Saints’ Jimmy Graham and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. In the Suh cover story, senior writer Elizabeth Merrill asks the question: Does anybody really know Ndamukong Suh?, a portrait of the misunderstood athlete at the top of his game.

  • Skimming the Surface – Jimmy Graham: Kevin Van Valkenburg writes about the tension-filled relationship Saints Pro Bowl tight end Jimmy Graham shares with his head coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees.
  • Jerry Jones: Granted unprecedented access to Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Don Van Natta delivers a revealing profile of one of NFL’s leading visionaries.

ESPN.com Presents “Moment in Time” – A Fail Mary Flashback

A team of ESPN.com writers – Rob Demovsky, Michael C. Wright, Terry Blount and Michael Rothstein – take a look back at the controversial “Fail Mary” play ending to the Packers-Seahawks game on September 24, 2012, through the eyes of the figures involved.

E:60 Feature on Buffalo Bills Wide Receiver Marquise Goodwin

ESPN’s newsmagazine program E:60 will feature Buffalo Bills second-year receiver Marquise Goodwin on Tuesday, Sept. 9, at 8 p.m. on ESPN. In the profile, E:60 tells the story of how Goodwin is trying to find NFL success and security in order to afford to build a house for his younger sister, Teja, who has cerebral palsy.

espnW: Third Season of In the Game with Robin Roberts presented by Lexus Premieres September 4

The third season of espnW’s In the Game with Robin Roberts premieres on espnW.com today, Sept. 4, with an in-depth discussion with Michael Sam, the first openly gay player in the NFL. The show, a series of interviews with some of the most newsworthy athletes in sports today, is hosted by Roberts, the former ESPN SportsCenter anchor and current Good Morning America host. Additional details

ESPN Anchors Enter the Fantasy Draft in Latest “This is SportsCenter” Spot

ESPN’s latest “This is SportsCenter” spot shows how NFL mascots, players, cheerleaders and officials get their fantasy fix with “Fantasy SportsCenter” – via a draft of the flagship news program’s anchors from Scott Van Pelt to Bob Ley, Hannah Storm to John Anderson.

The new 30-second spot, titled “Fantasy,” depicts a packed draft room that includes New York Giants’ Victor Cruz and New Orleans Saints’ Jimmy Graham along with Philadelphia Eagles’ mascot Swoop, New England Patriots’ mascot Pat the Patriot, two New York Jets cheerleaders and SportsCenter anchors Kevin Negandhi and Bram Weinstein.

ESPN Fantasy Footballthe industry’s most popular fantasy football game, is kicking off its 19th season in 2014. The game is free for all fans and is accompanied by a full array of content and features across ESPN platforms — online, mobile, television, audio and more — with the most comprehensive collection of expert analysis, news, tools and statistical information in fantasy sports.  More details on ESPN’s comprehensive product and content offering for fantasy football can be found here.

-30-

Federer’s Sparkling Comeback Gives ESPN Its Third-Highest US Open Tennis Overnight

espn-logo
Federer’s Sparkling Comeback Gives ESPN Its Third-Highest US Open Tennis Overnight; New York Top Market at 2.8
Roger Federer’s comeback from two sets down, including saving two match points, to defeat Gael Monfils in an exciting three-hour and 21-minute quarterfinal match last night, garnered ESPN a 1.6 overnight rating, the third-highest US Open tennis rating in the company’s six years of televising the Open and its highest number since 2009 (two 1.9 overnights).
 
“New York is known for great theatre and last night fans were treated to a thrilling drama featuring two compelling stars, a fitting finale to our sixth year of singles coverage at the US Open and a great springboard to the launch of ESPN’s exclusive coverage in 2015,” said Jason Bernstein, ESPN senior director, programming and acquisitions.
 
The top-rated markets for last night’s telecast, on a very competitive night, were:
New York – 2.8
Washington, DC – 2.5
Ft. Myers – 2.4
Miami-Ft. Lauderdale – 2.3
Louisville – 2.3
West Palm Beach – 2.3
Richmond – 2.1
Houston – 2.0

Philadelphia – 2.0
Baltimore – 2.0
 
ESPN2’s live coverage of the 2014 US Open will conclude Sunday at 12:30 p.m. ET with the Men’s Doubles Championship featuring the Bryan Brothers (Bob and Mike) from the United States going for their 100th career title and 16th win in a major tournament. They will face Marcel Granollers and Marc López of Spain.
ESPN2 & US Open 2014
Date Time (ET) Event Network
Sun Sep 7 12:30 – 2:30 p.m. US Open Men’s Doubles Championship ESPN2
8:30 – 9:30 p.m. SportsCenter at the US Open ESPN2
 
ESPN & the US Open in 2015
In May 2013, ESPN and the USTA announced that ESPN would be the exclusive home in North and South America of the US Open from first ball through the women’s and men’s championships each summer from New York beginning in 2015.  ESPN has televised approximately100 hours of live US Open matches annually since 2009, and will air 130+  hours with the addition of day-long coverage of the “middle weekend” – Saturday, Sunday and Labor Day Monday – plus both the men’s and women’s semifinals and finals.  The 11-year agreement also includes expanded digital and international rights.
 
-30-
 

 

ESPN NFL Commentators Share Predictions for the 2014 Season

espn-logo

Thirty-five ESPN NFL commentators offer their predictions for the 2014 NFL season below. Each expert was asked to give his/her pick for AFC and NFC Conference Champion, Super Bowl Champion and NFL MVP, and the 2013 winners of both conferences are again the favorites.

The Denver Broncos lead the way with 16 votes to win the AFC (followed by the Patriots, 13) and 10 votes to be crowned winners of Super Bowl XLIX in Arizona in February. The defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks earned 15 NFC votes and nine votes to win the Super Bowl. The New Orleans Saints also fared well with 14 votes to win the NFC and eight to win the Super Bowl. Saints quarterback Drew Brees was the top vote-getter for league MVP (10 votes), followed by 2013 MVP Peyton Manning (eight), Tom Brady (six) and Aaron Rodgers (five).

 

Commentator AFC Champ NFC Champ Super Bowl Champ League MVP
Eric Allen Denver New Orleans New Orleans
  1. Brees
Jarrett Bell New England New Orleans New England
  1. Brees
Stephania Bell Denver Green Bay Denver
  1. Manning
Chris Berman Baltimore Seattle Seattle
  1. Brady
Andrew Brandt New England Green Bay Green Bay
  1. Rodgers
Mark Brunell Denver New Orleans New Orleans
  1. Brees
Tedy Bruschi New England Seattle New England
  1. Rodgers
Adam Caplan New England Seattle New England
  1. Brady
Cris Carter New England Seattle Seattle
  1. Brady
John Clayton Denver Seattle Seattle
  1. Manning
Brian Dawkins Denver Seattle Denver
  1. Rodgers
Trent Dilfer Denver New Orleans Denver
  1. Manning
Mark Dominik Denver New Orleans Denver
  1. Brees
Ashley Fox Denver San Francisco San Francisco
  1. McCoy
Dan Graziano New England New Orleans New Orleans
  1. Brees
Jon Gruden Denver Seattle Denver
  1. Manning
Tim Hasselbeck New England New Orleans New Orleans
  1. Manning
Merril Hoge Indianapolis Seattle Indianapolis
  1. Wilson
Tom Jackson New England Seattle Seattle
  1. Brady
Ron Jaworski Indianapolis New Orleans New Orleans
  1. Brees
Keyshawn Johnson Denver Seattle Seattle
  1. Manning
Suzy Kolber New England New Orleans New Orleans
  1. Brees
Chris Mortensen New England New Orleans New Orleans
  1. Brees
Wendi Nix Denver San Francisco Denver
  1. McCoy
Antonio Pierce Kansas City Seattle Seattle
  1. Manning
Rick Reilly Denver Green Bay Denver
  1. Rodgers
Louis Riddick Denver Seattle Seattle
  1. Brees
Jeff Saturday Denver Green Bay Denver n/a
Phil Savage Indianapolis New Orleans Indianapolis
  1. Luck
Adam Schefter Indianapolis New Orleans New Orleans
  1. Luck
Mark Schlereth Denver New Orleans Denver
  1. Brees
Jim Trotter New England Seattle New England
  1. Brady
Trey Wingo Denver New Orleans Denver
  1. Rodgers
Darren Woodson New England Seattle Seattle
  1. Manning
Field Yates New England Seattle Seattle
  1. Brady

 –30–