The Sports Business Journal has a lengthy piece on the transformation at Sunday NFL Countdown with new, younger ex-players like Matt Hasselbeck, Charles Woodson, and Randy Moss coming in for Mike Ditka, Cris Carter, and Keyshawn Johnson.  However, the most interesting piece of news comes way at the end regarding NFL Countdown’s remaining elder statesman, Chris Berman.

Berman’s future has been a hot-button discussion item throughout the NFL offseason and there’s a wide expectation that this could very well be his last season with a full-time NFL schedule for ESPN.  Nevertheless, ESPN’s senior coordinating producer for the NFL, Seth Markman, says that there haven’t been any decisions made about Berman’s Bristol future:

As for Berman, his contract ends after this season and rumors have circulated that he’s preparing to step away from the host’s chair into more of an emeritus role on the show.

“There have not been any decisions made about Berman [beyond this season],” Markman said. “I look at it as this year, and he’s our guy. He’s our quarterback. If any decisions come down the road, we’ll address it then. But I’ve been completely focused on getting this group together and having the best season as possible.”

While there have been rumors that he might leave the network entirely after this year, an emeritus role has always made the most sense for him at ESPN.  It’s just impossible to imagine Berman at any other network.  As this youth movement takes place at ESPN, it would be a way for Bristol to keep him around and for Berman to still contribute without retiring completely like his former cohort Tom Jackson.

Reading the tea leaves here, it sounds like ESPN wants to get through this NFL season, especially with so many new faces on board, without Berman’s future becoming a distraction.  And yet, the longer we go without knowing for sure what’s going to happen, the more questions will likely arise. It’s very difficult for those questions not to be asked considering that pretty much everyone but Berman has been replaced on NFL Countdown during ESPN’s youth movement.

[SBJ]

About Matt Yoder

Award winning sportswriter at The Comeback and Awful Announcing. The biggest cat in the whole wide world.

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