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.
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 Football, the 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.