Weekly Updates

MidWeek — September 8, 2011

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ESPN, NFL Reach Eight-Year Extension for Monday Night Football
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Monday Night Football, the most successful series in sports media history, will remain on ESPN through the 2021 NFL season under a new eight-year agreement between ESPN and the National Football League, it was announced today by ESPN and ABC Sports President George Bodenheimer and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell during a media conference call (replay; transcript). The broad multiplatform agreement, which begins in 2014, includes eight full seasons of MNF telecasts, expanded NFL studio programming (beginning this week), highlight rights for TV and ESPN.com, the Pro Bowl, the NFL Draft, 3D rights, and enhanced international rights. 



MNF Doubleheader – Patriots at Dolphins and Raiders at Broncos
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Monday Night Football will kick off its 42nd season with a doubleheader on Monday, Sept. 12 – New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins at 7 p.m. ET and Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos at 10:15 p.m. / 8:15 p.m. MT – on ESPN.  The first game will feature wide receiver Brandon Marshall and the Dolphins hosting divisional foe Tom Brady and the defending AFC East champion Patriots. The second game pits longtime AFC West rivals, the Denver Broncos hosting the Oakland Raiders, for an NFL-record 16th time on Monday Night Football.

Play-by-play commentator Mike Tirico and analysts Jon Gruden and Ron Jaworski, returning for their third season together, will call the Patriots-Dolphins game.  Brad Nessler and NFL studio analyst Trent Dilfer will call the Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos matchup.  ESPN Deportes will offer a Spanish-language production of both MNF games.  MNF “game around the game” content will be available throughout the day across ESPN’s multimedia platforms with reporters Wendi Nix (Miami) and Ed Werder (Denver).



ESPN’s Season-Opening Sunday NFL Countdown – Parcells Returns, New Time at 10 a.m.
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ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown Presented by IBM will preview the NFL season’s first weekend beginning Sunday, Sept. 11, at 10 a.m. with Chris Berman and analysts Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson, Keyshawn Johnson and Bill Parcells.  Sunday’s season opening program will mark the return of legendary NFL coach Parcells to Countdown and the debut of the show’s new 10 a.m. start time.  ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter will also join senior analyst Chris Mortensen to provide the day’s headlines and league news.

The three-hour program will feature six reporters at key NFL matchups: Bob Holtzman – Indianapolis at Houston; Rachel Nichols – Pittsburg at Baltimore; Josina Anderson will make her Countdown reporting debut from Atlanta at Chicago; Sal Paolantonio – Philadelphia at St. Louis; special 9/11 10th anniversary coverage by Jeremy Schaap and former Jets coach Herm Edwards at the New Meadowlands Stadium for Dallas at New York Jets; and Mark Schwarz covering New York Giants at Washington.  Edwards will reflect on his experience as the Jets head coach during the 9/11 terrorist attack.

Other highlights:

  • Tom Coughlin’s Son – A 9/11 Survivor:  reporter Rachel Nichols shares the story of a 9/11 survivor, Tim Coughlin, son of New York Giants head coach Coughlin, who was working as a bond trader on the 60th floor of the South Tower when the planes hit the Twin Towers.
  • Steeler-Ravens Rivalry:  in 18 games since 2003, the two teams are separated by seven points – Steelers have scored 333 points, Ravens 326.  Familiarity breeds contempt in this rivalry.  Greg Garber delves into one of the league’s top rivalries. 
  • Mayne Event – Lockout:  once negotiations to end the NFL lockout turned intense, Kenny Mayne disengaged from reporting on the process.  In the season-opening “Mayne Event,” the off-beat Mayne’s NFL lockout reports take him to places far removed from the negotiations – England, Ireland, Brazil and South Africa.
  • Sounds of the Off-Season:  DJ Steve Porter returns with a unique spin on the sound bites from the lockout, free agency, the 2011 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, and more. 



Special Two-Hour Monday Night Countdown at 5 p.m. Precedes MNF Doubleheader
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Leading into the season-opening MNF doubleheader, a special two-hour Monday Night Countdown Served by Applebee’s will include Berman, Carter, Jackson, Johnson, Mortensen, Parcells and Schefter in Bristol and Stuart Scott, Tedy Bruschi and Steve Young at Sun Life Stadium in Miami. 



NFL Matchup – Falcons Matt Ryan, Steelers Lawrence Timmons and Rob Ryan’s Blitz-happy Defense  
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NFL Matchup with host Sal Paolantonio and analysts Ron Jaworski and Merril Hoge will preview the NFL season-opening weekend.  Each NFL Sunday morning (ESPN – 3 a.m. and 7:30; ESPN2 – 8:30 a.m.), the trio will bring viewers inside the film room for the Xs and Os analysis of the matchups.  Highlights:

  • Jaws’ Playbook – Matt Ryan’s Pre-Snap:  as a seasoned quarterback, Atlanta’s Matt Ryan has developed the knowledge and confidence to control the pace of a game from the line of scrimmage.  Jaworski shows how Ryan uses a dummy cadence to expose the intention of a defensive unit.
  • Patriots Bunch vs. Dolphins Defense:  Jaworski explains how the Patriots repeatedly use the bunch concept to unravel the man-coverage, by the Dolphins defense.
  • Game Changer – Lawrence Timmons Sack vs. Ravens: Hoge illustrates how the Steelers designed and called blitz for Timmons that successfully led to a sack of the Ravens quarterback, a tell-tale indicator that the linebacker is a superstar in the making. 
  • Rob Ryan Blitz vs. Jets:  Hoge explains how past tendencies and habits of a coach are used in a game plan, showing how defensive coordinator Rob Ryan’s past blitz calls at Cleveland against the Jets will be repeated when the Cowboys play them.




Hey Rookie, Welcome to the NFL Part 1 and NFL’s Greatest Games: 2003 NFC Divisional Playoffs Green Bay at Philadelphia to Premiere on ESPN2
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Following the first weekend of NFL regular-season, ESPN2 will televise two NFL Films programs on Tuesday, Sept. 13:

  • Hey Rookie, Welcome to the NFL Part 1 at 8 p.m.
    Starting with the 2011 NFL Draft, watch as players strive to transition from the college game to the pros. This 60-minute show features Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (TCU), Bills defensive lineman Marcell Dareus (Alabama), Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson (LSU), running back Ryan Williams (Virginia Tech), Jets defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson (Temple) and Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara (Nebraska). 
  • NFL’s Greatest Games: 2003 NFC Divisional Playoffs Green Bay at Philadelphia at 9 p.m.
    Player interviews and play-by-play footage highlight the last one-minute-and-sixteen-seconds of regulation and the Eagles’ incredible drive that sent the game into overtime. 



Jamison Hensley Joins ESPN.com as AFC North Blogger
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On Thursday, September 15, Jamison Hensley will join ESPN.com as an AFC North blogger for its NFL Blog Network.  In this role, Hensley will cover the division with ESPN.com’s award-winning NFL editorial team.  With the addition of Hensley, current AFC North blogger James Walker will become ESPN.com’s AFC East blogger. He will be based in Miami.

Hensley most recently covered the Baltimore Ravens for the past 11 years for the Baltimore Sun.  He graduated from the University of Maryland and resides in the Baltimore area with his wife.


New Sunday Morning Line-Up
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A new Sunday morning news & information schedule beginning September 11 through the NFL season:

  • SportsCenter: 8-10 a.m. (two separate 60-minute shows) on ESPN Live
  • SportsCenter: 10-11 a.m. on ESPNEWS Live
  • Outside the Lines Weekend: 10 a.m. on ESPN2
  • Sports Reporters: 10:30 a.m. on ESPN2



College GameDay Headed to Ann Arbor for First-Ever Night Game
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ESPN College GameDay Built by The Home Depot returns to the University of Michigan’s campus after a four-year hiatus (Nov. 17, 2007) on Saturday, Sept. 10.  This will mark GameDay’s ninth visit to Ann Arbor with the set located at Ingalls Mall by the Burton Clock Tower.  The weekly show airs from 9-10 a.m. on ESPNU and 10 a.m.-noon on ESPN. 

The Michigan Wolverines will host the Notre Dame Fighting Irish later that night in the Big House’s first-ever night game (ESPN & ESPN3, at 8 p.m.).  Michigan standout receiver, Heisman trophy winner and GameDay analyst Desmond Howard, known for “the catch” made during the 1991 Michigan vs. Notre Dame game, will be honored during halftime for his recent induction to the College Football Hall of Fame.

Additional notes:

  • The Cheez-It Real FanCam debuted this past weekend to allow fans at home a close-up look at the crowd and fanfare of the live show each week.   
  • Two sign language interpreters will be on hand for the live GameDay telecast to aide fans who are hearing impaired. This is the second year GameDay has partnered with schools and surrounding areas to provide the service.



SNB: Cubs at Mets; Baseball Tonight to Televise Pregame 9/11 Ceremonies
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ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball will feature the New York Mets hosting the Chicago Cubs on September 11, at 8 p.m. ET. Dan Shulman will call the game with analysts Orel Hershiser and Bobby Valentine and reporters Buster Olney and Pedro Gomez.  Prior to the game, ESPN will televise Baseball Tonight: Citi Field Remembers 9/11 presented by Chevrolet at 7:30 p.m., a special edition of the show including pregame 9/11 ceremonies from the ballpark.  Baseball Tonight will also be televised on ESPN2 from 7-7:30 p.m. with the day’s MLB highlights, news and information.  Karl Ravech will anchor Baseball Tonight from the Bristol, Conn., studio with analysts John Kruk and Barry Larkin, while Bob Ley will host coverage from inside the ballpark with Valentine, who managed the Mets in 2001.


ESPN The Magazine Commemorates 10th Anniversary of 9/11
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Ten years have passed since 9/11, and how we cheer will never be the same. In the latest issue of ESPN The Magazine on newsstands Friday, September 9, readers are taken through an emotive journey of sports since 9/11 – what we remember and how we’ve changed.  Read more 



Sun Belt Conference and ESPN Expand Football Coverage in Multiyear Agreement; Additional Sport Exposure Included in Deal
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The Sun Belt Conference and ESPN announced a new agreement that extends the network’s relationship with the conference through the 2019-20 academic year. The agreement, which will take effect beginning in 2012, will expand the conference’s national television exposure and makes ESPN the exclusive national cable and satellite provider of the Sun Belt Conference.  Details:


  • A minimum of two football games on either ESPN or ESPN2.
  • Also a minimum of five games on ESPNU that will be scheduled for Thursday or Friday nights.
  • ESPN Regional Television (ERT) will have the right to produce, distribute and syndicate up to five football games each year.
  • ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU will also be granted additional opportunities, after the third Saturday of the season, to select games to air through a 12-day rolling window. 


  • ESPN will continue to air the men’s basketball championship game.
  • Teams will make a minimum of four appearances annually on ESPN or ESPN2 during the regular season.  Additionally, ERT maintains the right to produce, distribute and syndicate up to eight men’s basketball games annually.
  • Women’s basketball will be featured on ESPNU for the league championship game or one regular season game.

Additional Coverage

  • Opportunities exist for additional sport coverage and ESPN maintains first selection rights to all events.


  • ESPN3 will maintain the right to exclusively produce and distribute games of their choosing.
  • Any games that are produced locally (i.e. regional network or local station) may be aired on ESPN3 and ESPN FULL COURT or ESPN GamePlan.
  • ESPN3 will also be granted additional opportunities, after the third Saturday of the season, to select games to air through a 12-day rolling window. 



ESPN2 to Televise FIBA Americas Championship Gold Medal Game
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ESPN2 will provide live coverage of the FIBA Americas Championship gold medal game on Sunday, Sept. 11, at 8 p.m. followed by the bronze medal game (midnight ET).  Additional coverage will include two tournament semifinals games earlier that day at 3 a.m. and 5 a.m.  Sean Grande and analyst Fran Fraschilla will provide commentary for all four telecasts.  ESPN3 will have exclusive live coverage of all the games.  The remaining schedule for the FIBA Americas Championship and the FIBA European Basketball Championship (EuroBasket) is available at watchespn.com.  Additional details.



ESPN Radio: The Herd & Scott Van Pelt Shows to be Simulcast on ESPNEWS
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ESPN Radio’s The Herd with Colin Cowherd (10 a.m.-1 p.m.) and The Scott Van Pelt Show (the first two hours of the 1-4 p.m. broadcast) will be simulcast on ESPNEWS beginning Monday, Sept. 12. The Herd, available on 383 ESPN Radio stations nationwide, is currently simulcast on ESPNU, while The Scott Van Pelt Show, on 363 stations, is seen on ESPN2.



NASCAR Now Weekend Wrap-up Program Begins after Richmond Race
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The weekend wrap-up edition of ESPN2’s NASCAR Now will return to lead into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup on Saturday, Sept. 10, at 11 p.m. following ABC’s live telecast from Richmond International Raceway, the final race before the start of the Chase. NASCAR Now’s weekend program will air on Sunday nights after the nine Sunday afternoon races and on Saturday night after the race at Charlotte.



Walker Cup Golf on ESPN2, ESPN3
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The top amateur golfers from the U.S. will square off against their counterparts from England and Ireland in the Walker Cup on Saturday, Sept. 10, and Sunday, Sept. 11, at Scotland’s Royal Aberdeen Golf Club. ESPN2 will air two hours of highlights from the second day Sunday at 3 p.m.  Live bonus coverage will air on ESPN3 Saturday at 6:15 a.m. (foursomes) and 10:40 a.m. (singles) and Sunday at 5:30 a.m. (foursomes) and 10:15 a.m. (singles).  Among the U.S. players: Peter Uihlein, whose 4-0-0 record helped the U.S. team win the biennial event for the third straight time in 2009 and Patrick Cantlay, who set a PGA Tour record for an amateur earlier this year with a score of 60.  



ESPN2 to Televise Reebok CrossFit Games
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ESPN2 will televise the Reebok CrossFit Games – a vigorous, multi-event athletic competition in which elite male and female athletes compete in various physical challenges to determine the world’s fittest athletes – in 12 primetime telecast windows on Wednesdays in September, starting September 14, at 8 p.m. with four 30-minute episodes.  The CrossFit Games were simulcast live via ESPN3 in July.  



ESPN High School Football Showcase Game Features Interstate Matchup
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The 2011 GEICO ESPN High School Football Showcase continues this week with an interstate contest between Yulee (Fla.) and visiting Buford (Ga.).  The game will kick off Friday, Sept. 9, at 8:30 p.m. on ESPNU with Justin Kutcher calling the action and Tom Luginbill providing analysis.  Buford is the defending state champion.  For more information as well as the POWERADE FAB 50 rankings, visit espnhighschool.com.