This will be Chris Berman’s last season as the face of ESPN’s NFL coverage. At least that’s one thing that most reports seem to agree on. What remains to be seen is what happens to Berman after the 2016 NFL season is complete. Will he retire completely from broadcasting? Will he look to continue full-time work at another network? Or will he be content taking on more of a ceremonial role at ESPN?
The one man who knows more about ESPN than anyone walking planet earth is New York Times best-selling author Jim Miller. On the Dan Patrick Show yesterday, Miller talked about what’s next for Berman:
“It’s clear that he’s going to be changing roles, there’s no doubt about it. He’s going to ride out this football season but I think that given his contract is up sometime I believe later this year and it’s time. It seems like we’ve been talking about Berman’s future since the dawn of man and I think we’re finally at the point now where it’s going to be reconfigured. I think he’s too big a personality in ESPN history to just vote him off the island and hit the delete key and I don’t think that’s his wishes anyway so I think they’re probably going to try to carve out an emeritus role with some functions around that.”
Imagine Chris Berman working for a network besides ESPN – like Fox Sports or CBS or NBC or even NFL Network…
You can’t do it!
You just can’t imagine Boomer working at any other network aside from ESPN and none of ESPN’s competitors that televise the NFL seem like a good fit for his style and humongous personality. Is NBC going to kick aside Dan Patrick? What about Fox and Curt Menefee? Is CBS going to ask James Brown to step aside? Or NFL Network and Rich Eisen? None of those people are going to want to play second fiddle to Chris Berman and Berman isn’t going to want to play second fiddle to them.
So if we establish that Berman going elsewhere isn’t really a realistic scenario, and ESPN wants to move on from him as the star of its NFL programming, this kind of emeritus role is really the only option remaining unless Berman wants to ride off into the sunset completely.
No matter what you think of Berman and his broadcasting abilities these days, he’s meant too much to ESPN (and vice versa) over the last 35+ years to “vote him off the island and hit the delete key” as Miller said. If he’s replaced by Trey Wingo (or someone else) with his array of NFL hosting duties, then it’s easy to see him providing a few special items throughout the year. An emeritus role could look something like this…
– Berman does The Swami throughout the NFL season.
– He provides the voiceover for a video package each week for Sunday NFL Countdown.
– He hosts coverage of the Home Run Derby and the NFL Draft but isn’t the main anchor – think of Bob Costas’ role on Sunday Night Football.
– And maybe Berman could even do an episode of SportsCenter just for old time’s sake.
For everyone involved, this makes the most sense. Berman gets to have his presence at ESPN, ESPN gets to celebrate his history at the network, and viewers get to largely move on to a new era of ESPN NFL programming. Win-win-win. As we all know, that’s always the best option.