After a year away from the NFL, Chris Berman says he could see himself hosting a show again.
In January 2017, Chris Berman left NFL Sunday Countdown, which he hosted for 31 seasons on ESPN.
Does he think he may want back in after being away from it for a year? Would he leave ESPN to host an NFL show?
He answered this question and much more on the latest edition of the SI Media Podcast.
"Well to do football – really to be anywhere else, if you’ve read my bio, which has been the same quote for a long time, I would like to retire with the team I came in with," he told host Jimmy Traina. "I’d like to be Cal Ripken or Walter Payton. It’s in my bio. I’ve said that for 20 years. So I have a rare opportunity. I couldn’t see doing it anywhere else. I could see doing it, but nowhere else."
Here is the full exchange from the podcast:
TRAINA: We’re still in early July, so we don’t have that taste of NFL quite yet in our mouths. I think in another three, four weeks we’ll have it, camps will be open. Do you think you’re going to have that same feeling? Do you think there could be an itch there? I know you have that contract with ESPN in the emeritus role, but is it something you could see yourself maybe trying to get back into, or do you seem content with not being in the grind, as you say?
BERMAN: Well, I mean, I could see doing it, but I experience other things in life – and of course we had a tragedy last year, too, so that was not the most important adjustment I was going to make. My wife, Kathy, passed in a car crash on May 9, so that was an adjustment too, professionally. Sorry for me to take each one in an individual test tube. But to answer your specific question, I’m still going to hit a couple training camps, still going to be in touch. ... I think I’m going to go see the Ryder Cup in Paris. I speak French, I’m a big golf fan, and that’s Week 4 of football. Well, not saying I prefer that -- like ‘what would you rather do’ -- but, you have this time. Go do it. So there’s other things. I’m 63, so that’s OK I’m not idle. I don’t sit wistfully and wish I was still doing it in that way, but there’s a part of me that says this is still kind of an out of body experience. You're watching the show you used to do, that was invented on ESPN… You know, because of all the adjustment last year, Year 2 will be another observation for me. I don’t know how I’m going to feel, but I’m OK with it. I’m at peace with all of it.
JT: I thought when they moved you to that new role -- and I don’t want to put you in a tough spot, you can answer it, not answer it -- but I thought it was interesting because, like you said, you are only 63 years old. Marv Albert is doing games at 75 and here in New York, we have John Sterling, who just turned 80, so 63 is not old in broadcasting terms. Now, the business, of course, is younger, younger, younger. And what’s interesting about it is ESPN revamped the pregame show and went with a younger cast and the ratings were not nearly as good as they were with you and Tom Jackson, etc. So it’s interesting how television sort of works. And the reason I bring it up is because you’re only 63 and you’ll always be known as 'The ESPN Guy,' but with so many outlets now doing NFL -- you have the NFL network, for instance. I think there were rumblings of you going there at one point years ago. But Fox has it CBS has it NBC has it. It’s not like there aren’t opportunities there if you ever decide you wanted to get back into it.
CB: Well, to do football -- really to be anywhere else -- if you’ve read my bio, which has been the same quote for a long time, 'I would like to retire with the team I came in with. I’d like to be Cal Ripken or Walter Payton.' It’s in my bio. I’ve said that for 20 years. So I have a rare opportunity. I couldn’t see doing it anywhere else. I could see doing it, but nowhere else. And you know, look, these guys on the show -- and the ladies -- and certainly everyone behind the scenes, I’m quite in touch with our producers, so I give, not so much pointers -- ‘hey, here’s how I see it, here’s what I would do’ -- and this and that. Not overly much, but I’m still very close. I root for nothing but success for "Countdown." These are my guys. These are my teammates. Everyone on there, all the analysts -- other than Rex [Ryan], Randy Moss is going in the Hall of Fame, Charles Woodson, Matt Hasselbeck -- they were all new my final year. I feel like it’s family and always will be, so you don’t root against family. You just don’t do it.
On the podcast, Berman also talked about the legacy of "NFL Primetime," which he co-hosted with Tom Jackson from 1987 to 2006. Berman touched on what it was like to lose that show when NBC got "Sunday Night Football" and discussed whether it could still work today.
The man known as "Boomer," also told a story about being told he was banned from using his famous nicknames on "SportsCenter" by a producer in 1985, revealed why he'd never join Twitter and addressed the various criticisms he's received throughout his career.
JT: You did have -- you do have -- your share of critics, like every public figure, everybody in television, especially in sports. Everybody has opinions about announcers. Do you ever pay attention to the critics? Do you care about the critics? How do you deal with that?
CB: Well, a lot of the recent critics never saw where I came from, meaning this is what he’s always done. Do I care about them? In some way, because if the criticism is valid, you know what? You’re right. I’m too loud too often, or whatever. But, 'he’s doing the same shtick,' well, no, not really. There’s different games, there’s different players. I’m going doing it the way I would hope anyone would go about their job, whether they’re a bricklayer or a sportscaster, the best way that I know how. And I feel that I spoke to a generation or two. Oh, by the way, I get stopped by 12-year-olds all the time, because enthusiasm I think is infectious, whether you're laying a brick or doing a [sportscast]. From what I can tell from the daily walk of life, the critics would seem to be a loud noise, although that’s old news now. It’s much more of a minority than it’s led to believe, at least by people stopping me. But again, you don’t like it, you can turn the channel. It’s OK. You don’t expect everybody to buy a red car as opposed to a blue one.
JT: There’s also a difference between the Internet critics and the real-life critics. I had Scott Van Pelt on a podcast several months ago and he brought up how no one has ever come up to him and been anything but nice. But on Twitter, or on the Internet, he’ll take some heat. And Scott’s a pretty neutral guy. So I think by you not being on Twitter and the Internet, I think every sportscaster should follow that creed because it puts out a lot of the noise that’s not really valid.
CB: I remember Joe Torre told me a long time ago, 'I don’t read the paper.' Now, he was aware. Joe [is a] pretty smart guy now. Managing in New York, you have to be different. Yes, they won, but just to survive. Heaven forbid the Yankees lose three games in a row in May because the bullpen moves you make and all of a sudden you forgot how to manage.
JT: First day here in New York the back page of the "Daily News" said "Clueless Joe." That worked out OK.
CB: Yeah, and how did they do now that he’s gone, right? So, I don’t poo-poo it , but as long as any of us do the job to the best of our ability. When a critic -- and there weren’t very many -- said "boy he’s unprepared.” Whoa, whoa, whoa, woooaahhh, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. “I don’t like the nicknames.” Fine. “He’s too loud.” Fine. “He makes it about himself.” False, but if you want to write that, fine. But you didn’t see me in the 80s and the 90s every night to know that I’m at least true to myself. It’s like if you met me on the street, [and] probably on the air, it’d sound like we’ve been for the last 40 minutes. So I’m not smart enough to be an actor. But if everyone says, “he’s unprepared, he’s out of touch” – do you know who I talk to during the week? Don’t be writing that. And there hasn’t been a lot of that. People are smart enough for that.
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