Berman’s Final Sunday NFL Countdown in Bristol Concludes with Special Presentation, Surprise Visits from Jackson and Chris Mortensen
Photos via ESPN Images
Today’s Sunday NFL Countdown featured a special presentation as sports broadcasting legend Chris Berman hosted his final show in-studio on ESPN’s Bristol, Conn., campus after 38 years. In the closing minutes of the program, Berman’s longtime friends and colleagues Tom Jackson and Chris Mortensen joined him and the current Countdown crew on-set as the NFL studio in ESPN’s Digital Center 2 building was officially renamed the Chris Berman-Tom Jackson studio. It is the first time in the company’s history that a studio has been dedicated to a commentator or executive. Video.
Earlier this month, it was announced that Berman, the six-time National Sportscaster of the Year who arrived at ESPN a month after the network launched in 1979, will assume a new role with the company after the NFL season. Jackson retired from ESPN in August after nearly three decades as a NFL analyst.
Berman and Jackson worked together for 29 years (1987-2015) on Sunday NFL Countdown, NFL PrimeTime and other ESPN shows. Their partnership is the longest in sports television history and second only to TV’s longest duo, Johnny Carson and Ed McMahon on The Tonight Show. From 1987-2005, Berman and Jackson teamed together for NFL PrimeTime, the first show of its kind and cable television’s all-time highest-rated weekly studio show.
Both Berman and Jackson have been honored by the Pro Football Hall of Fame with the prestigious Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award for longtime exceptional contributions to radio and television in professional football, and Berman’s 31 consecutive years as studio host of Countdown more than doubles Brent Musburger’s previous 15-year record as the longest-running host of a weekly pro football studio show.
Mortensen, who has worked with Berman and Jackson since joining ESPN in 1991, helped make the surprise presentation as the senior NFL analyst made his first visit to campus since he was diagnosed with Stage IV throat cancer in January 2016.
The veteran ESPN trio was joined on-set by the current Countdown team of Trent Dilfer, Matt Hasselbeck, Randy Moss, Charles Woodson, Adam Schefter and Wendi Nix.
ESPN President John Skipper said: “They are a one-of-a-kind duo. This is an unprecedented honor from ESPN that was earned with creativity, personal dedication and preparation from Chris and Tom and awarded with joy, pride and appreciation. Well done and thanks, Boomer and TJ.”
Added Stephanie Druley, ESPN senior vice president of events and studio production: “Boomer and Tommy were a remarkable team. Their friendship and love of football helped set the standard for highlights and our NFL coverage at ESPN. No one is more deserving of this honor.”
The plaque now honoring Berman and Jackson outside the NFL studio reads:
“In recognition of their immeasurable contributions to the company and our industry, ESPN officially declares this the Chris Berman-Tom Jackson studio. Their 29-year on-air partnership is a sports television record that has earned them a special place in the hearts and minds of football fans everywhere. They will always be part of the ESPN family. – January 22, 2017
While today was Berman’s final Countdown show in-studio, he will host ESPN Countdown shows and additional coverage from the NFL Pro Bowl in Orlando (Jan. 29) and Super Bowl LI in Houston (Feb. 5) over the next two weeks. ESPN will also air a one-hour special during Super Bowl week documenting Berman’s career and impact – “He Did Go All The Way” – on Thursday, February 2, at 10:30 p.m. ET.
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