ESPN turns 33 and “79er” Chris Berman signs multi-year extension

He is, what is known around the ESPN campus, as a “79er.” That’s what the select group of original ESPN employees, who began with the company in 1979 are affectionately called.

Today, as ESPN blows out 33 candles on its birthday cake, the company also announces the re-signing of six-time National Sportscaster of the Year Chris Berman, one of ESPN’s original anchors. Berman joined ESPN in October 1979 — less than a month after the network launched

Berman’s extension will officially begin in 2013. At the conclusion of his new deal, he will have worked for ESPN for nearly 40 years.

“On the day we commemorate our company’s birthday, it’s fitting we extend our relationship with Chris, arguably the most recognizable face and voice in ESPN’s history,” said ESPN President John Skipper. “Since arriving in Bristol in 1979, Chris’ passion and enthusiasm, and, of course his signature highlights, have long been his trademarks, earning him a special place among fans for more than three decades.”

“I never could have dreamed that ESPN would be my home as a young man in his 20’s all the way to a not-so-young man in his 60’s,” Berman said. “It’s always been a privilege to work alongside thousands of colleagues who love the sports we cover and the people who make them so special. It remains an honor to be welcomed into the homes of sports fans far and wide, and I’m thrilled to be able to continue such a marvelous journey.”

In addition to occupying his familiar host position on ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown (Sundays, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. ET), Berman will handle NFL play-by-play for the first time in his career this coming Monday when he calls the San Diego Chargers-Oakland Raiders game (10:15 p.m.) alongside Trent Dilfer as part of ESPN’s season-opening MNF doubleheader.

In the photo gallery above, Front Row turns back the clock with pictures of Berman through the years.