Early in Cris Carter’s NFL playing career, former Minnesota Vikings owner Wheelock Whitney promised to take him to play at the famed Augusta National Golf Club if Carter made it to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. “In fact, he was the first person to ever call me a Hall of Famer,” said Carter of the Minneapolis businessman and philanthropist.
Nearly two decades later, Whitney lived up to his promise after the 16-year NFL wide receiver-turned-ESPN-analyst was named to the Hall’s Class of 2013 in February. continue reading…
For the first time in ESPN’s 34 years of televising the NFL Draft, the company’s Social Media group will have a presence at Radio City Music Hall. You might say they’re ESPN’s newest expansion team.
With hopes of engaging fans across multiple screens during the three-day telecast — beginning tonight at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN — Senior Manager of ESPN Social Media Jason Romano detailed the three major initiatives his group is planning this week: continue reading…
Chris Berman with “60 Minutes Sports” reporter Lara Logan (Bill Hofheimer/ESPN)
Six-time National Sportscaster of the Year Chris Berman, the longtime face of ESPN’s NFL coverage as host of Sunday NFL Countdown and the NFL Draft, will be profiled by Showtime’s 60 Minutes Sports tonight at 9 p.m. ET/PT.
Lara Logan, the chief foreign affairs correspondent for CBS News, conducted a wide-ranging interview with Berman in January. This video, courtesy of Showtime, is a preview of the feature.
Chris Berman with “60 Minutes Sports” reporter Lara Logan (Bill Hofheimer/ESPN)
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 ESPN Radio app, available for the iPad.
Less than a full day into NFL Free Agency, ESPN has announced a major signing of its own.
Two-time Baltimore Ravens Super Bowl champion and 12-time Pro Bowler Ray Lewisis joining the company as a NFL studio analyst.
Lewis, who will have a prominent role on Monday Night Countdown and Sunday NFL Countdown, is visiting the ESPN campus in Bristol, Conn., today as part of the EA Sports Madden cover vote. He is scheduled to appear on multiple programs throughout the day, including ESPN Radio’s Mike and Mike in the Morning (9:45 a.m. ET), SportsCenter (10 a.m.) and NFL Live (4 p.m.), where he will discuss his new ESPN role.
In the Front & Center podcast above, John Wildhack, ESPN’s executive vice president, production, talks about the addition of Lewis to ESPN’s NFL roster and what fans can expect from the future Hall of Famer as a broadcaster.
Former NFL quarterback Doug Williams speaks to ESPN employees during a luncheon. (Rich Arden/ESPN Images)
Editor’s note:ESPN celebrates Black History Month throughout February with related programming and content.
Super Bowl XXII MVP Doug Williams traces his fondness for ESPN back to the network’s inception in 1979.
Then a second-year NFL quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Williams bonded with a young reporter for the fledgling network who was visiting the team’s training facilities.
“I’ve been following ESPN since 1979 when [SportsCenter anchor] Chris Berman came down to Tampa Bay and I had the opportunity to throw him a couple of passes,” Williams said this week, when he visited the network’s Bristol, Conn., headquarters as a guest of P.U.L.S.E, one of ESPN’s eight Employee Resource Groups.
Williams, in his second stint as alma mater Grambling State’s head football coach, spoke to ESPN employees as part of the company’s celebration of Black History Month.
Williams, 57, is a football pioneer. As ESPN.com senior writer Greg Garber and ESPN producer Michael O’Connor chronicled for a Sunday NFL Countdown piece that aired earlier this month, Williams’ Super Bowl performance 25 years ago for the Washington Redskins continues to resonate.
The first black quarterback to win a Super Bowl, Williams remains the only one to do so.
In the midst of his first visit to the ESPN campus for appearances on various shows, Williams spoke to Front Row.
What did you think of the Sunday NFL Countdown feature on your historic Super Bowl?
My hat’s off to the crew that did that. I was so glad when [current Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III] RG III agreed to narrate it. I thought it put a little more pizzazz in it, brought it home emotionally. Twenty-five years . . . I thought it was special and I’m just gratified that ESPN was able to do it.
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.”
A quarter century ago – to the day – ESPN.com senior writer Greg Garber was covering Super Bowl XXII in San Diego’s Jack Murphy Stadium for the Hartford Courant. Feature producer Michael O’Connor was seven years old.
“I remember watching the second quarter and being delighted because I could write my story at halftime,” said Garber, 55, recalling the Washington Redskins’ 42-10 romp over the Denver Broncos.
ESPN’s Michael O’Connor. (Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)
“If I watched the game, I sure don’t remember it,” said O’Connor, 32.
Today, Garber and O’Connor are finalizing their Sunday NFL Countdown (Sunday, 10 a.m. ET, ESPN) feature on that game and more specifically, on MVP Doug Williams, who not only led the Redskins to victory, but made history in the process. Williams became the first African-American Super Bowl-winning quarterback.
The KIA NBA Countdown crew (L-R) Michael Wilbon, Magic Johnson, Jalen Rose and Bill Simmons. The group — minus Magic — will be in New Orleans tonight as ESPN presents an NBA doubleheader. (Scott Clarke / ESPN)
ESPN is taking KIA NBA Countdown — its NBA pre-game show – on the road for the first time this season. The destination?
It’s New Orleans — Jackson Square to be specific, where ESPN this week is presenting 120 hours of programming leading up to Super Bowl XLVII.
Analysts Jalen Rose, Bill Simmons and Michael Wilbon will be on site for Countdown at 7:30 p.m. ET, which precedes ESPN’s NBA doubleheader: Miami Heat at Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Lakers at Phoenix Suns. The crew will be back throughout the evening for halftime and post-game segments.
Front Row had the chance to catch up with Countdown coordinating producer Amina Hussein — the former CP for Sunday NFL Countdown — who is at the helm of several exciting changes to Countdown this year, the latest of which is a trip to the Super Bowl host city.
Aren’t you supposed to be done with football now?
[Laughs] As a fan I am never done with football. Being from the Bay Area, it’s exciting to have a Bay Area team in the big game, even if it’s not the Raiders.
How did the decision to take KIA NBA Countdown to the Super Bowl happen?continue reading…
Here’s a graphic showing the results of Twitter voting on ESPN’s NFL programming. (ESPN)
NEW ORLEANS — Four members of ESPN’s newly-formed social media integration unit are here to help engage fans through Twitter, Facebook and other platforms in unique ways.
Front Row spoke with Steve Braband and Jason Romano of the social media group to discuss their plans for Sunday’s Super Bowl XLVII.
What is your team’s ultimate goal for Super Bowl week? JR: Our goal is to engage fans through social media and give them a place to voice their opinion on topics that will be discussed on our ESPN shows.
Where can fans go to interact with ESPN during Super Bowl week? JR: Fans should follow @ESPNNFL, the Twitter feed that encompasses all of ESPN’s NFL studio coverage. This will be one-stop shopping for all things NFL in New Orleans this week.
ESPN SOCIAL FAST FACT: ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown debuted live Twitter voting on Jan. 6 during the NFL playoffs. Within minutes, more than 20,000 fans answered this question: “Who will have a bigger game today, Robert Griffin III or Russell Wilson?” RGIII captured 52 percent of the vote.