ESPN reportedly working on bringing Chris Berman back for expanded role this NFL season.
1. The New York Post's Andrew Marchand (who will be on the SI Media Podcast, out later this afternoon) reports that ESPN and Chris Berman are in talks to expand the veteran broadcaster's role at the network.
Marchand says the two sides haven't struck a deal yet and Berman wouldn't return on a full-time basis, but he would appear more often on SportsCenter and Sunday NFL Countdown, which saw a big ratings drop last year after Berman left and two years after Tom Jackson left.
According to Marchand, the possiblity of having Berman back has to do with ESPN's new management.
If you listened to Berman on the SI Media Podcast last month and read between the lines, it was fairly obvious, he still wanted to work and still wanted to be part of NFL coverage.
Here's what he told me when I asked if he'd ever come back:
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.
Berman also said on the podcast he'd never leave ESPN:
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.
Pro Football Talk's Michael David Smith made an excellent point on Twitter after the news broke Thursday.
Chris Berman might have the biggest spread between social media popularity and real-world popularity of anyone in sports. Write about Berman and all the feedback you get is negative. Talk to the average sports fan who's not on social media, they love him. https://t.co/HKgs8SWiAx— Michael David Smith (@MichaelDavSmith) August 16, 2018
Interestingly, Berman, who is not on Twitter and told me he'd never be on Twitter, is very aware of all the specific criticism he gets from social media and addressed it during his SI Media Podcast.
Personally, I've always been a Berman fan and I've always enjoyed the schtick. I've never found Berman anything but entertaining. (Keep in mind, I'd rather get hit by a bus going 100 mph than watch the Home Run Derby, so maybe that's why I feel this way.) There's also a certain comfort with Berman, who has been on our televisions forever, so I'm strongly in the camp that hopes ESPN and Berman can work out a new deal.
2. Speaking of the SI Media Podcast, WWE superstar Seth Rollins was kind enough to be on this week. However, I ran into the dreaded "technical difficulties" problem and the audio quality was unsatisfactory, so I had to transcribe the interview for your reading pleasure. Rollins explained why he's against a possible Roman Reigns vs. The Rock match at WrestleMania, talked about Brock Lesnar's light schedule and his lack of passion for the business, previewed his SummerSlam match against Dolph Ziggler on Sunday and revealed the top unwritten rule for WWE superstars.
3. J.J. Watt is showing off his scar after breaking his leg in a new ad and it's nasty.
4. Andrew McCutchen hilariously broke down the Giants-Dodgers brawl from Tuesday night. Clearly, he has a future as an analyst.
5. My colleague Dan Gartland handled the Ronald Acuña Jr.-Jose Ureña-Keith Hernandez bruhaha in today's Hot Clicks, so I'm not going to get into a whole big thing about it, but I just have one thing to say: I've never understood what hitting a guy in retaliation for said guy being hot at the plate does. Will Acuña now be a crappy hitter because he got plunked? Will Acuña now be so afraid to face Marlins pitching that he will never get a hit off them ever again? What exactly does hitting the guy accomplish?
6. I've never had a Body Armor drink, but clearly the Mamba Mentality when it comes to business is working for Kobe Bryant.
7. RIP to the Queen of Soul.
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IN CLOSING: Now the Browns may make Baker Mayfield a third-string QB? Just start the guy and stop wasting time.