He’s been a prominent figure on ESPN virtually since its inception in 1979.
But on September 10, a lifelong dream in Chris Berman’s career will finally come true: he will be the lead analyst for the late game on ESPN’s season-opening “Monday Night Football” doubleheader, alongside veteran ESPN NFL analyst Trent Dilfer, who will be the color commentator on the late ESPN “MNF” game for the third year in a row.
The Worldwide Leader made the announcement earlier this morning – putting to rest rampant speculation that Berman would be in the catbird seat for the Oakland Raiders’ first game of the 2012 season against the San Diego Chargers – or as Berman likes to refer to the team, “the San Diego Super Chargers.”
Yep. Expect a lot of that kinda drivel for about three hours.
Not long after ESPN confirmed the “MNF” team for the Chargers/Raiders game, Deadspin had revealed that calling a single NFL game on ESPN was something that Berman had long coveted ever since the network started carrying NFL games on a shared-season basis with TNT. In fact, Berman was incensed that colleague Tony Kornheiser, whom Chris “despises,” landed a regular gig in the “MNF” booth.
Maybe this is the reason why ESPN finally decided to give Berman the booth assignment: they were running out of people suitable to call an NFL game.
Look at this list of announcers for the second game of the “MNF” doubleheader on ESPN, since the format was instilled in 2006. Morning hosts Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic have done the game for three years. For one year prior and two years after, it was Brad Nessler with the play-by-play. Nessler is now an NFL Network employee, and he will be calling thirteen Thursday night games starting this year, beginning three days after the Chargers/Raiders Monday nighter. And, for whatever reason, “Mike & Mike” weren’t interested, and you can bet they were approached before agreeing to let Berman have the game. Unless Dilfer just doesn’t get along with Greenberg and Golic, for some reason.
Also, remember this will be the first year that the main “Monday Night Football” booth will be without the services of Ron Jaworski, meaning it’ll only be Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden calling the action all season long (save for the final week of the season). But Jaworski is still an ESPN employee, and will be seen and heard from plenty throughout the football year. Do you suppose they asked Ron Jaworski to call the game before settling on Chris Berman? Yes, he’s very mellifluous in breaking things down – but it’s just one game for the whole year, and it’s not like it’s the Broncos or anything. (Food for thought: this will be the fourth time that either the Chargers or Raiders will appear on ESPN’s late “MNF” season opener contest – so I guess it’s natural they play each other for bragging rights.)
So football fans, prepare for what should be three hours of “rumblin’, bumblin’, stumblin'” and “boom boom boom” – and, yes, perhaps a big “WHOOP” or two – as the “Rai-dahs” host the “San Diego Super Chargers”, and if you’ve been a viewer of Berman on “SportsCenter” over the years, the catchphrases should be almost predictable. Guarantee if Michael Bush breaks Charger tackles and runs free, he’ll play the “he… could… go… all… the… way” card.
And while a dream will become reality for Chris Berman, one word of advice – not like he needs it from a blogger, since his career at ESPN spans five decades. But what I’m about to point out makes you wonder if ESPN has been so defiant against letting Berman call a “Monday Night Football” game all these years.
I’ll just direct your attention to this video – I wouldn’t view it at work, if I were you. Yep, it’s Berman’s Bill O’Reilly moment before Bill O’Reilly had his Bill O’Reilly moment (and I wouldn’t view that one at work, either).
You just know if there’s virtually no running game for either the Raiders or the Chargers, he might just lose it.