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ESPN NFL Programming Update


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ESPN Doubleheader Kicks Off 43rd Season of Monday Night Football 
The 43rd season of Monday Night Football will kick off September 10, at 7 p.m. ET, with two divisional games. In the opener, Ray Lewis and the Baltimore Ravens will host Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals. Both AFC North rivals are coming off playoff appearances in 2011. Play-by-play commentator Mike Tirico and analyst Jon Gruden will call the game with new MNF reporter Lisa Salters. 

Jon Gruden on what it will be like to call Monday’s game with his brother Jay (Bengals’ offensive coordinator) on the sidelines:
“It’ll be weird, you know. It’ll be weird from the standpoint that obviously your brother’s down there calling plays. I saw Jeff Van Gundy call several NBA games where his brother [Stan] was coaching the Orlando Magic in the NBA Finals. You know, John Harbaugh coached against Jim Harbaugh. These things happen. Obviously when family members are members of the same business, sometimes paths cross. But I’m obviously very close to my brother and very excited about his future, and I want to see him do well. At the same time, I’ve got to be professional. I’ve got to do the job that I’ve been asked to do. It’s not as easy for me as it probably is for others, so I’ve got to – I’ve got to really concentrate on what I’m doing.”

The second game features an AFC West battle between Carson Palmer and the Oakland Raiders versus Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers. Chris Berman and Trent Dilfer will call the game at 10:15 p.m. with sideline reporter Rachel Nichols.  

Fans who receive their video subscription from an affiliated provider can see game action on computers at and on tablets via the WatchESPN app. Both MNF productions will also be available on ESPN Deportes.

Note: ESPN plans to carry the Baltimore Ravens’ tribute to owner Art Modell on Monday night. Modell’s passing will also be discussed on the Monday Night Countdown pregame show. ESPN President John Skipper issued the following statement earlier today:

“Art Modell was a leader and a visionary who helped guide the National Football League on its incredible path of success, particularly in the area of television. A leading figure behind the landmark agreement that created Monday Night Football on ABC in 1970, Modell was truly ahead of his time. His influence on the game will continue to be felt by generations of fans. We extend our condolences to the entire Modell family and we plan to appropriately honor him during our Monday Night Football opener in Baltimore this week.”


Season-Opening Sunday NFL Countdown – Ron Jaworski Returns, Kenny’s “Mayne Event”, and Other Highlights

ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown Presented by IBM will preview the 2012 NFL season’s first weekend beginning Sunday, Sept. 9, at 10 a.m. with Chris Berman and analysts Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson and Keyshawn Johnson on the main set, and Suzy Kolber, Merril Hoge and Ron Jaworski on the second set.  Sunday’s program will mark the return of Jaworski to a studio role, where he excelled before spending the last five years on MNF.  ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter will also join senior analyst Chris Mortensen to provide the day’s headlines and league news.

Five correspondents will report from key NFL matchups: Ed Werder – Washington at New Orleans; Sal Paolantonio – Buffalo Bills at New York Jets; Bob Holtzman – Indianapolis at Chicago; Colleen Dominguez – San Francisco at Green Bay; and Josina Anderson – Pittsburgh at Denver.  Other highlights:

  • Kyle Williams Moving Forward: After two NFC Championship fumbles by Kyle Williams cost the 49ers a trip to the Super Bowl, the wide receiver was stunned by death threats he received via Twitter.  But a heartfelt letter from a seven-year-old fan gave the 24 year-old wide receiver a new perspective moving forward. Keyshawn Johnson interviews Williams.
  • Quarterbacking Legends on Moving On: After 14 exceptional seasons and a neck injury that forced then Colts quarterback Peyton Manning to miss the entire 2011 season, the Colts finished with the worst record and were awarded the first pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.  The team decided to release Manning and drafted Andrew Luck with the No. 1 pick.  Three legendary quarterbacks with similar stories – Joe Namath, Brett Favre and Joe Montana – sat down for interviews with Ed Werder to share their experiences and provide insight on some things Manning may go through as he begins his time with the Broncos.
  • Mayne Event – Eli in Albany:  Despite two Super Bowl victories in the past five years, Giants quarterback Eli Manning isn’t even the most popular quarterback in the city of New York, thanks to the celebrity of Jets quarterback tandem – Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow. In his tongue-in-cheek recurring segment, Kenny Mayne visits the Giants training camp in Albany, N.Y., to explore Manning’s popularity, or the lack thereof, in the upstate New York town.
  • Sounds of the Offseason:  DJ Steve Porter returns with a unique, musical spin on the best sound bites from the NFL offseason.
  • Ron Jaworski’s Eye in The Sky:  The former Eagles quarterback, who’s adept at breaking down game film to show teams’ tendencies, debuts with an in-depth look at the five rookie starting quarterbacks – Robert Griffin III (Redskins), Andrew Luck (Colts), Ryan Tannehill (Dolphins), Brandon Weeden (Browns) and Russell Wilson (Seahawks).


Snickers NFL Matchup – Andrew Luck; 49ers Wheel Route; Broncos Offense in Coaches Clicker; and more

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 – 3:30 a.m., and ESPN2 – 8:30 a.m.), the trio will take viewers inside the film room with X’s and O’s analysis of the weekend’s key matchups.  Highlights:

  • Jaws’ Playbook – Andrew Luck: Jaworski analyzes one specific attribute that’ll lead to Luck’s long-term success as Colts quarterback – his ability to move comfortably in the pocket while working through his progression.
  • X and O Files – 49ers Wheel Route: Jaworski shows how the 49ers used the “wheel route” successfully against the Cowboys and projects that the 49ers will use a similar concept in week one to expose Green Bay’s rookie outside linebacker Nick Perry. 
  • Jaworski’s Film Room:  Jaworski revisits a film review session he had with Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco.  In the segment, they re-live a touchdown play vs. the Bengals where the Ravens deployed wide receiver Torrey Smith’s speed and Flacco’s play-action for a touchdown.
  • Two new NFL Matchup segments titled “Passing Thought” (Jaworski) and “Let’s See it Hoge”: Jaworski describes how the Patriots use their athletic tight ends to create matchup nightmares for their opponents, projecting it to their matchup Sunday vs. the Titans.  Hoge explains that Titans quarterback Jake Locker must improve his in-the-pocket mechanics and footwork for long-term success at the position.
  • Running 2 Daylight:  Hoge explains how the failures to recognize defensive fronts and beat individual matchups by the New York Jets’ offensive line and fullback will prove to be a disadvantage against the team’s plan to “run to daylight” vs. Buffalo Bills physical defensive line.
  • Coaches Clicker:  Using the “Coaches Clicker,” Hoge demonstrates how the Broncos, despite the presence of quarterback Peyton Manning, will use running back Willis McGahee and their physical offensive line to attack Pittsburgh’s 3-4 defense. 


Monday Night Countdown Served by Applebee’s: Baltimore’s Ray Lewis Uncovered; Gruden Extra; and more

ESPN’s Monday Night pregame show – which expands to two hours this season — will preview the season-opening MNF doubleheader (Bengals at Ravens, 7 p.m., and Chargers at Raiders, 10:15 p.m.) beginning at 5 p.m. 

Suzy Kolber (in place of Chris Berman) will host with analysts Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson, Ron Jaworski and Keyshawn Johnson on the main set from ESPN’s Bristol studio.  NFL Insiders Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter will report league news and updates.  Stuart Scott, Steve Young and Jason Taylor (subbing for Trent Dilfer) will be on-site from Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium.  MNF sideline reporter Lisa Salters will report from Bengals-Ravens, and Rachel Nichols will cover Chargers-Raiders. (Note: Berman and Dilfer will call the Chargers-Raiders MNF doubleheader game)

The season-opening show will feature the return of popular and recurring segments: “C’Mon Man!,” a unique and exciting look at some of the head-scratching plays from the weekend’s games; and “MNF Field Pass,” an all-access look-in at the stadium and storylines as the players prepare for kickoff.  In addition, Ron Jaworski, the ultimate NFL X’s and O’s film room analyst, will debut a weekly segment. Other highlights:

  • “Gruden Extra” with Bengals Andy Dalton and A.J. Green:  Last season, quarterback Andy Dalton and wide receiver A.J. Green led the Bengals to the postseason as rookies.  Dalton threw for more than 3,000 yards and 20 touchdowns.  Green had a Pro Bowl season, rare for a rookie receiver.  Expectations are now higher in Cincinnati. Ahead of their sophomore seasons, Dalton and Green sit down with MNF’s Jon Gruden in this week’s “Gruden Extra.”
  • E:60 – Ray Lewis:  Countdown will air part of Rachel Nichols’ E:60 feature that traces the long and complicated relationship between Ravens team leader Ray Lewis and his father. (The full feature airs the Tuesday night, Sept. 11, on E:60, ESPN’s Sports Emmy Award winning primetime news magazine.)
  • Rick Reilly Feature – Gerry Sandusky: columnist and Monday Night Countdown essayist Rick Reilly returns for another season with a story about Baltimore Ravens radio broadcaster Gerry Sandusky, who shares a last name with convicted serial child molester and former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.
  • Chargers-Raiders Soundtracks: The Chargers-Raiders rivalry dates back to the AFL.  This week’s “Soundtracks” features the best compilation of in-game audio and highlights from the rivalry.

New ‘This is SportsCenter’ Spot Features ESPN NFL Expert John Clayton

After years of speculation, ESPN’s ‘This is SportsCenter’ campaign finally puts the internet rumors to rest, and shows what really happens when NFL expert John Clayton finishes his segments during ESPN studio shows. The commercial will make its TV debut on Monday, Sept. 10, during ESPN’s MNF doubleheader. Video preview.

Said Clayton, “This spot gives viewers a chance to peek behind the curtain. I’m glad we’re finally able to end the speculation and focus on what looks to be a fantastic NFL season.”   

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