ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown Notes and Quotes: Week 5

Sunday NFL Countdown logoESPN’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. Excerpts:

On Andrew Luck vs. the Baltimore Ravens’ defense… 

Ditka: “I like the Colts. They’re leading the league in time of possessions and first downs, and there’s something to that. Well how are they doing that? They’ve got the 18th--ranked rushing game. How do you do it? You got it because you got Andrew Luck. Nine different receivers he hit last week and that’s where they’re doing the job. I mean, you understand, you got so much on defense, but they’re taking it with their offense. Luck is the key to this football team, you know that. I think he’s gonna do it.”

Johnson: “The Ravens’ D is playing pretty good this year, but they haven’t faced a quarterback quite like this with these receivers, and the things that they’re doing at home in that dome I think this offense overall can get the best of the Ravens. It’s the highest scoring offense in the National Football League thus far this year.”

Jackson: “Coach mentioned time of possession – it’s 36 minutes per game for the Colts. That is a remarkable number for Indianapolis. So, what is your best defense? It’s your offense.”

Carter: “They have a combination that we haven’t seen guys. You talked about time of possession, alright, we’ve seen teams that have 35 minutes in time of possession and we’ve seen teams that dominate as far as scoring, leading the league in scoring. But it’s very, very rare do we have both. And that’s what makes Indy – not only are they eating up the clock, but they’re scoring touchdowns once they get in the red zone. So what they do is they put your offense on hurry up because you know they’re going to get a lot of possessions and they’re scoring a lot of points.”

On Peyton Manning vs. the Arizona Cardinals’ defense…

Jackson: “What I’m concerned with is the Broncos being 28th in the league running the football. Because in the end that’s what they’re gonna have to do in order to compete against the San Diegos, the Seattle Seahawks, those teams that they may meet in the Super Bowl and the teams that will challenge them to get to the Super Bowl.”

Ditka: “Both teams have had two weeks to prepare for this game, so that bodes pretty well for Peyton Manning. One thing about the Cardinals they like to blitz a little bit on defense and, you know, that plays right into his hands, but they do a good job of disguising the blitz, so let’s see what happens out there. If they don’t disguise the blitz, Peyton reads it, it’s going to be a long afternoon for the Cardinals.”

Johnson: “Arizona’s defense is physical – there’s no question about it. But it’s not the Seattle Seahawks… And yes, they do need to run the football, but when has Peyton Manning really ever had a true running game?”

On quarterback Kyle Orton: Can he lead the Buffalo Bills?

Carter: “You draft a guy. You trade up last year for him. So you’re basically giving him the keys to the franchise. So less than a year and a half after that, all that confidence and all that intel you did about EJ Manuel, you throw it out the window for Kyle Orton?”

Ditka: “Buffalo is not a good football team. Since 2008, in the last 12 games, the best record they have is 5-7. That’s a fact. They fold at the end of the year. But they’re not a good enough football team to say okay Manuel is the problem. He’s not the problem. They’ve got a lot of problems.”

On struggling young quarterbacks and whether players have an advantage looking at a quarterback compared to personnel people…

Johnson: “We know immediately what he’s doing on and off the field, how he’s preparing, when he’s coming in, if he’s picking up that playbook, if he’s staying late, if he’s coming early, if he’s lifting weights. All of that really does matter when you play any position in the National Football League.”

Jackson: “Nobody gets a better look at the talent of the guy who’s gonna play quarterback than the guys, his teammates around him. And do they all struggle when they come to pro football? Yes. John Elway struggled when he came to pro football. But when I saw him at that initial rookie camp and saw the talent, I was like, told Billy Thompson, we’re going to go to some Super Bowls.”

Carter: “We have more throwers than we’ve ever had in the National Football League. I think that the players are at a disadvantage and I believe the coaches and the general managers are getting fooled because the quarterbacks look like they’re more ready to play, but in college and high school the coaches are making the calls and the reads for them.”

On Alex Smith vs. Colin Kaepernick and which quarterback faces a tougher test…

Carter: “It’s gonna be a tough test for both of them. Alex Smith’s got a tough test going back in, still trying to play within himself. It’s hard to play against a team that’s given up on you because it becomes personal.”

Johnson: “We watched Alex Smith pretty much shred the New England Patriots’ defense. This is totally different. This is the San Francisco 49ers. Even though they’re missing some players, this defense is way better than New England’s. You’re going up to San Francisco, not only the emotional side and the distractions that come with going back into a place that you were drafted to, you had some success at – he doesn’t have the weaponry around him from an offensive standpoint the same way Kaepernick has.”

Jackson: “Look back last week at what they [the 49ers] did to Philly and take the special teams game out of it. They would have skunked the Philadelphia Eagles.”

Ditka: “I think there’s a lot more pressure on Kaepernick. Playing against the guy that he replaced, he wants to make sure he proves to everybody the 49ers made the right decision.”

On San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh…

Ditka: “He’s one of the most competitive individuals I’ve ever been around. And I think that’s good. Contrary to that whole thing over there, it’s good to be competitive, it’s good to want to be the best, it’s good to want to win. And sometimes when you do that, when you’re climbing that mountain, you’re going to rub some people the wrong way. You might step on a few fingers when you’re goin’ up the hill. But he’s doing it the right way. I mean, the guy takes ‘em to the championship game. He’s won 75 percent of his games.”

On the state of the New England Patriots…

Johnson: “When you start believing in I don’t have to have players because my scheme and the Patriot Way works at some point in time is going to catch up to you… you have to have players. And until they learn that you need players in the National Football League – whether it’s through free agency, trade or drafting – they’re going to struggle.”

Jackson: “You can’t have it where we don’t need anybody to win because we can excel with whoever’s on the field, but now we don’t have enough people to win because of who we have on the field.” 


ESPN & NBA Reach Nine-Year Agreement for Significantly Enhanced Multiplatform Rights

NBA-on-ESPN-logoIncreased TV, Digital, Highlights, Data, Audio & International Rights Through 2024-25

·         More Regular-Season Games, Greater Schedule Flexibility and Broader Exclusivity

·         NBA and ESPN Intend to Launch Over-The-Top Offering


image001ESPN has reached a forward-looking, nine-year, multiplatform agreement with the National Basketball Association, beginning with the 2016-17 season, which will significantly enhance the company’s NBA rights and content offerings. The agreement, effective through 2024-25, substantially increases ESPN’s television, digital, highlights, data, audio and International NBA rights. It was announced today by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and ESPN President John Skipper.

In addition, the parties have also established a framework for ESPN and the NBA to negotiate the launch of a new over-the-top offering in which the league would receive equity interest. Details for the new offering would be announced at a future date.

ABC will also remain the exclusive home of the NBA Finals.

In addition to the over-the-top service, the new and enhanced rights also include:

§  10 additional regular-season games for ESPN or ABC bringing the regular season total to 100;

§  10 more exclusive regular-season windows;

§  Increased team appearances to showcase the most popular teams and most compelling matchups more times throughout the season;

§  As part of the new agreement, ESPN will substantially increase its NBA-focused programming with 750 new hours of NBA content on linear and digital platforms, establishing a significant year-round presence for the NBA on ESPN;

§  ESPN has reached a multi-year extension for WNBA rights through 2025, which will include increased in-progress highlights on linear and digital platforms;

§  ESPN International – In Latin America, the Caribbean, Australia and New Zealand, ESPN will carry significantly more exclusive regular-season and playoff games on ESPN platforms, including expanded weekend windows during the regular season, increased first and second round playoff coverage, and the NBA conference finals and NBA Finals (including exclusivity in Australia and New Zealand). Additionally, ESPN will carry more NBA-themed programming throughout the year;

§  Increased ability to use NBA footage and highlights, plus in-progress highlight rights, on all linear and digital ESPN offerings, including, ABC; ESPN; ESPN2; ESPNEWS; ESPN Deportes; ESPN International; ESPN Audio;; ESPN3, WatchESPN, SEC Network, ESPNU, Longhorn Network, Grantland, 538, ESPN Films;

§  Live, national rights to NBA Summer League and NBA D-League across ESPN entities;

§  While increasing its English-language distribution rights, ESPN Audio will become the exclusive Spanish-language national rights holder through ESPN Deportes Radio on terrestrial radio, satellite and all forms of radio devices including digital and third party platforms;

§  Additional regular-season and playoff games for ESPN Deportes and ESPN Deportes+.

The new rights join these extensive continuing elements in the new agreement:

§  ABC will continue to be the exclusive broadcast home of The Finals;

§  The NBA post-season begins and concludes on ESPN networks, as ESPN and ABC combine for up to 44 NBA post-season games, including the Conference Finals;

§  ESPN Audio will continue its 20-plus year tenure as the exclusive, national radio home of the NBA, with coverage of the NBA Finals, NBA Conference Finals, NBA Playoffs, NBA All-Star Game and NBA regular-season games;

§  ESPN and ABC will continue with a significant television presence for NBA Christmas Day, the NBA’s season-opening week and NBA All-Star festivities such as the Celebrity All-Star Game;

§  Season-long prime time games Wednesdays and Fridays on ESPN and Sundays on ESPN and ABC;

§  NBA Finals streamed on ESPN3 or WatchABC and ESPN Deportes;

§  Extensive weekly studio programming on ESPN;

§  ESPN will continue to be the exclusive home to the NBA Draft, NBA Draft Combine and NBA Draft Lottery.

ESPN President John Skipper:

“The NBA has never been more popular and it continues to grow under Adam’s leadership. By acquiring significantly more NBA content for both existing and yet-to-be created platforms, we will establish a vibrant, year-round NBA presence for fans. For ESPN, this agreement continues our fruitful, longstanding relationship with the NBA and bolsters what is already the sports industry’s most impressive and impactful collection of media rights.”

This new agreement will ensure a 23-year continuous relationship between the network and league, which began in 2002. There are two years remaining on the existing rights agreement, which is effective through the 2015-16 season.


Turner Broadcasting and the National Basketball Association Reach Nine-Year Media Rights Extension

nba-on-tntTNT to Add 12 Live Regular Season Games Each Year;

Network to Televise 64-Game Regular Season Schedule Under New Agreement

Enhanced Package of Digital Media Rights for Bleacher Report

Turner Sports to Continue Managing NBA Digital Portfolio Including NBA TV,, NBA Mobile, NBA LEAGUE PASS, &

Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., and the National Basketball Association (NBA) have reached a new nine-year media rights agreement that will include the addition of 12 live regular season games airing on TNT each year and expanded digital media rights and sales opportunities, it was announced today by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and David Levy, President of Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.  Turner Sports will also continue to manage NBA Digital, the league’s robust multimedia portfolio including NBA TV,, NBA Mobile, NBA LEAGUE PASS, and

This new agreement will extend Turner’s relationship with the NBA to more than 40 years and will increase TNT’s regular season coverage to 64 live games annually.  Additionally, Turner will have enhanced digital rights to NBA content for Bleacher Report, its top-rated Team Stream app, and the brand’s social media handles. Turner acquired Bleacher Report, a leading digital sports destination, in 2012.

“This is a significant deal for our company and we are pleased to continue our long-standing partnership with the NBA, its fans, owners and players,” said Levy.  “The agreement locks in some of the most valuable, original, premium live sports programming that we’ll continue to monetize across TNT and all other platforms within our extensive portfolio and will help further grow our businesses into the next decade.”

Effective with the start of the 2016-17 NBA regular season and extending through the 2024-25 campaign, TNT will have the following rights:

  • The network will be the home of NBA Opening Night;
  • Exclusive Thursday Night regular season doubleheaders;
  • TNT’s additional 12 games will air over the second half of the season on another night of the week than the network’s traditional Thursday Night doubleheaders;
  • Exclusive coverage of NBA All-Star Weekend signature events including NBA All-Star Saturday Night and the NBA All-Star Game;
  • More NBA Playoff games than any other network. TNT’s coverage of the NBA Playoffs will include live first round coverage, exclusive second round game telecasts and one Conference Finals (alternating between the Eastern and Western Conference each year).

Under the terms of the new agreement, Turner Sports will also maintain TV Everywhere rights that allow for all NBA content airing across Turner Broadcasting networks to be streamed live across the company’s multiple digital platforms. Additionally, Turner will have enhanced digital rights to have the NBA deliver content for Bleacher Report.  This includes authenticated streaming rights for NBA on TNT games, the opportunity to develop and distribute new NBA content and programming for Bleacher Report, as well as rights to highlights for incorporation into the brand’s popular team- and topic-centric Team Stream Now video offerings.

The new agreement will provide Turner with expanded activations including the creation of an all-new NBA Awards Show and other ancillary events surrounding key NBA pillars such as Opening Week and the NBA Playoffs.

Since partnering with the NBA to manage the league’s multimedia portfolio in 2008, Turner Sports has delivered a number of innovations that have changed how the NBA is presented; as well as increasing the amount of original content that continues to resonate with fans including the introduction of NBA Fan Night and Open Court, along with the re-launch of NBA Inside Stuff last year.  In addition to TNT talent featured on NBA TV including Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Marv Albert, the network also features additional league voices adding analysis and commentary including Grant Hill, Chris Webber, Greg Anthony and Steve Smith.

“We’re honored to be entrusted by the league to continue to manage the day-to-day operations of its NBA Digital portfolio,” added Lenny Daniels, President of Turner Sports.  “The partnership has delivered tremendous results for both entities and we look forward to continuing to drive innovation across all screens.”

Turner first agreed to a deal with the NBA in 1984 and this marks the eighth agreement between the two organizations over the past 30 years. The critically acclaimed NBA on TNT traditionally delivers the highest-rated and most-viewed NBA regular season and playoff coverage of any cable television network.  Under the current agreement, the NBA on TNT has delivered its six most-viewed regular seasons in the 30-plus year history with the league. Additionally, over the last 10 years, the NBA on TNT has registered nine of the top 10 overall programs airing on the network.

About Turner Sports

Turner Sports, a division of Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., is an industry leader in the delivery of premium sports content across all multimedia screens. Turner Sports’ television coverage includes the NBA, Major League Baseball, NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship and professional golf.  The company also manages some of the most popular sports destinations across broadband and mobile platforms including Bleacher Report and its top-rated Team Stream app, and the critically-acclaimed NCAA March Madness Live suite of products, and the Sports Emmy Award-winning PGA Championship LIVE, as well as an accompanying collection of mobile sites and connected device apps.  Turner Sports and the NBA also jointly manage NBA Digital, a robust collection of offerings including NBA TV,, NBA LEAGUE PASS, NBA Mobile, the NBA Game Time App, and

About Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.

Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a Time Warner Company, creates and programs branded news; entertainment; kids and young adult; and sports media environments on television and other platforms for consumers around the world.  Turner brands and businesses include CNN/U.S., CNN International, and HLN; TBS, TNT, truTV and Turner Classic Movies; Cartoon Network, Boomerang and Adult Swim; and Turner Sports.

Visit the Turner Sports online press room for additional press materials; follow Turner Sports on Twitter at @TurnerSportsPR



Michelle Beisner Interview with J.J. Watt on Sunday NFL Countdown Highlights Week 5 NFL Content on ESPN

Sunday NFL Countdown logoMichelle Beisner Interview with J.J. Watt on Sunday NFL Countdown Highlights Week 5 NFL Content on ESPN

Sunday NFL Countdown: J.J. Watt, Peyton Manning Entering “500 Club,” Meaning of Football in Texas, Giovani Bernard; Harbaugh Comfortable in Chaos; and More 

Host Chris Berman and analysts Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson and Keyshawn Johnson will preview the NFL’s week 5 games on Sunday NFL Countdown on Sunday, Oct. 5, at 10 a.m. ET on ESPN. The three-hour program will also feature NFL insiders Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter and host Wendi Nix.

ESPN reporters at game sites:


  • J.J. Watt: After returning an interception 80 yards for a touchdown, delivering nine quarterback hits and five tackles, Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week. Countdown’s Michelle Beisner traveled to Houston for a one-on-one interview with Watt, the most disruptive defender in the NFL today.
  • 500 Touchdown Club: Peyton Manning is one TD pass away from joining Brett Favre as the only two quarterbacks in NFL history with 500 touchdown passes. Countdown presents an essay welcoming the Denver Broncos signal caller to this exclusive club.
  • Football in Texas – “Friday Night Lights”: As the 3-1 Houston Texans face the 3-1 Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, Countdown turns to Peter Berg, director of Friday Night Lights – the 2004 film about Texas high school football, to voice an essay on the meaning of football in the Lone Star State.
  • Giovani Bernard and his Mentor: Jim Trotter reports on the mentee-mentor relationship between Cincinnati Bengals running back Giovani Bernard and Countdown’s Cris Carter, dating back to Bernard’s time playing for St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where Carter helped as an assistant coach.
  • Hannah Storm “Face to Face” with Patrick Peterson: In a special contribution to Countdown, Hannah Storm, in her “Face to Face with Hannah Storm” series, features Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson, who says his wife, Antonique Larry, is his most-ardent fan and harshest critic.
  • Fashion on NFL Sidelines: Tom Landry used to pace the Cowboys sidelines in a fedora, while Chiefs legendary coach Hank Stram wore a dapper sport coat. Now, the NFL has Bill Belichick in sweatshirts and Rex Ryan in sweater vests. Reporter Greg Garber examines the changing fashion style among NFL head coaches.
  • “We’re Preparing for Cincinnati”: Comedian Frank Caliendo recreates the evasive press conference on Wednesday by New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.
  • Jim Harbaugh – Comfortable in Chaos: ESPN The Magazine senior writer Seth Wickersham reports on how 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh thrives when it appears everything around him is falling apart.

Monday Night Football: Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks Visit the Washington Redskins

Kirk Cousins and the Washington Redskins host Russell Wilson and the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks on ESPN’s Monday Night Football on October 6 at 8:15 p.m. ET. Mike Tirico will call the game from FedExField in Landover, Maryland, with analyst Jon Gruden and sideline reporter Lisa Salters. In the series’ 45-year history, this is the first meeting between the two teams under the MNF lights.

The Seahawks boast an eight-game winning streak on MNF and their MNF winning percentage (.714) is the best among the 32 NFL teams. MNF airs on ESPN and ESPN Deportes and is available on WatchESPN.

Monday Night Countdown at 6 p.m. on ESPN includes Suzy Kolber and NFL analysts Trent Dilfer, Ray Lewis and Steve Young at the stadium and the studio team of host Chris Berman, NFL analysts Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson and Keyshawn Johnson and Insiders Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter. Highlights:

  • Soundtracks – Best of Russell Wilson: Russell Wilson may have been a third round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, but the Seahawks Super Bowl XLVIII-winning quarterback has established himself as a franchise quarterback. This week, Countdown offers the best of Russell Wilson’s in-game audio in Soundtracks.
  • Gruden’s Grill Session with Jay Gruden: MNF’s Jon Gruden visits with the first year Redskins head coach, and his younger brother, Jay Gruden.
  • Kirk Cousins Conversation: Entering his third week as the Redskins starting quarterback, Kirk Cousins sits for a one-on-one conversation with Monday Night Football sideline reporter Lisa Salters.
  • Rick Reilly – The 12th Man: “The 12th Man” has become an integral part of Seahawks football in Seattle, but its impact goes beyond crowd noise. Countdown’s Rick Reilly reports how “The 12th Man” helped change the life of a Vietnam War veteran.

NFL Matchup – Giants Run Game; Colts’ Third-Down Passes; Bengals All-out Blitz; Romo Against the Blitz; and More

NFL Matchup host Paolantonio and analysts Jaworski and Merril Hoge preview the weekend’s key matchups via film-room X’s and O’s analysis Saturday, Oct. 4, at 8:30 a.m. on ESPN2 (re-air on ESPN, Sunday at 3:30 a.m.).

  • Run to Daylight – Giants run game: Hoge explains how a resurgent Giants offense can be successful against the Falcons run defense.
  • Game within the Game – Colts’ third-down passes: Using a successful play against the Titans’ blitz, Jaworski illustrates how the Colts offense converts on third downs with simple throws from Andrew Luck to T.Y. Hilton.
  • Let’s See it Hoge – Chargers’ passing concepts: Hoge explains how the San Diego Chargers passing game uses multiple formations to beat any defense.
  • Hoge Breakdown – Bengals all-out blitz: In a matchup against a young New England offensive line, expect the veteran Bengals defense to bring heavy doses of pressure to disrupt quarterback Tom Brady.
  • Coaches Clicker – Running the ball against the Seahawks: Hoge breaks down key elements in running the ball successfully against Seattle’s defense and contends the Redskins will look to do the same on Monday night.
  • Between the Lines – Romo’s hot streak against the blitz: Jaworski explains why the blitz-heavy Texans must tread carefully against Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, who has thrown six TD passes against the blitz.
  • Anatomy of a Play – Kaepernick’s touchdown pass: The panel explains the obvious difficulties of defending 49ers Colin Kaepernick through a play where the quarterback buys time to deliver a critical touchdown pass against the Eagles defense.

NFL on ESPN Radio: Baltimore Ravens at Indianapolis Colts

Play by play commentator Ryan Ruocco, analyst Bill Polian and reporter Ian Fitzsimmons will call the Baltimore Ravens at Indianapolis Colts matchup on Sunday, Oct. 5, at 1 p.m. on ESPN Radio. The 3-1 Ravens are on a three-game winning streak, while the Colts have won two straight games behind quarterback Andrew Luck.

ESPN The Magazine’s Seth Wickersham Profiles 49ers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh: “Comfortable in Chaos”

Despite a stellar 38-13-1 record in his three-plus years coaching the San Francisco 49ers, Jim Harbaugh has become one of the more scrutinized, if not criticized, coaches in the league with his unrelenting intensity and over-the-top passion. As Seth Wickersham writes for and ESPN The Magazine, it isn’t easy being Harbaugh, and that’s the way he likes it. Story

E:60: Updated Profile of 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman Airs Tuesday at 8 p.m.

San Francisco 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman knows pain. Last January, the world saw him go down in a heap in the NFC title game, his knee ligaments torn. For the past eight months, the three-time All-Pro has endured a grueling rehabilitation regime, hoping to return to the field by the middle of this season. For Bowman, that gruesome and very public injury in no way compares to the private pain he’s carried with him his whole life. Growing up near Washington, D.C., and during an All-Big Ten career at Penn State, Bowman was shielded from a deep family secret.  When it was finally revealed to him, it forced him to reconsider the very essence of his identity, and sent Bowman on a journey of discovery thousands of miles away. E:60’s Jeffri Chadiha is alongside Bowman as he peels back the hidden layers of his past, exposes his pain, and finds something he never expected – forgiveness. Preview.


ESPN Baseball Tonight Analysts Share Postseason Insights and Predictions

ESPN-MLBWith the 2014 MLB Postseason underway, ESPN Baseball Tonight analysts Manny Acta, Mark Mulder, Rick Sutcliffe, Jessica Mendoza and Doug Glanville shared insights and predictions about key storylines, compelling matchups and players poised for breakout performances. also has comprehensive predictions from the ESPN Forecast panel and a deep roster of ESPN MLB Insiders including Buster Olney, Tim Kurkjian, Jayson Stark, Keith Law, Jerry Crasnick and Jim Bowden.
Baseball Tonight will continue throughout the postseason with nightly analysis and highlights on ESPN2, generally at midnight ET or at the conclusion of the final playoff game each night. Additionally, ESPN Radio will broadcast every game of the postseason.
Manny Acta on the Kansas City Royals
I’m expecting to see close games between the Royals and the Angels due to Kansas City’s pitching and defense and the lack of dominant starters for Angels. I think the Royals can surprise a lot of people during this postseason. Solid starters, a great bullpen, air-tight defense and late-inning speed off the bench can spell trouble for opposing teams.
Mark Mulder on the San Francisco Giants
Among managers, Bruce Bochy will have the most impact during the postseason. He will have to make many moves with a limited lineup and a patchwork rotation. He’s been through this before. They are a veteran team with a lot of playoff experience.
Rick Sutcliffe on the Washington Nationals
I like Washington’s pitching staff the most as this postseason begins. I also think that Anthony Rendon is a star.
Jessica Mendoza on breakout performances
Throughout the postseason, I expect Mike Trout to leave no doubt that he’s the best player in the league and has been for three years. We could also see breakout performances from Ian Desmond, Alex Gordon and Howie Kendrick.
Manny Acta on the Detroit Tigers-Baltimore Orioles series
I expect trouble for Detroit if their starters don’t go deep into the games. That bullpen will continue to struggle against the Orioles’ powerful offense.
Jessica Mendoza on a potential Washington Nationals-Baltimore Orioles World Series
The Nationals are the most complete team. They are finally healthy and have the sour taste of two years ago that they want to get past. The top four in the rotation are absolutely fantastic. On paper, the Angels are the team in all of Major League Baseball to beat. But October erases all of that. The Orioles have found a way all year. I like the matchup with the Tigers because although they have the inferior rotation, they can shorten the starting pitcher to five innings with Andrew Miller, Darren O’Day, Tommy Hunter and Zach Britton. Buck Showalter is masterful with his bullpen and willing to be aggressive.
Doug Glanville on the style of play this postseason
This postseason will be remembered as the playoffs that brought back ‘80s baseball. I expect it will be aggressive on the bases with teams bunting and stealing bases. The big hit can truly come from anyone.
Mark Mulder on a potential Detroit Tigers-Washington Nationals World Series
I expect to see the Washington Nationals meet the Detroit Tigers in the World Series. Both teams have the deepest rotations with well-balanced offenses.
Jessica Mendoza on the emergence of young pitchers
As much as I hate to say it because I am a hitter at heart, this has been the year of the pitchers. And specifically the next great wave of young starting pitchers:  Clayton Kershaw, Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Madison Bumgarner, Matt Shoemaker, Wei-Yin Chen, Yordano Ventura and Lance Lynn.

Rick Sutcliffe on key storylines throughout the postseason
There are so many interesting things to look out for this postseason – the Royals athleticism, Nelson Cruz’s home runs, Matt Kemp’s health, Bruce Bochy having to be perfect again, Anthony Rendon’s emergence and more.


Hall of Fame Coach Jim Calhoun Joins ESPN

espn-logoNaismith Memorial Hall of Fame Coach Jim Calhoun, who led the University of Connecticut to three NCAA National Championships (1999, 2004, 2011), has joined ESPN as a men’s college basketball analyst. Calhoun will provide expert insight and analysis across ESPN, including studio programming, joining select game telecasts and conducting sit-down interviews with top figures in the game.

Calhoun, along will new college basketball analyst Shane Battier, will first appear on the network from the State Farm Champions Classic – the early-season, neutral-site men’s doubleheader to be played Tuesday, Nov. 18, at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The culminating event of the College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon showcases preseason-ranked No. 18 Michigan State vs. No. 2 Duke at 7 p.m., followed by No. 10 Kansas vs. No. 1 Kentucky at 9 p.m., with a special one-hour edition of College GameDay Covered by State Farm at 6 p.m.

“Jim’s experience coaching – and winning – in the sport’s biggest games, and as a teacher of several of its best players gives him an invaluable insight as an analyst,” said Mark Gross, senior vice president production & remote events. “That knowledge and ability to see the game as it develops provides our coverage with a perspective that will serve fans through any storyline the season brings.”

“I love the game of basketball and am excited for this chance to share my passion with ESPN viewers,” said Calhoun.  “Being an NCAA coach has not only provided me with a unique perspective on the game, but also the opportunity to meet some interesting and inspiring people, and I look forward to having the chance to share their stories.”

Calhoun spent 26 years as head coach of the University of Connecticut men’s basketball program and a total of 40 as a collegiate head coach from 1972-2012 (14 years at Northeastern). His coaching success story includes three NCAA National Championships (1999, 2004, 2011) at Connecticut, and four appearances in the Final Four. Calhoun’s overall record as a head coach is 873-380, one of only eight Division I coaches in NCAA history to earn their way into the 800-win club. During his 26 history-making years as head coach at Connecticut, he compiled an overall record of 625-243.

He earned basketball’s highest honor while still an active coach, election into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Class of 2005. He was also inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame as a member of its founding class in 2006. In April of 2005, Calhoun became just the seventh recipient of the prestigious John R. Wooden “Legends of Coaching Award” presented by the Los Angeles Athletic Club.

Calhoun has had great success producing top flight collegiate stars who have also excelled on the professional level. Twenty-six of Calhoun’s Connecticut players have competed in the National Basketball Association (NBA).

Calhoun and his wife Pat are known for their philanthropic efforts. The annual Calhoun Classic Weekend features a Celebrity Charity Basketball All-Star Game and Celebrity Classic Golf Tournament with proceeds benefiting the Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center at UConn. The Calhoun Classic has raised millions in support of the Cardiology Center endowment fund.  Calhoun also hosts the Jim Calhoun Cancer Challenge Ride and Walk to benefit the Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center at the UConn Health Center, and is an outspoken advocate for the group Autism Speaks.


Jay Bilas Signs Extension with ESPN Through 2023

espn-logoWill Add Saturday Primetime Telecast With College GameDay Duties

Jay Bilas, known for an extensive knowledge of men’s basketball and his insightful analysis about the entire sports industry, has agreed to an extension with ESPN through the 2022-23 men’s college basketball season, it was announced by John Wildhack, ESPN Executive Vice President, Production and Programming.

Bilas, who is featured on ESPN’s game and studio coverage, will call top men’s college basketball games involving the nation’s marquee teams and conferences and will be present at the Men’s Final Four through studio coverage, as well as game telecasts on ESPN International. Saturday’s will be busy for Bilas as he will add ESPN’s Saturday Primetime Presented by DIRECTV game-of-the-week assignment to his analyst role on the popular Saturday morning and evening college basketball program, College GameDay Covered by State Farm. He has been an analyst on the show that originates from the site of the Saturday Primetime telecast since its debut in 2005.

Bilas will contribute to several ESPN platforms, including and SportsCenter. His extension will keep him on ESPN’s coverage of the NBA Draft, where he has been providing in-depth player scouting and analysis since 2003.

“Jay Bilas is a tremendous contributor to ESPN in so many ways, and we are delighted to extend our relationship with him,” said Wildhack. “He is among a small group of commentators who transcend genres based on his ability to inform and educate sports fans, break down game action and articulate how and why things happen in college basketball and the sports world at large.”

Added Bilas: “For over twenty years, I have been honored to be a member of ESPN’s amazing team and, like all of my teammates here at ESPN, I’ve always fully embraced the role I have been assigned.  I’m thrilled to continue my career with ESPN, and to work together with so many talented and dedicated people.  I’m extraordinarily fortunate to be a part of this team.”

Bilas joined ESPN in the 1994-95 college basketball season as a game and studio color commentator.

In 2007 and 2008, Bilas was nominated for an Emmy as Outstanding Studio Personality, and in 2008 Bilas was honored by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) for the Best Column of the Year. Sports Illustrated has twice named Bilas the best analyst in college basketball.

A prep All-American from Los Angeles, Calif., the 6-7 Bilas was a four-year starter at Duke under Mike Krzyzewski from 1982-86. As an undersized center, Bilas scored 1,062 points, grabbed 692 rebounds, and helped lead Duke to the 1986 ACC Championship and NCAA Championship game. Bilas’ 1986 Duke team still holds the NCAA record for the most wins in a single season with 37.

Drafted by the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, Bilas played professional basketball overseas, ranking among the leagues’ top scorers in Italy during the 1987 and 1988 seasons, and then in Spain for part of the 1989 season. Bilas returned to Duke in 1990 to serve as an assistant coach on Krzyzewski’s staff, while also earning his law degree from Duke Law School.  As an assistant coach under Krzyzewski, the Blue Devils advanced to the NCAA Championship game three times, winning back-to-back titles in 1991 and 1992.

Since 1992, Bilas has been an attorney with the law firm of Moore & Van Allen, PLLC, where he has specialized in commercial litigation. Bilas serves on the Board of Advisors of the John R. Wooden Award, the Board of Advisors of the Chip Hilton Award, the National Board of the Coaches vs. Cancer Organization and the Board of Advisors of the Duke Brain Tumor Center and Duke Childrens’ Hospital.

Bilas has participated as a coach in two “Operation Hardwood – Hoops With the Troops” basketball tournaments in 2005 and 2006, in which NCAA coaches and sports personalities coach military basketball teams at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.


ESPN Classic On-Demand Launches on Set Top Boxes

espn-logoMore than 600 Hours of Historic Sports Events Available to DISH Customers by Late October

Beginning today, nostalgic fans wishing to relive and share their favorite sports moments will be able to access more than 600 hours of events from ESPN Classic on-demand, anytime directly from their set top boxes by the end of the month.  The launch is ESPN’s largest on-demand content offering and a significant turning point in ESPN Classic’s 19-year history.  DISH is the affiliated video provider at launch.

“As fans continue to evolve the way they consume content, making ESPN Classic an on-demand offering is the logical next step,” said David Preschlack, Executive Vice President of Affiliate Sales and Marketing for Disney and ESPN Media Networks.  “It is a powerful consumer proposition and a great example of how we are collaborating with our partners to free up bandwidth, allowing them to better serve customers.”

Archived programming of memorable moments available to fans nationwide through the new service will follow the seasonality and relevancy of each sport year-round.  At launch, this includes classic college football and college basketball games leading up to the College Football Playoff and NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, respectively.  Some events that will be made available through the end of the year include:

  • College Football – more than 200 games highlighted by the last five BCS Championship games, all-time great bowl games such as the 1973 Sugar Bowl between Notre Dame vs. Alabama and marquee rivalries including Florida State vs. Miami.
  • College Basketball – more than 50 games through 2014 alone, highlighted by a dozen Jimmy V Classic events to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Jimmy V tournament, including Indiana vs. UNC in 1999, Duke vs. Kentucky in 2001, Michigan State vs. Syracuse in 2010, Jimmy V’s legendary speech and more.

DISH customers that receive ESPN networks as part of their video subscription will have immediate access to on-demand programming from ESPN Classic.  A digital content offering through WatchESPN is slated to launch in early 2015.


ESPN College Football Week 6 – TV Schedule, College GameDay, SEC Nation and More

2010 -- ESPN College Football LogoESPN College Football Week 6 – TV Schedule, College GameDay, and More

Monday, September 29, 2014


College Football: 11 of 17 Undefeated Teams & Three Matchups between Ranked Squads  

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ESPN’s college football game schedule for this week will include 11 of the remaining 17 undefeated teams, highlighted by three telecasts between programs in the top 25 rankings and two between unbeaten teams. Overall, ESPN platforms will televise games involving 17 of the top 25 ranked teams.

  • ESPN & ABC will combine to televise three games between ranked teams on Saturday, Oct. 4 beginning at noon with No. 6 Texas A&M at No. 12 Mississippi State in a matchup of unbeaten SEC squads on ESPN. Saturday night matchups will include No. 15 LSU at undefeated No. 5 Auburn at 7 p.m. on ESPN and unbeaten No. 19 Nebraska at No. 10 Michigan State on ABC at 8 p.m.
  • ESPN’s weeknight lineup – highlighted by Thursday and Friday doubleheaders – will include three undefeated teams, highlighted by a showdown between two from the Pac-12: Arizona at No. 2 Oregon on Thursday, Oct. 2, at 10:30 p.m. The second game of the doubleheader on Friday, Oct. 3 will showcase undefeated No. 18 BYU against Utah State at 10:15 p.m.
  • ABC will carry two of the undefeated teams in a split regional telecast on Saturday, Oct. 4, at 3:30 p.m.: No. 1 Florida State against Wake Forest and No. 7 Baylor at Texas.
  • ESPN2’s Saturday night game will include undefeated Georgia Tech against Miami (Fla.) at 7:30 p.m. while ESPN’s late Saturday telecast at 10:30 p.m. will pit unbeaten No. 8 UCLA against Utah.

Full Schedule:


ESPN’s College GameDay Heads Ole Miss and the Grove for the First time  

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ESPN’s College GameDay Built by The Home Depot – college football’s longest-running and most-celebrated pregame show – will make its first-ever stop at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, Miss., in advance of No. 11 Ole Miss vs. No. 6 Texas A&M on Saturday, Oct. 4. The weekly three-hour Emmy Award-winning show (Saturday 9 a.m. – noon) will set up on The Grove in the heart of one of the best tailgating scenes in the country.

GameDay is hosted by Chris Fowler, along with analysts Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard and David Pollack and reporting by Samantha Ponder, Tom Rinaldi, Scott Van Pelt, George Whitfield and Gene Wojciechowski.


College GameDay Nuggets:

  • Now with a visit to Ole Miss, GameDay has originated from the campus of every SEC school except one – Mississippi State.
  • Of the 65 Power Five schools – GameDay has visited 50. The show has not yet been to Louisville, Syracuse, Wake Forest, Virginia, Maryland, Indiana, Rutgers, Minnesota, Illinois, Baylor, Kansas, Iowa State, Cal, Washington State and Mississippi State.
  • Ole Miss is the 76th team showcased in a College GameDay site.
  • Lee Corso has put on headgear representing 49 different teams.
  • This is the 30th time GameDay will be at the site of an Alabama game. The Tide are 18-11 in the previous 29.
  • Lee Corso has won his last three Week 6 picks.  His last Week 6 loss was picking Alabama on the road at South Carolina in 2010.

Full Release:

SEC Network Football: Tripleheader with SEC Nation at Mississippi State
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SEC Network heads into week six of the college football season with a tripleheader of conference matchups Saturday, Oct. 4. Brent Musburger, Jesse Palmer and Maria Taylor will call Florida at Tennessee at noon, followed by Vanderbilt at No. 13 Georgia and South Carolina at Kentucky.

SEC Nation’s Tim Tebow, Marcus Spears, Paul Finebaum, host Joe Tessitore and reporter Kaylee Hartung will be in Starkville, Miss., in advance of No. 6 Texas A&M at No. 12 Mississippi State. The show will be live from “The Junction” from 10 a.m. – noon, previewing the games of the day and bringing the sights and sounds of a Bulldog game day.

 Date Time (ET) Game/Commentators
Sat, Sep 27 noon Florida at Tennessee
Brent Musburger, Jesse Palmer & Maria Taylor
4 p.m. Vanderbilt at No. 13 Georgia
Dave Neal, Andre Ware & Laura Rutledge
7:30 p.m. South Carolina at Kentucky
Tom Hart, Matt Stinchcomb & Heather Mitts

In addition, on SEC Film Room analyst David Green sits down with Vanderbilt’s first-year head coach Derek Mason prior to his team’s matchup against Georgia to breakdown the Xs & Os of the season thus far. SEC Film Room airs Wednesday, Oct. 1 at 10 p.m.

Full Release:


SEC Network to Air Three-Part Series on Nine Coaches’ Wives in the SEC
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On Saturday, Sept. 27, College GameDay aired a seven-minute feature on the wives of nine head football coaches in the Southeastern Conference. Beginning Wednesday, Oct. 1 at 10:30 p.m. ET, the SEC Network will air a three-part series on Jen Bielema, Jill Freeze, Kristi Malzahn, Kathy Miles, Megan Mullen, Carol Muschamp, Kathryn Richt, Terri Saban and Jerri Spurrier.

The Better Half: SEC Wives portrays how instrumental these women are in their husbands’ careers and in the college football landscape, while also capturing the lifestyle that comes with being married to an SEC coach. Each episode, airing over consecutive Wednesdays, includes expanded footage from time spent with each woman as she lives, and prepares to help their families navigate one of college football’s biggest stages.

In the first show, viewers will sit down and learn the history and moments that have shaped each wife. The following Wednesday, Oct. 8, fans will spend a day in the life of the women and in the final show, Wednesday, Oct. 15, learn what a game day is like as a coach’s wife.

Full Release:


ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown Notes and Quotes: Week 4

Sunday NFL Countdown logoESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown host Chris Berman and analysts Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson and Keyshawn Johnson previewed today’s NFL games with insiders Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter. Some excerpts from today’s show:


On quarterback Cam Newton vs. the Ravens defense …

Carter: “He (Cam Newton) started training camp a little nicked up. When you get nicked up again, then the hurting is for real. So, every week, you are battling just to stay healthy. That’s what it is all about being a pro. That’s what we always talk about – ‘there’s a talent to being available.’ Right now, Cam is just going through a season where he’s going to be nicked-up an awful lot … I like his style. He’s really developed as a pocket passer. It is only going to get better.”

Jackson: “We very seldom play at a 100 percent in the National Football League once the season starts. That’s almost every player in the National Football League. I would like our viewers to be able to meet Cam Newton – 6 feet, 6 inches, 265 pounds. When you see him, you understand the freakish nature of his ability. He is not RG III … His style is an asset to the Carolina Panthers. It is always going to be there. He can lead the team in rushing, if he wanted to. But he is always going to have that in his back pocket.”

Johnson: “Because of his size and the way that he’s built, he’s not like the rest of the quarterbacks and he’s developing as a pocket passer, you can’t take his instincts away from him. When things break down, he’s allowed to run. You can do that, while other guys have to sit back there and become statues.”

Carter: “Cam Newton is Ben Roethlisberger, but a great athletic.”

Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. vs. the Panthers – Keyshawn Johnson reflects on his experiences playing against his old teams:

“The New York Jets to Tampa move – it was all good. I understood Bill Parcells (then Jets GM) and what they wanted to do … But the Carolina back to Tampa, that was a different story. I wanted to punish them … I made sure their sideline knew, that every chance that I got the football, they were going to be gutted. The animosity I had for that coaching staff and some of those players on that team, it just was totally different.”

On Baltimore Raven Steve Smith Sr. playing against his old team the Carolina Panthers …

Carter: “It is a big plot to this game. Not only because he is returning against a team that let him go and anytime you  have that situation, you are going to have a lot of energy. But, they don’t have a whole bunch of weapons. (WR) Tory Smith is not playing well … The Ravens need Steve Smith Sr. to play a good game.”

Johnson: “The interesting thing about this situation with Steve Smith is he does know that secondary. He does know this defense and he does know their tendencies. He can give information to the offensive staff and allow them to put him in great situations to take advantage of that.”

Ditka: “Just one piece of advice for Steve Smith. The only constant in life is change. Embrace it. Don’t get mad at it. Don’t get mad at the team that let you go.”

On the Eagles offense vs. the 49ers defense …

Jackson: “49ers, defensive dependent. That’s been the story of that team along with an outstanding running game. (RB) Frank Gore, basically forgotten getting with 11 carries a game. I’d say it again, (LB) Aldon Smith, at the time that he left, was as good a pass rusher as we had in the National Football League. (DL) Glenn Dorsey, nose tackle, the heart and soul of any 3-4 defense, out. NaVorro Bowman out, the best inside linebacker in football … They are not the same football team on the defensive side of the ball.”

Carter: “This is the style of football team that Chip Kelly (Eagles head coach) has had problems with, even in his short tenure with Philadelphia. Teams that can get quick penetration and make them run sideline to sidelines. The overall physicality of the interior seven of San Francisco is going to play a key role. It was always one of the keys in stopping the Oregon Ducks (under Kelly).”

While appearing on a Wisconsin radio station during the week, quarterback Aaron Rodgers urged Packers fans worried about the team’s 1-2 start to “R.E.L.A.X.” The Countdown panel shared their thoughts on Rodger’s radio comment:

Johnson: “When you start off at 1-2 and you are the Green Bay Packers, there is panic. The Chicago Bears are not going away. When you look at the injuries that they’ve had on this football team, plus the way that the offense has been playing, in particular, the wide receivers trying to adjust to this new style of passing game, there is panic. Aaron Rodgers has to get realistic here and understand you have to start winning football games.”

Jackson: “My concern is that he (Rodgers) is throwing every ball under duress. He is one of the best quarterbacks in the National football League. In fact, (Hall of Fame QB and ESPN analyst) Steve Young said the other day that ‘it is kind of a football crime that Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers are having difficulty doing their jobs because they are not protected.’”

Ditka: “Without Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay is an average football team. He is a class act, a credit to the National Football League.”

Carter: “This is no excuse for them, but injuries have killed them the last two years. They’ve had over 200 collective games missed by their starters. That would affect Aaron Rodgers. But his receiving corps, which was all home grown – Donald Driver, drafted and developed; Jermichael Finley, hurt; Greg Jennings, didn’t sign him and let him go to Minnesota; James Jones, let him go to Oakland, after he led the NFL in receiving touchdowns in 2012. All that productivity can’t be replaced. Right now, they don’t have the players. This is not nearly the football team that we were seeing several years ago.”

On how much pressure is head coach Jim Harbaugh under with the 1-2 San Francisco 49ers?

Jackson: “I think some of the actions of his players are wearing thin on him.  Do they want him out, or does he, in the end, maybe want out on his own?”

Johnson: “He’s not the type of coach that likes to sit around. He’s like my old boss, Bill Parcells. A guy who likes to move around – you look at UC San Diego, he left there. He went to Stanford. He jumped to the job with the San Francisco 49ers. He has flirted around with some other teams. You just don’t know what his mindset is.”

Carter: “He is a very good coach. One thing is you typically see a reflection of the coach on the football team. You are not seeing that with the 49ers. Jim Harbaugh was a very disciplined player. Right now, they are not a disciplined team. I do believe Harbaugh has figured this out, a lot like (University of Alabama head coach) Nick Saban, who realized jumping back and forth to college to pro wasn’t his strong suit, and settled on college where he’s a dominant coach. I believe that Harbaugh realizes he is a pro coach and is going to stay in pro football. He’s going to try to work it out with the 49ers.”

On the quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s first NFL start with the Vikings …

Jackson:  “I watched his entire career at U of L (University of Louisville), he was the most pro-ready quarterback, I believe, coming out of college. Minnesota is getting a great guy to lead their organization – not only in character and his ability to stay poised on the field, but great, great leadership …”

Carter: “Not only his physical toughness, but his mental toughness as well. People forget, at one point, he was projected to be the first pick in the Draft. How he tumbled in the draft. Mentally, he handled that. Within the Vikings organization, not only the ownership, but the general manager Rick Spielman, they feel very comfortable in the draft pick. That’s why they got him (Bridgewater). Just need to get some help around him. Don’t know what (RB) Adrian Peterson’s future is going to be. But if they put a running game, (WRs) Cordarrelle Patterson, Greg Jennings, they can do some great things. I expect big things from the Vikings organization and Teddy Bridgewater.”