New Fast-Paced, Two-Hour Sunday NFL Countdown; Features on Andrew Luck, Odell Beckham and Frank Caliendo with The Muppets
Sunday NFL Countdown – which marks its 30th anniversary in 2015 – will preview the first weekend of NFL matchups beginning at a new start time, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. ET. The new fast-paced, two-hour program features host Chris Berman, analysts Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson and Keyshawn Johnson, host/reporter Wendi Nix and NFL Insiders Chris Mortensen, Adam Schefter, and senior fantasy sports analyst Matthew Berry, in an expanded role.
Reporter game assignments for week 1:
- Packers at Bears (Bob Holtzman)
- Colts at Bills (Sal Paolantonio)
- Seahawks at Rams (Britt McHenry)
- Titans at Buccaneers (Michele Steele)
- Ravens at Broncos (Josina Anderson)
- Giants at Cowboys (Ed Werder)
- Before The Catch – NFL Nation reporter Dan Graziano profiles Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham through the eyes of those who know him before “The Catch” that brought him to national attention as one of the league’s best young receivers. Interview subjects include – former LSU teammate Jarvis Landry, now with the Dolphins, and his godfather, NBA great Shaquille O’Neal;
- More Than Luck – Countdown’s Michelle Beisner reports on the lessons that Colts QB Andrew Luck learned from his father, Oliver, a former NFL quarterback. The father and son discuss their close bond – drawn from years living together in Europe;
- Frank Caliendo – Comedian Frank Caliendo, who reached a new contract extension with ESPN, invites Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear and other Muppets – stars of the new ABC primetime series “The Muppets,” premiering Tuesday, Sept. 22 at 8 p.m. ET – to help him preview the new NFL season on
MNF Season-Opening Doubleheader: Eagles vs. Falcons and Vikings vs. 49ers
The 46th season of Monday Night Football begin on September 14 with a doubleheader: Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons host Sam Bradford and the Philadelphia Eagles at 7 p.m. ET, and running back Adrian Peterson and the Minnesota Vikings at the San Francisco 49ers, led by quarterback Colin Kaepernick, at 10:15 p.m.
MNF play-by-play announcer Mike Tirico, analyst Jon Gruden and sideline reporter Lisa Salters will call the early game from the Georgia Dome, while Chris Berman, analyst Trent Dilfer and reporter Lindsay Czarniak will cover the Vikings-49ers at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., site of Super Bowl 50 in February. Both games will be available on ESPN Deportes and WatchESPN.
Suzy Kolber will host a two-hour Monday Night Countdown pregame (5 p.m.) with analysts Ray Lewis, Carter, Ditka, Jackson and Johnson, live from Atlanta. Insiders Mortensen, Schefter and senior fantasy analyst Berry will join from the ESPN studios in Bristol. Czarniak and analyst Steve Young will be in Santa Clara.
Monday Night Countdown highlights:
- Gruden’s Grill Session with Matt Ryan: Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons enter the season with a new head coach John Quinn and a new outlook. The quarterback visits with Super Bowl-winning coach and MNF’s Jon Gruden.
- Ray Lewis Conversation with Sam Bradford: Monday Night Countdown’s Ray Lewis sits for a one-on-one conversation with Sam Bradford, ahead of the Eagles quarterback’s debut in head coach Chip Kelly’s offense.
- Rick Reilly Feature – How I Spent My Summer Vacation: Monday Night Countdown essayist Rick Reilly pens a tongue-in-cheek television essay about how some NFL players and coaches spent their summer holidays, ranging from the outrageous to the sublime. Examples include Rams linemen Chris Long and William Hayes experiencing homelessness for 24 hours in downtown St. Louis; some San Francisco 49ers traveling to Haiti to aid orphans; Detroit linebacker DeAndre Levy’s walk on the wings of a biplane; and more.
- Soundtracks – Jim Tomsula: Following an offseason of on-the-field roster moves and coaching changes in San Francisco, Jim Tomsula is the 49ers’ new first-year head coach. Wired for sound during training camp, Tomsula is the subject of Monday’s “Soundtracks.”
ESPN Radio – Andrew Luck and Indianapolis Colts at the Buffalo Bills
ESPN Radio will kick off its third season of afternoon NFL broadcasts on Sunday, Sept. 13, when Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts visit the Buffalo Bills and LeSean McCoy. Coverage begins at noon, with Ryan Ruocco, analyst Bill Polian and reporter Ian Fitzsimmons calling the action.
Also, Sundays on ESPN Radio will offer daylong NFL coverage, including the latest fantasy analysis, league news, updates and reports.
NFL Matchup: Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota – Next Generation QBs; Peyton Manning and More
NFL Matchup host Sal Paolantonio and analysts Ron Jaworski and Merril Hoge return with their weekly preview of the weekend’s NFL matchups via film-room X’s and O’s analysis. The 2015 season-opener will air on Saturday, Sept. 12, at 8:30 a.m. on ESPN (re-air on ESPN, Sunday at 4 and 6:30 a.m.). Highlights:
- The Next Generation: Jameis Winston (Buccaneers) and Marcus Mariota (Titans), the No. 1 and No. 2 picks in the 2015 NFL Draft, have been named starting quarterbacks for their respective teams. Jaworski and Hoge review the positive qualities Winston and Mariota bring to their teams and discuss areas of improvements both quarterbacks must make to be successful in their rookie seasons.
- Peyton Manning play-action pass: Hoge explains the intricate elements of a classic Peyton Manning play- action pass and illustrates how the quarterback and the Broncos offense will look to establish a solid run game this season.
- Coaches coach against other coaches: Jaworski and Hoge explore the defensive coaching philosophies of first-year Falcons head coach Dan Quinn and compares it to the base defense employed by Cleveland Browns’ Mike Pettine.
Outside the Lines: Dwight Freeney – Banking on Trust (Sunday, Sept. 13, 9:00 a.m. ESPN2)
Once the highest paid defensive player in the NFL, Dwight Freeney wanted to protect his future. So, he entrusted his money to one of the nation’s largest banks and a financial advisor who said she’d protect him even after she left the bank. Instead, authorities say this advisor helped her alleged love interest squander $20 million of Freeney’s fortune. The two went to prison. But, as Steve Delsohn reports, Freeney believes the bank should also be held responsible. Preview
- “She worked for the bank. She brought him in. They had a master scheme to take advantage of me before I even got there, and it started to execute once I put my money in the bank.” – Dwight Freeney on the connection between his financial advisors and the bank.
- “It’s the bank who’s responsible. They have to be held accountable for the people that they hire and things that happen under their watch.” — Dwight Freeney on why he’s suing Merrill Lynch and Bank of America.
Grantland: Bill Barnwell’s Four-Part Season Preview
In a comprehensive four-part season preview, Grantland’s Bill Barnwell examines the NFL’s 32 teams. The preview series debuted Monday with “The Cellar-Dwellers” and concludes today with “Super Bowl Contenders.” Highlights:
- Group 1 – Cellar-Dwellers: Eight teams expected to compete for the No. 1 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft;
- Group II – Falling Stars: Eight teams Barnwell “expects to decline — either in terms of record, level of performance, or both — in 2015”;
- Group III – Rising Stars: Eight teams that underperformed last season but should be on the incline in 2015; and
- Group IV – Super Bowl 50 Contenders.