The Pro Football Hall of Fame has named ESPN’s Chris Berman the 2010 recipient of the Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award, it was announced today. The annual award recognizes “long-time exceptional contributions to radio and television in professional football.”
Berman will receive the award on Friday, August 6 during the Enshrinees Dinner in Canton, Ohio, when the members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2010 – Russ Grimm, Rickey Jackson, Dick LeBeau, Floyd Little, John Randle, Jerry Rice, and Emmitt Smith – receive their gold Pro Football Hall of Fame jackets.
The Class of 2010 Enshrinement Ceremony takes place the following day at 7 p.m. ET and will be televised live on ESPN.
Past recipients of the Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award include: Bill McPhail (1989); Lindsey Nelson (1990); Ed Sabol (1991); Chris Schenkel (1992); Curt Gowdy (1993); Pat Summerall (1994); Frank Gifford (1995); Jack Buck (1996); Charlie Jones (1997); Val Pinchbeck (1998); Dick Enberg (1999); Ray Scott (2000); Roone Arledge (2001); John Madden (2002); Don Criqui (2003); Van Miller (2004), Myron Cope (2005); Lesley Visser (2006); Don Meredith (2007); Dan Dierdorf (2008); and Irv Cross (2009).
Said Berman: “I embraced pro football a long time ago. I am honored and humbled beyond belief that pro football, in turn, has embraced me. To have my name associated with Pete Rozelle’s in any way, shape or form is an honor that I take very much to heart.”
“With a signature style and genuine enthusiasm, Chris has informed and entertained millions of football fans as the face of ESPN’s coverage of the National Football League for more than three decades, and we are thrilled that one of our company’s pioneers will take his place among the sport’s most important contributors,” added ESPN President George Bodenheimer.
Berman arrived at ESPN in October 1979 – just one month after the network launched – and is one of America’s most respected, popular, and in many ways, most beloved sportscasters of his era. The 2010 season will be Berman’s 25th consecutive as studio host of Sunday NFL Countdown, having long surpassed Brent Musburger’s 15-year record in 2001 as the longest running host of a weekly pro football studio show. The weekly Sunday morning pre-game show has won seven Sports Emmy awards for Outstanding Studio Show — Weekly.
A veteran of 28 Super Bowls, beginning with the 49ers’ first NFL Championship in Super Bowl XVI , Berman has worked alongside Tom Jackson on Sunday NFL Countdown since 1987, when ESPN first acquired the rights to carry the NFL. This dynamic duo teamed together every Sunday night in the fall from 1987-2005 to host the critically-acclaimed NFL PrimeTime, annually cable television’s highest-rated studio show. Since 2006, Berman and Jackson have continued to deliver all the NFL highlights to fans — for a total of 24 years now – during both the 7 p.m. edition of the Sunday night SportsCenter (with John Saunders and Trent Dilfer) and on “The Blitz” on the 11 p.m. SportsCenter.
When Monday Night Football moved to ESPN in 2006, so did Berman’s signature weekly halftime highlights trip through the NFL, “The Fastest Three Minutes in Television.” It was a staple on Sunday Night Football for all 19 years (1987-2005), and remains one now on Monday Night Football. In 2006, Berman traveled to the MNF city each week to host the Monday Night Countdown 90-minute pre-game, halftime and post-game shows. He continues in that role today from the ESPN studios, and in 2008 Berman had the honor of conducting the final interviews with then presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain during the MNF halftime on the eve of the election.
Berman played the role of halftime host for ABC Sports’ Monday Night Football from 1996-1999, and he served as host of the Monday Night Blast pre-game show in 1998 and anchored the network’s Wildcard Saturday from 1996-2005. In 2000, 2003 and 2006, Berman anchored ABC’s Super Bowl XXXIV, XXXVII and XL pre-game shows.
The pre-eminent NFL host, Berman has served as Master of Ceremony for the prestigious Pro Football Hall of Fame Induction ceremony for 10 years (1999-2008), and in 2009 he enjoyed the rare and distinguished honor of presenting Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson, Jr. during the enshrinement ceremony. He considers this to be among the most precious and unexpected opportunities of his distinguished pro football broadcasting career. Two others rank with it: being master of ceremonies at Hall of Fame 49ers coach Bill Walsh’s public remembrance at Candlestick Park in 2007, per the Walsh family’s wishes; and providing the impetus for Patriots’ coach Bill Belichick to allow quarterback Doug Flutie to convert a drop-kick in the 2005 season finale. It was the NFL’s first drop-kick since 1941.
Berman has anchored ESPN’s annual NFL Draft telecast since 1987, and he hosted ESPN’s two-hour documentary presentation in 2009 of The Greatest Game Ever Played highlighting the legendary 1958 NFL Championship Game between the Colts and Giants. His prognosticating alter-ego – the “Swami” – has provided weekly NFL predictions and observations on SportsCenter since 1979.
Berman has been named National Sportscaster of the Year six times by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association (NSSA), the CableACE Award as cable’s best sports host four times, and “Sportscaster of the Year” in the Studio Host category on three occasions by the American Sportscasters Association. His various shows have won 10 Emmy Awards and 12 CableACEs.
Other honors for Berman include the prestigious Reds Bagnell Award (2001) from the Maxwell Football Club of Philadelphia for “contributions to the game of football,” and The Pat Summerall Award at the 2009 Legends for Charity dinner in recognition of his longtime excellence in football broadcasting. Berman was named in 2008 to the CableFAX Hall of Fame as a member of the inaugural class of inductees, and he was honored May 24, 2010 by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame as a tribute for his more than 30 years of contribution to the sports television industry.
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