ESPN Makes Big Plays With Its NFL On-Air Staff

San Francisco, CA - February 7, 2016 - Marina Green: Mike Ditka (l) and Chris Berman on the set of Postseason NFL Countdown during coverage for Super Bowl 50 (Photo by Peter DaSilva / ESPN Images)

San Francisco, CA – February 7, 2016 – Marina Green: Mike Ditka (l) and Chris Berman on the set of Postseason NFL Countdown during coverage for Super Bowl 50
(Photo by Peter DaSilva / ESPN Images)

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.

 

Indianapolis, IN - September 15, 2014 - Lucas Oil Stadium: Matt Hasselbeck (8) of the Indianapolis Colts during a regular season Monday Night Football game (Photo by Allen Kee / ESPN Images)

Indianapolis, IN – September 15, 2014 – Lucas Oil Stadium: Matt Hasselbeck (8) of the Indianapolis Colts during a regular season Monday Night Football game
(Photo by Allen Kee / ESPN Images)

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:

 

Website: http://espn.go.com/nfl

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/NFLonESPN

 

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

30 For 30: The ’85 Bears Premieres Thursday Night On ESPN

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN will debut the latest chapter in its award-winning film series 30 For 30 this week.
30 For 30: The ’85 Bears will debut Thursday night on ESPN. It will air at 9pm ET on ESPN. Directed by Emmy Award-winning director Jason Hehir (Bernie and Ernie, The Fab Five, Jose Canseco: Last Shot) the program follows the 1985 Chicago Bears squad. the team went nearly undefeated on its way to Super Bowl XX and an NFL championship. The whole thing started with a letter penned by the team’s defensive captains Gary Fencik and Alan Page to then 86-year old team owner George Halas. That team included the likes of William “The Refrigerator” Perry, Jim McMahon, Walter Peyton, and Mike Singletary among others. Of course the one and only Mike Ditka was at the helm when the team won it all.

Hehir shows through his lens a team that no one thought would ever make it to the Super Bowl yet whose differences brought them together and made the team in whole stronger. That strength led them to form a team that came together at just the right time and defied all the expectations of those around the league from players to fans alike. Audiences can check out a trailer for this latest installment of 30 For 30 online now at http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=14503626. More information on this and other films in ESPN’s 30 For 30 series is availabel online now at:

Website: http://espn.go.com/espn/espnfilms

http://www.espn.com/30for30

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/espn30for30

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

ESPN Ends MNF’s 2015 Season With Major AFC Matchup

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN closes out another season of Monday Night Football next week with one of the year’s biggest matchups.

Cincinnati and Denver will face off in an AFC conference matchup with major playoff implications for both teams. Both teams sit in first place in their respective divisions (Cincinnati in the AFC North and Denver in the AFC West) and have plenty to play for. That is because a win for either team means a first round bye for the victor. This is not the first time that the AFC opponents have closed out ESPN’s MNF season. They also served as the season finale for the broadcast’s season finale in 2014. The Bengals won that game 37 – 28 over Denver. It was one of the rare times, too when Cincinnati actually held its own under the lights. That will be a definite factor for Cincinnati again this year considering the team’s overall record under the lights.

AJ McCarron will lead the Bengals into Mile High Stadium this year as starter Andy Dalton’s fractured thumb continues to heal. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:15pm ET. Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden will have the call for Monday night’s game. Lisa Salters will also be on hand for additional commentary and reports throughout the game. Monday Night Countdown will air ahead of Monday night’s broadcast. Suzy Kolber and Chris Berman will once again co-host the weekly pre-game broadcast. Berman will be live in ESPN’s studios alongside Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson, Keyshawn Johnson, and Cris Carter. ESPN Insiders Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter will also be on hand for additional commentary. Suzy Kolber will be live from Mile High Stadium. She will be joined by Trent Dilfer, Ray Lewis, and Steve Young.

Monday Night Football will simulcast on ESPN Deportes on television for ESPN’s Spanish-speaking audiences. More information on Monday night’s matchup is available online now along with all of the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at:

Website: http://espn.go.com/nfl

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MNF

 

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

ESPN Closes Out Week 15 In The NFL With NFC Inter-Divisional Showdown

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

Next Monday night, ESPN will close out Week 15 in the NFL with an NFC inter-divisional match-up between Detroit and New Orleans.

Next Monday night’s edition of ESPN’s Monday Night Football comes across as a sleeper match on the surface. That is because because both teams currently sit in the basement of their respective divisions. New Orleans sits at 5 – 8 so far on the season and has gone 1 – 4 in their last five games, with the lone win in that span coming last week against Tampa Bay 24 – 17. Before that, the Saints had been in the midst of a three-game losing streak. A win for New Orleans on Monday night would move New Orleans one step closer to finishing the season at .500. And it could make all the difference on head coach Sean Payton’s future at the helm for the Saints. His name has been tossed around for the better part of the season every time that coaching rumors have come up. The Saints are pretty much out of the playoff picture. So a .500 season for the team would be all important for the 2009 Super Bowl Champions. It could very well play a role in whether Payton stays or goes and on the fate of his coaching staff and look on both sides of the ball in the 2016 season.

On the other side of the ball Detroit is also out of the playoff picture as it sits at 4 – 9 on the season. The Lions are last in the NFC North and are in the midst of a two-game skid. This means that the team, which will be on the road against New Orleans Monday night, has nothing to lose and everything to gain. That in turn means that the team could be extra motivated when it goes toe to toe against the Saints in the Superdome Monday night. And that could make things very interesting to watch regardless of whether or not fans have allegiance to either team. Kickoff for Monday night’s game is scheduled for 8:15pm ET.

Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden will be in the booth for Monday’s game. Lisa Salters will also be on hand for additional commentary and news throughout the game. Ahead of Monday night’s kickoff, Chris Berman and Suzy Kolber will co-host ESPN’s weekly NFL pre-game show Monday Night Countdown. Berman will host live from ESPN’s studios alongside Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson, and Keyshawn Johnson. Suzy Kolber will be live on hand in New Orleans. She will be joined by Ray Lewis, Steve Young, and Trent Dilfer. Monday Night Football simulcasts each week on ESPN Deportes for the network’s Spanish-speaking audiences and online via WatchESPN for those that won’t be near a TV during the game. More information on ESPN’s Monday Night Football is available online along with all of the latest NFL headlines at:

Website: http://espn.go.com/nfl

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MNF

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

ESPN Rounds Out Week 14 In The NFL With Inter-Conference Matchup

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

Next Monday night on ESPN, the Dolphins and Giants round out Week 14 in the NFL in a game with potential playoff implications for both teams.

Miami and New York will face off under the lights next Monday night on ESPN’s Monday Night Football in a game with potential playoff implications for both teams. That is because as of right now, both teams are at least in the hunt for playoff spots. If the season were to end this week, Miami would be the 11th seed in the AFC while the “G-Men” would be the 10th seed in the NFC. Counting this coming weekend, there are still four weeks left in the regular season. So there is still plenty of time for things to change in both conferences. That means that while odds are still very slim for either team right now, there’s still no telling what the playoff picture will look like come January 9th and 10th.

Currently, the Giants are in a three-way tie with the Redskins and Eagles for the NFC East crown with all three teams sitting at the 5 – 7 mark. Meanwhile Miami, which also sits at 5 – 7, is in the basement in the AFC East. The Dolphins play host to the Giants next Monday night on Monday Night Football. They are 2 – 3 at home so far this season. New York isn’t much better, sitting at 2 – 4 so far this season on the road. What’s more New York is currently in the midst of a three-game losing streak which has seen the Giants go 1 – 4 in their last five games. Miami meanwhile has gone 2 – 3 in its last five games with its last win coming last week against Baltimore 15 – 13. Kickoff for Monday’s game is scheduled for 8:15pm ET. Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden will be in the booth for the call Monday night. Lisa Salters will be on hand for additional commentary and all of the latest headlines throughout the game. Along with its broadcast on ESPN, the game will also be simulcast online via WatchESPN and via ESPN Deportes for the network’s Spanish-speaking audiences.

Ahead of Monday night’s broadcast, Chris Berman and Suzy Kolber will co-host ESPN’s weekly NFL pre-game show Monday Night Countdown. Berman will be live from ESPN’s studios alongside Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson, Keyshawn Johnson, and Cris Carter. Also joining them will be ESPN Insiders Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter with a look back at all of Sunday’s games and a look ahead to Monday night’s inter-conference match-up. Suzy Kolber will be live on site from Sun Life Stadium alongside Steve Young, Ray Lewis, and Trent Dilfer.  More information on next Monday night’s inter-conference match-up between the Dolphins and Giants is available online now along with all of the latest NFL headlines at:

 

Website: http://espn.go.com/nfl

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MNF

 

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Washington, Dallas Close Out Week 13 In The NFL Monday Night

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

Next Monday night in the NFL, it’s going to be another battle of first versus the worst in The NFC North.

Week 13 in the NFL closes out Monday night live from FedEx Field as Kirk Cousins and company host the Dallas Cowboys. This week’s match between the NFC North opponents could very well have playoff implications for Washington. That is because if the playoffs were to start now, Washington would actually see itself facing off in an NFC wildcard matchup against Green Bay. That means that a loss to Dallas Monday night could be just as bad for the team as a win against “The Boys.” Currently Washington leads the NFC North at 5 – 6 while Dallas, who just lost Tony Romo for the rest of the season, sits in the basement in that division at 3 – 8. Washington is 5 – 1 at home so far this season although the team has gone 3 – 2 in its last five games.   One of those two wins came last week against another NFC North foe, the New York Giants. Washington won that game 20 – 14 tying the two teams at 5 – 6. Dallas on the other hand is 2 – 3 on the road and is looking to bounce back from last Thursday’s tough loss to Carolina. That game also saw Dallas lose quarterback Tony Romo for the remainder of the season due to injury. The loss dropped Dallas to a 1 – 4 record in its last five games. While the game’s outcome will have no impact on the Cowboys’ playoff chances, a win combined with a Giants win against the J-E-T-S Jets, Jets, Jets could have major implications for Washington’s chances of keeping its playoff hopes alive. So next Monday’s match-up between Dallas and Washington will be well worth the watch. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:15pm ET. The game will be simulcast on ESPN Deportes for ESPN’s Spanish-speaking audiences and online via WatchESPN for those that won’t be near a TV during the game.

Ahead of Monday night’s match-up at FedEx Field, Chris Berman and Suzy Kolber will co-host ESPN’s weekly NFL pre-game broadcast of Monday Night Countdown beginning at 6pm ET. Kolber will be live from FedEx Field alongside Trent Dilfer, Steve Young, and Ray Lewis while Berman will be live from ESPN’s studios alongside NFL Analysts Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson, and Keyshawn Johnson. ESPN NFL Insiders Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter will also be on hand to review Sunday’s NFL slate and to preview Monday night’s game. Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden will have the call for Monday’s game.  Lisa Salters will be on hand for additional commentary and reports throughout the game. More information on Monday night’s game is available online now along with all of the latest NFL headlines at:

 

Website: http://espn.go.com/nfl

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MNF

 

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com

ESPN Rounds Out Week 12 In The NFL With AFC North Showdown

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

Cleveland and Balmtimre are going under the lights next week on ESPN’s Monday Night Football.

Next Monday night, ESPN will finish off Week 12 in the NFL with an AFC North match-up between the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns. Both teams have struggled all season with the Ravens currently sitting at 3 – 7 so far on the season and Cleveland at 2 – 8. Cleveland is currently in the midst of a five-game losing streak while the Ravens, (2 – 3 in their last five games) will be looking to actually start a streak having defeated the Rams 16 – 13 in Week 11. Monday’s game will be especially interesting for both teams considering the teams’ home and road records. The Ravens are 1 – 4 on the road while Cleveland, who plays host Monday night, is 1 – 3 at home.

Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden will be in the booth for Monday night’s game. Lisa Salters will also be on hand for additional commentary and reports throughout the game. Ahead of Monday night’s broadcast, Suzy Kolber and Chris Berman will co-host Monday Night Countdown beginning at 6pm ET. Berman will be live in ESPN’s studios alongside ESPN NFL analysts Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson, and Keyshawn Johnson. ESPN NFL Insiders Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter will also be on hand to review Sunday’s full slate of games and Monday night’s AFC North match-up. Suzy Kolber will host live from FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland. She will be joined on-site by Trent Dilfer, Ray Lewis, and Steve Young.

Kickoff for Monday night’s game is scheduled for 8pm ET. The game will be simulcast on ESPN Deportes for ESPN’s Spanish-speaking audiences and online via WatchESPN for those that won’t be near a TV Monday night. More information on next week’s edition of Monday Night Football is available online now at:

Website: http://espn.go.com/NFL

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MNF

 

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.