Ditka, an ESPN NFL analyst since 2004 and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, played and coached for the Bears during his legendary career. In fact, he is the only individual in the NFL’s modern era to win a league championship with the same team as both a player (1963) and head coach (1985). continue reading…
A collection of ESPN’s Super Bowl champions on-set in New Orleans. (Tonya Malinowski/ESPN)
NEW ORLEANS — ESPN commentators offer their predictions for Super Bowl XLVII. Of the 35 ESPN commentator picks, 21 chose the San Francisco 49ers, while 14 selected the Baltimore Ravens as the anticipated winner:
Picking the 49ers:
Tedy Bruschi, NFL Live analyst and three-time Super Bowl champion, 28-27: “The difference is the 49ers’ offensive line. Frank Gore is the MVP.”
Frank Caliendo, comedian/impersonator and Sunday NFL Countdown contributor, 30-27: “Both teams — who have been known for their defenses — have been putting points on the board as of late, but I think the 49ers have a little more firepower — and I really just want to see how crazy [head coach] Jim Harbaugh goes if they win.”
Cris Carter, Sunday NFL Countdown and Monday Night Countdown analyst, 31-27: “[Colin] Kaepernick’s going to run the ball a lot.”
John Clayton, ESPN.com senior NFL writer, 28-24: “With power football in vogue in this Super Bowl, the 49ers will overpower the Ravens at the end. The 49ers are deep in talent and focused, but it still wouldn’t surprise me if they need overtime to get the win.”
Trent Dilfer, Monday Night Countdown analyst and Baltimore Ravens Super Bowl XXXV champion quarterback, 31-23: “As conflicted as I am having to pick between two of my former teams . . . Both move the ball. The Pistol [offense] allows the Niners to punch it in, while the Ravens are stuck kicking field goals.”
Mike Ditka, Sunday NFL Countdown and Monday Night Countdown analyst, Super Bowl champion as player, coach, 28-24: “I like what Jim [Harbaugh] has done and how he’s built the team. If the 49ers do not get a pass rush, they will be in trouble but they have found a way to get it done all season.”
Herm Edwards, NFL Live analyst, 27-24: “The 49ers have too many options on offense that present problems for the Ravens. Even though Colin Kaepernick is young, sometimes being young and naïve in a game like this is a good thing.”
Merril Hoge, NFL Live, NFL Matchup and NFL PrimeTime analyst, 21-20: “The core of the 49ers, the offensive and defensive lines, is the best in football. Colin Kaepernick has brought focus to their offense, but it’s because they are so good in the trenches.”
Tom Jackson, Sunday NFL Countdown and Monday Night Countdown analyst, 24-21: “In the critical area — the front line on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball — I think the 49ers have an edge.”
Keyshawn Johnson, Sunday NFL Countdown and Monday Night Countdown analyst and Super Bowl champion, 24-17: “No one’s figured out how to stop this Pistol offense. Defenses have struggled against this offense and Kaepernick.”
Chris Mortensen, NFL senior analyst and NFL32 co-host, 31-23: “Colin Kaepernick’s composure has been the biggest surprise for me this postseason, and I don’t think he’s going to lose it on the NFL’s biggest stage.”
Jerry Rice, NFL Live analyst, Hall of Famer and three-time San Francisco 49ers Super Bowl champion, 24-17: “The Niners will have a better defense and Colin Kaepernick bringing so many different formations to the offense will present matchup problems for the Ravens.”
Ryen Russillo, co-host of ESPN Radio’s SVP & Russillo, 24-17: “San Francisco has been the best team all season and they will be the better team on Sunday.”
Adam Schefter, NFL Insider, 17-14: “Two throwback teams playing a throwback game in which two undrafted free agent kickers, David Akers and Justin Tucker, could decide the world championship.”
Mark Schlereth, NFL Live analyst, ESPN Radio host and three-time Super Bowl champion, 28-27: “Offensively, Colin Kaepernick — the dual-threat and read-option [QB] — will be too much.”
Washington Redskins linebacker London Fletcher (l) caught up with former rival and NFL analyst Darren Woodson in the ESPN newsroom during a guest analyst appearance in Bristol this week. (Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)
Even in the offseason, the Washington Redskins linebacker does not like a lot of down time.
Just 10 days after the Redskins’ season ended in a 24-14 NFC Wildcard Playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks, Fletcher visited ESPN and appeared on various NFL shows to lend his insights.
“I really just enjoyed learning about everything that goes into producing a show,” he said.
Becoming an NFL television analyst “would be the ideal transition” as a post-playing career option, Fletcher said Thursday. He enjoyed his two-day stint on-air and appeared on SportsCenter, NFL Live and NFL32 to help ESPN bring fans more insights into the AFC and NFC Conference Championship games this weekend. continue reading…
The New England Patriots and the Houston Texans will meet for an AFC divisional playoff game Sunday, 4:30 P.M. ET at Gillette Stadium. Quarterback Tom Brady and the Patriots are favored to win the game; the last time the teams met they defeated the Texans 42-14. But don’t despair, Texans fans.
In the video above, Numbers Never Lie hosts Michael Smith, Hugh Douglas and Jalen Rose explain why the Texans may have a chance to win.
ESPN’s divisional playoff coverage will feature two editions of Sunday NFL Countdown — a two-hour special Saturday, Jan. 12, at 10 a.m. ET, and the regular three-hour edition Sunday, Jan. 13, at 10 a.m.
ICYMI: Highlights from the past week on Front Row
• The latest “This Is SportsCenter” segment stars anchors Chris McKendry, Stuart Scott, the Boston College Eagle and the Temple Owl mascots. Watch the ad and see how it came about.
• Between wrapping up his College GameDay season and preparing for the Australian Open, Chris Fowler describes what’s it’s like to make such a quick transition “from sport to sport, role to role, winter to summer and North America to Down Under.”
• ESPN’s Talent Department recruits, manages, coaches and retains more than 1,000 commentators. A sampling of the hundreds of ESPN contract renewals and/or new signings of 2012 can be found here.
• You’ve seen him on Pardon the Interruption and Around the Horn, but ESPN.com columnist J.A. Adande also works as an educator in USC’s journalism department. He shares more about his role as an educator in this Front & Center podcast.
A few of the ESPN personalities who renewed and/or signed contracts in 2012. (ESPN Images)
Below is a small sampling of the hundreds of ESPN contract renewals and/or new signings in 2012
Mary Jo Fernandez
Mel Kiper Jr.
Stephen A. Smith
Jeff Van Gundy
Scott Van Pelt
ESPN’s Talent Department, born in 2008, was created to recruit, manage, coach and retain the more than 1,000 commentators the company employs — from TV/radio personnel to digital/print reporters to international staff.
“The realization was that production folks who had worked closest with commentators were understandably focused on producing content,” said Laurie Orlando, Senior Vice President, Talent Planning and Development, who returned to ESPN in ’08 to help start the department.
The talent office has become an important resource and differentiation point for ESPN.
“We have a year-round planning and development strategy, in collaboration with day-to-day production staff and management,” Orlando said. “For each sport, we meet to talk about talent a week or two after a season ends or at a set time for SportsCenter anchors, reporters or radio hosts.
“At those points, we’ll review the season, discuss who we’d like to renew, whose skills we can develop through training [ESPN coaching resources include interviewing, vocal quality, presence/performance] and who from the outside may be available now or in the future to make us better,” she said.
Contract planning also takes into consideration the length of ESPN’s programming rights deals. continue reading…
When birds meet glass, the outcome is no laughing matter.
When people dressed as giant birds purposely run into glass windows, however, the imagery is going to generate some smiles.
The latest “This Is SportsCenter” segment stars anchors Chris McKendry, Stuart Scott, the Boston College Eagle and the Temple Owl mascots.
A.J. Mazza, Manager, ESPN Marketing, fills Front Row in on how the latest ad in the classic series was conceived.
“Birds” seems like a simple concept. How did the idea come about?
We often find that the simplest spots that hone in on something relatable resonate the most with our fans. This came together at the 11th hour, really. We try and do a few “This is SportsCenter” shoots per year, coming away with about six new spots each round that we roll out over the course of a year. We were hoping to get six spots out of this particular shoot, but a couple athletes had to cancel at the last minute due to personal circumstances. Our agency did some quick thinking and came up with what we think is a pretty clever, relatable concept. And, of course, we always love when we can incorporate mascots. Fortunately the birds were available last minute, and were great sports. We also need to thank Stuart and Chris, as they moved around a few things last minute to participate.
How did you select the mascots?
We started by making a list of all of the major “bird” mascots and then we began making calls to see who might be available. Within 30 minutes, we had a few on board. We made their travel arrangements and brought them out to Bristol.
How many takes were involved? Any funny stories behind the practice runs?continue reading…
Click HERE to listen or visit iTunes to download the podcast and be sure to SUBSCRIBE to the Front & Center podcast. Also, make sure to check out the all new ESPN Radio app, now available for the iPad.
You might love drinking an Arnold Palmer (the delicious iced tea/lemonade concoction) on a hot summer day, but do you know how the famous drink got its name?
With the start of ESPN’s sixth annual Jimmy V Week for Cancer Research, ESPN announced a donation of $1 million to The V Foundation for Cancer Research. The donation will support The V Foundation’s endowment fund, which helps cover operating costs of the foundation, enabling 100 percent of cash donations to go directly to research.
Viewers and fans can join ESPN and The V Foundation in the fight against cancer by calling 1-800-4-JIMMY-V, visiting jimmyv.org or texting JimmyV to #80888 throughout Jimmy V Week to make a donation toward cancer research.
“It’s fitting for ESPN to make this commitment as we begin Jimmy V Week, when our employees and sports fans are passionate in joining together to make a difference to beat this disease,” said George Bodenheimer, ESPN Executive Chairman.
Jimmy V Week tips off tonight at 7 p.m. ET with a simulcast of former N.C. State coach Jim Valvano’s 1993 ESPYs speech across ESPN domestic media networks, as well as on the ABC SuperSign in Times Square.
The 13-minute speech will air simultaneously on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPNEWS, ESPN Classic, ESPN3, ESPN Deportes, Longhorn Network and ESPN 3D. Fans also can watch on ESPN.com, ESPN3, WatchESPN and jimmyv.org throughout the week.
The simulcast of the speech on all platforms includes an introduction by two cancer survivors, SportsCenter anchor Stuart Scott and New York Giants linebacker Mark Herzlich.
The week will conclude with the Jimmy V Women’s and Men’s Basketball Classics Presented by Corona Extra on Monday, Dec. 3 and Tuesday, Dec. 4.
ESPN’s Bristol, Conn., studios will be bustling with excitement on Wednesday when the 2012 WNBA Draft Lottery — to establish the first four picks of next April’s draft — will be held during the 6 p.m. ET edition of SportsCenter on ESPN.
While the WNBA Draft has been on ESPN’s campus the last two April’s, this marks the first time in league history the Lottery will be aired nationally. ESPN anchor Stuart Scott and basketball analyst Carolyn Peck will reveal the Lottery winner from ESPN’s Studio A. continue reading…