Legendary sports commentator and industry innovator Chris Berman has reached a new multi-year agreement with ESPN, it was announced today, on the occasion of Berman’s 66th birthday, by Norby Williamson, ESPN executive vice president and executive editor. Berman, who joined ESPN a month after its September 7, 1979 launch, will continue to bring his uniquely energetic and passionate style to various high-profile assignments.
Among the continuing roles for Berman will be hosting NFL PrimeTime on ESPN+, a signature weekly series that showcases his exceptional ability to anchor comprehensive game highlights in a one-of-a-kind format. Additionally, he will host NFL PrimeTime on ESPN after the Super Bowl and NFL Conference Championship games. He will also continue to contribute commentary, features, interviews and perspective across ESPN shows and platforms, including SportsCenter and beyond.
“Quite simply, Chris Berman has personified ESPN’s success for more than four decades,” Williamson said. “Fans respond to his authentic love of sports, his ability to savor and capture the big moments, and his on-air style that reminds us how live games can truly be equal parts essential and fun. We are delighted Boomer’s magical ride at ESPN will continue for years to come.”
Berman added, “Working at ESPN has been nothing short of a fairytale for me. We all love sports and the excitement they bring us on a daily basis. I’m thrilled to be able to continue this journey and share it with so many talented folks ‘in the building,’ and best of all, countless viewers who share the very same passion. I’d like to say it’s put me over the moon, but I’d better bring it up to date. It’s put me over Mars.”
Berman arrived at ESPN in October 1979 as a 24-year-old sportscaster and became one of the industry’s most popular voices during his more than 41-year career at the company. A six-time National Sportscaster of the Year, Berman has been recognized with numerous honors for his long and growing list of accomplishments. He was the first sportscaster to receive the Newseum Institute’s Al Neuharth Award for Excellence in Media in Washington, D.C., and he was inducted into the National Sports Media Association Hall of Fame in Salisbury, N.C. In 2015, Berman was just the fifth on-air personality to be inducted into the Cable Hall of Fame.
An original SportsCenter anchor, Berman hosted countless editions of ESPN’s signature program over the years. His NFL studio contributions have been particularly significant. From 1987-2005, he and longtime partner Tom Jackson teamed together for NFL PrimeTime, the first show of its kind and cable television’s all-time highest-rated sports studio show. The show returned in 2019 to its current ESPN+ home. He was the face of ESPN’s NFL Countdown for 31 years (through the 2016 season), an industry record for a weekly pro football studio show host.
His “Fastest Three Minutes in Television” halftime highlights has also been a staple during ESPN’s weekly NFL primetime game through the years, and his “Swami” segment on SportsCenter, dubbed “The Two Minute Drill,” has been a fixture throughout his ESPN tenure. The 2010 recipient of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award for longtime exceptional contributions to radio and television in professional football, Berman has covered 39 Super Bowls, hosted the NFL Draft for 30 years (through 2016), and has served as Master of Ceremony for the prestigious Pro Football Hall of Fame Induction since 1999.
Berman’s impact on the sports world goes well beyond football. He has called Major League Baseball games on TV and radio and hosted Baseball Tonight studio shows for many years. Most notably, Berman called ESPN’s Emmy Award-winning telecast of Cal Ripken’s 2,131st consecutive game on September 6, 1995, and he became a fan favorite nationally for the nicknames he created in his sports highlights. In all, he has covered 31 MLB All Star games, including calling Home Run Derbys in each of those years, and 30 World Series. Berman also covered the U.S. Open golf tournament from 1986-2014, and he co-hosted ESPN and ABC’s Stanley Cup Playoff telecasts in 2003 and 2004.
Berman graduated from Brown University in 1977 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history. His first broadcasting position came while he was a student at Brown as sports director for WBRU Radio and commentator for basketball, football, ice hockey and baseball games. He also assisted with NBC Sports telecasts in New England – including the memorable Game 6 of the 1975 World Series – and served as a correspondent for WEAN, a Providence, R.I. news radio station.
Berman began his career as a disc jockey at WERI in Westerly, RI, hosting a news-oriented talk show and covering high school football and basketball games. One year later, he joined WNVR Radio in Waterbury, Conn., broadcasting high school football games, co-hosting a sports talk show and doing traffic reports. His first television exposure came in 1979 when he joined WVIT-TV, an NBC affiliate in Hartford, Conn., as a weekend sports anchor.