Legendary NFL coach and ESPN personality Mike Ditka is going to have a new role with the worldwide leader in sports.
Mike Ditka has signed a new contract extension that will keep him with ESPN at least for the next two years. It also alters his role with the network somewhat. Instead of his regular role on the network’s NFL broadcasts the new contract makes Ditka a contributor on SportsCenter, the network’s flagship news and information program. The change in roles was apparently Ditka’s choice rather than that of the network. “This new role is really a blessing. It’s something I asked for,” he said. “After many years of weekend travel, I’m thrilled I’ll get to watch NFL games on Sundays and Monday nights in the comfort of my own home. I enjoy being part of the game and part of ESPN. I really do. So this is a great solution.”
Seth Markman is ESPN’s VP senior coordinating producer of NFL studio shows. He verified Ditka’s statement noting that “Mike talked with me late in the year about his role for next season. Thankfully we were able to come to an agreement that works for him and keeps him a part of our ESPN family. He went on to note his pleasure that the deal had been reached saying, “This announcement is great news for us and for our viewers, as Coach Ditka continues to be someone NFL fans everywhere respect and admire.” Ditka’s new deal takes effect this September. It will see him contributing to SportsCenter not just during football season but on a year-round basis. Ditka joined ESPN’s on-air staff in 2004.
Just as ESPN has announced that Ditka’s role with the network will change later this year, it has also announced this week that veteran NFL quarterback Matt Hasselbeck will become the network’s latest member of the network’s on-air staff.
Hasselbeck announced his retirement from the NFL this week after eighteen seasons in the league. Over the course of those eighteen seasons he became a three-time Pro Bowler. He played his final season with the Indianapolis Colts in 2015. He started his career playing with the Green Bay Packers from 1998 – 2000 as the backup to NFL great Brett Favre. In 2001 he was traded to the Seattle Seahawks where he played over the next ten seasons. During that time he led the Seahawks to six playoff appearances and a Super Bowl appearance in 2005. In 2011 Hasselbeck joined the Tennesseee Titans but his tenure there was short-lived. He only remained there until 2012 before joining the Colts in 2013 for his last run in the league. That run lasted until 2015. Over the course of his time with those teams he threw a total of 36,638 yards, completing 60 percent of his passes with 212 touchdowns. A large majority of those numbers came during his 2007 season with Seattle. That season alone, he had 3,966 passing yards and 28 touchdowns. That same year he also led the Seahawks to the divisional playoffs and was named to his third and last Pro Bowl. He started his stint with the Colts in 2013 as a backup/mentor to then 1st Round pick Andrew Luck. But when Luck suffered a series of injuries in 2015 it was up to Hasselbeck to step up and take the reins. He went on to lead the team to a 5 – 3 record over the next eight games, winning his first four starts. That record put him in elite company, becoming only the third quarterback to have four consecutive wins after his 40th birthday. The other two QBs to do that were Warren Moon, and his former teammate Brett Favre. Hasselbeck’s 11 post season starts at QB ranks 16th all-time in NFL history. And it is just one of so many other records that he holds.
Having announced his retirement this week he won’t be out of the spotlight for long. Beginning this fall he will be part of ESPN’s NFL Countdown and Monday Night Countdown. In his announcement about his retirement Hasselbeck noted his love for the game of football and his respect for everyone that he came to know throughout his career. “As a kid, playing in the NFL was always my dream and it turned out to be way more fun than I could’ve ever imagined,” said Hasselbeck. “Throughout 18 incredible seasons, I had the chance to forge many relationships with teammates, coaches and staff that I will cherish forever. Those relationships made my playing career all the more memorable,” he said. He also noted the support of his family in his decision to join ESPN’s staff before again thanking everyone that gave him the chance to play in the NFL. He said of these topics, “With the support of my family, we’ve made the decision to embark on the next chapter. I’m extremely thankful for the opportunity to have represented the NFL and so many great teams.” He added in regards to joining ESPN, “The exceptional opportunity presented to me by ESPN accelerated my decision to retire from playing football. “I’m excited for the chance to give everything I have to this new endeavor and share the knowledge I have with our viewers.”
Hasselbeck is ESPN’s second major NFL talent acquisition for its studio shows this offseason. The network recently announced that it had also signed NFL great Charles Woodson for its Countdown shows. Markman noted Hasselbeck’s years of playing experience in the decision to bring him to its studio shows as well as his personality. He also noted that the network had been watching him for some time as a potential figure that the network could use for its NFL programming. “Matthew has been on our radar for many years and we expect him to have an immediate impact as he transitions from the playing field to a marquee analyst role on our signature NFL shows,” he said. “Matthew experienced it all in his 18 NFL seasons, he has terrific insights on the game and a great sense of humor, and we are particularly excited to pair him with Tim [Hasselbeck], who already does such excellent work for us.” Tim Hasselbeck is Matt Hasselback’s younger brother. He currently appears on ESPN’s NFL Live and has been working with ESPN as an NFL analyst since 2008.
More information on ESPN’s recent moves on its NFL programs is available online now along with all of the latest NFL headlines at:
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