Last month saw talk of Chris Berman doing more on ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown or even hosting some Sunday night episodes of SportsCenter, but while Berman will be increasing his contributions to ESPN’s NFL coverage this season, it sounds like that will be in a more limited fashion than had been discussed. Jimmy Traina of Sports Illustrated wrote Thursday that Berman will be “returning to SportsCenter in a new role carved out specifically for him,” but that for the moment, that role will only be a few segments on historic football rivalries:
The man known as “Boomer” will host a weekly three-to-four minute segment called, “Berman’s Blast,” in which he’ll recap and discuss historic NFL rivalries to coincide with a game that week. The segment, which will first air at 7 a.m. ET each Friday, will be repeated several times throughout the weekend on various editions of SportsCenter.
As of now, the segment will run for five weeks and will feature Packers-Bears in Week 1, Giants-Cowboys in Week 2, Dolphins-Raiders in Week 3, Chiefs-Broncos in Week 4 and Patriots-Colts in Week 5. Berman has some other commitments for the fall, including a trip to the Ryder Cup, so that’s why the initial run will only be five weeks, with the potential for more down the road.
Traina adds that Berman will again host NFL PrimeTime on the Sunday of the conference championship games and after the Super Bowl, provide his “Boomer’s Vault” segment for Monday Night Countdown, and contribute occasional features and interviews to Sunday NFL Countdown, but he won’t have an expanded role on Countdown for the time being. However, as Andrew Marchand of The New York Post noted, “Talks will continue, and it is still possible that Berman could have a bigger role again at some point in the future with ESPN.”
Given that the primary issue here seems to be more Berman’s scheduling commitments than ESPN’s interest in having him do more, it does seem quite possible that we could see him play an even bigger role at the network down the road. That would fit with the current ESPN emphasis on bringing back the old-style SportsCenter, and also perhaps with the network’s desire to improve its relationship with the NFL; Berman has long been a protector of that relationship.
But these short SportsCenter segments may actually work well as a way to test the waters, especially considering that those are of a length that’s easily shareable on social media. ESPN can track how much conversation they create and how much of it is positive, and that could help them get a better read on just how much of a desire there is out there for more Berman. We’ll see how this plays out, and just how much more Berman it leads to. For now, we know that we’ll be seeing these SportsCenter segments from him, for at least a few weeks.