Samantha Ponder and Rex Ryan Make Their Sunday NFL Countdown Debuts, Sept. 10
Host Samantha Ponder and former Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan will make their Sunday NFL Countdown debuts this weekend on ESPN’s signature NFL program. The now three-hour show airs Sunday, Sept. 10, at 10 a.m. ET. Ponder will be joined by analysts Matt Hasselbeck, Randy Moss, Charles Woodson and Ryan (in Denver for MNF), as well as insiders Chris Mortensen, Louis Riddick, Adam Schefter and senior fantasy sports analyst Matthew Berry.
Reporter assignments for week 1:
- Eagles at Redskins (Sal Paolantonio)
- Raiders at Titans (Dianna Russini – making her Countdown debut)
- Jaguars at Texans (Jeff Darlington)
- Steelers at Browns (Dan Graziano – making his Countdown debut)
- Seahawks at Packers (Josina Anderson)
- Giants at Cowboys (Jim Trotter)
Countdown’s planned feature stories include a NFL Films-produced piece voiced by Riddick entitled Inside the Building: How the Texans Prepared to Take the Field Knowing their City is in Turmoil. The story captures how the Houston Texans players, coaches and team staff responded to the dire needs in their community following Hurricane Harvey.
- Players’ Celebration: After the NFL relaxed its in-game celebration rules for players this offseason, new Countdown features reporter Jac Collinsworth debuts his first piece on how players plan to celebrate. Some of the NFL players featured include Von Miller (Broncos), Jarvis Landry (Dolphins) and LeSean McCoy (Bills). Comedian Keegan Michael-Key – known for his character Hingle McCringleberry in Comedy Central’s “Key and Peele” series – also makes an appearance.
- Matt Ryan’s Redemption: Reporter Jim Trotter visits with quarterback Matt Ryan to discuss how he and the Atlanta Falcons will bounce back from their Super Bowl LI defeat to the Patriots.
- Earl Thomas Conversation with Chris Berman: Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas tells Chris Berman why he decided to return to football after contemplating retirement following a 2016 season-ending injury.
- Adam Schefter – Michigan’s Honorary Captain: On Saturday, NFL Insider Adam Schefter will return to his alma mater as the honorary captain for the Wolverines’ game against the Cincinnati Bearcats in Ann Arbor. Countdown will air a behind-the-scenes look from Schefter’s day.
MNF Season-Opening Doubleheader: Saints at Vikings and Chargers at Broncos
The 48th season of Monday Night Football (12th on ESPN) begins on September 11 with a doubleheader: quarterback Drew Brees, running back Adrian Peterson and the New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings, in Peterson’s return to his old team, at 6:55 p.m. ET, and Philip Rivers and the new Los Angeles Chargers at the Denver Broncos, led by linebacker Von Miller, at 10:15 p.m.
Sean McDonough, in his second season in the MNF booth, will call the Saints-Vikings game with analyst Jon Gruden and sideline reporter Lisa Salters. Immediately following the game, Beth Mowins will make her MNF debut calling the second matchup in the season-opening doubleheader – Chargers at Broncos – at 10:15 p.m., becoming the first woman to call a nationally-televised NFL game. Mowins will be joined by Rex Ryan in the booth and sideline reporter Sergio Dipp of ESPN Deportes.
ESPN Deportes’ Spanish-language presentation of the MNF doubleheader will be available via simulcast on ESPN2. Additionally, Saints-Vikings and Chargers-Broncos will be streamed live on the ESPN App.
Monday Night Countdown: Michelle Beisner-Buck on Former Chargers PR Director Bill Johnston
Leading into Saints-Vikings, Suzy Kolber will host a two-hour Monday Night Countdown pregame at 5 p.m. with analysts Matt Hasselbeck, Randy Moss, Charles Woodson and Steve Young live from US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. NFL Insiders Chris Mortensen, Louis Riddick and Adam Schefter will appear from Bristol, and features reporter Michelle Beisner-Buck will be in Denver.
Monday Night Countdown highlights:
- Gruden’s Chalk Talk with Harrison Smith: Gruden, MNF analyst and Super Bowl-winning coach, sits for an Xs and Os interview with Vikings free safety Harrison Smith.
- Michelle Beisner-Buck Feature – Bill Johnston’s Love: Beisner-Buck tells the heartwarming story of longtime Chargers PR director Bill Johnston, who made the difficult decision to vacate his position with the team and remain in San Diego so his wife, Ramona, who has battled Huntington’s Disease since 1999, will be able to continue to receive the care and attention she has received.
- Boomer’s Vault: Legendary ESPN NFL host Chris Berman will debut his new weekly Countdown series highlighting iconic moments in MNF. The debut Vault feature will look back at the NFL’s return to New Orleans in 2006 after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, highlighted by Steve Gleason’s memorable blocked punt for the Saints.
- C’Mon Man: The popular Monday Night Countdown segment highlighting humorous moments and blunders from the weekend’s football action that had our analysts saying, “C’Mon Man!” returns for another season.
ESPN Radio: Eagles-Redskins and Colts-Rams in Season-Opening Doubleheader
ESPN Radio will kick off its weekly 2017 Sunday NFL schedule on Sept. 10, with a doubleheader — Philadelphia Eagles vs. Washington Redskins (noon), followed by Indianapolis Colts vs. Los Angeles Rams (4 p.m.). Commentator Adam Amin and analyst Bill Polian will call the early game, with Marc Kestecher and Herm Edwards will be in the booth for the second game.
Fantasy Football Now (10 a.m. – 1 p.m., ESPN2/ESPN App)
SportsCenter anchor Lisa Kerney makes her Fantasy Football Now host debut Sunday, joining analysts Matthew Berry, Tim Hasselbeck, Field Yates and injury analyst Stephania Bell at 10 a.m. on ESPN2 on the now three-hour show. Highlights:
- Flex Appeal: Berry and Hasselbeck rank the RBs, WRs and TEs, giving fans insight on the best flex position options for their fantasy lineup.
- Weekly recaps of the best of the Fantasy Focus Podcast and the daily The Fantasy Show with Berry.
- Red Zone: Berry, Hasselbeck, Yates and Bell compete in season-long weekly fantasy predictions. Rankings will be mentioned each Sunday. At the conclusion of the season, the winner will receive the “Red Zone Champions Belt.”
- Down to the Wire: this new segment will simulcast with Sunday NFL Countdown each week, pairing Berry with NFL Insiders Schefter and Mortensen to give viewers the latest news and fantasy advice.
- Comprehensive positional rankings will help fantasy players with all their roster decisions.
Additionally, Fantasy Football Now will feature up-to-the-minute live reports from stadiums, latest injury updates on active/inactive players, and live on-air answers to viewer questions submitted via Twitter using the #FFNow hashtag.
ESPN The Magazine: 2017 NFL Preview Issue – Mina Kimes Profiles Aaron Rodgers
The NFL Preview issue of ESPN The Magazine (on newsstands Friday, Sept. 8) includes previews and season projections for all 32 teams. Highlights include senior writer Mina Kimes’ “The Search for Aaron Rodgers”, David Fleming’s story on Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera’s plan to protect quarterback Cam Newton, and the Mark Fainaru-Wada and Simon Baumgart collaboration with Outside the Lines that explores “Who Does This to People?” – an investigation on the growing number of women left to take care of men whose brains have been addled from years of playing football.
Week 1 features for ESPN’s platform focused on the intersections of sports, race and culture include:
- Senior NFL writer Jason Reid looks at the first season-opening matchup between African-American head coaches – LA Chargers’ Anthony Lynn at Denver Broncos’ Vance Joseph. Reid will also cover the game.
- Senior digital producer Lois Nam profiles Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett, who is described as an activist disguised as a football player.