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ESPN Reveals NFL Coverage Plans

Jason Barrett

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ESPN’s commentator team of Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden and sideline reporter Lisa Salters return for MNF’s 46th season (10th on ESPN). Schedule release. What to watch for:

  • MNF will introduce a new show open, as well as new graphics, animations, and a new shield logo.
  • After successful testing in the preseason, MNF will add Pylon Cam to its regular season game coverage. The system uses four custom-molded goal line pylons that house four cameras each to offer brand new perspectives around the goal line. It is the latest in the MNF history of innovative production enhancements and was first deployed and tested during the College Football Playoff Championship in January and then further developed for this season.
  • The MNF production will also feature a new booth backdrop; weekly telecasts will utilize four Dreamcatchers, six Sony 4300 cameras in high frame rate 1080p, one Sony 4300 in high frame rate UHD 4k at the high end zone, and two iMovix Phantom cameras in high frame rate UHD 4k on the goal lines.
  • In celebration of Frank Gifford’s life and longtime contributions to MNF, the No. 16 he wore as a Giants player will be placed on all of the MNF production trucks this season. Tirico and Gruden will also wear No. 16 lapel pins during games, and Gifford’s voice will be featured in the new MNF show open.

Sunday NFL Countdown – New two-hour, more fast-paced show; increased role for Matthew Berry
The 2015 season marks the 30th anniversary of Sunday NFL Countdown (11 a.m.-1 p.m. ET, ESPN), which debuted in 1985 as NFL GameDay. Host Chris Berman, analysts Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson and Keyshawn Johnson, host/reporter Wendi Nix and NFL Insiders Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter kick off the show’s fourth decade with a more fast-paced, whip-around two-hour format. Details:

  • Senior fantasy sports analyst Matthew Berry will have a more prominent role on the show.
  • The new show open pairs remade music by Chase Holfelder with messages voiced by Kai Greene.
  • ESPN will have a camera at every NFL game on Sundays.

NFL Insiders: Sunday Edition – ESPN’s popular weekday show is added to Sunday lineup
Debuting September 13 and leading into Sunday NFL Countdown, the new one-hour NFL Insiders: Sunday Edition (10-11 a.m., ESPN) will provide fans with up-to-the-minute information on Sunday’s slate of NFL games. Trey Wingo will host with NFL Insiders Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter and NFL Front Office Insider Louis Riddick.

ESPN Fantasy Field Yates joins Fantasy Football Now; New Fantasy Football Kickoff on Tuesdays

  • The two-hour Fantasy Football Now (Sundays, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on ESPN2) pregame show returns with NFL Insider/reporter Field Yates joining Robert Flores, Matthew Berry, Tim Hasselbeck, Sara Walsh and Stephania Bell.
  • The new 30-minute Fantasy Football Kickoff (Tuesdays, 3-3:30 p.m. on ESPN) show with Berry, Flores and Hasselbeck airs throughout the season.

More ESPN NFL Studio – Expanded NFL roles for Suzy Kolber and Josina Anderson

ESPN Radio

  • For the third year, ESPN Radio broadcasts out-of-market NFL games, beginning September 13. Commentators include play-by-play announcers Marc Kestecher, Bill Rosinski and Ryan Ruocco, and analysts Herm Edwards, Shaun O’Hara and Bill Polian.
  • A new fall football-themed weekend lineup kicked off September 5.
  • ESPN Audio podcasts ESPN Fantasy Focus Football, ESPN Fantasy Football Weekly andESPN DFS Podcast offer fans dedicated fantasy football coverage.
  • ESPN Radio shows travel to select NFL cities and Monday Night Football games as part of its annual Fall Football Tour, including Mike and Mike at the New York Jets facility on September 11.
  • Mike and Mike and other shows welcome weekly guests – Cris Carter, Trent Dilfer, Mike Ditka, Ron Jaworski, Steve Young and more – to discuss the NFL.

ESPN Digital and Print
ESPN.com’s NFL coverage starts with an industry-leading group of 32 NFL Nation team reporters, which provides a 365-day stream of news, analysis, game coverage, predictions, interviews, fantasy insight, as well photos, videos, and social elements surrounding each NFL club. Their work and faces are featured daily on shows like SportsCenter, NFL Live and NFL Insiders. Other NFL coverage staples:

  • 32 for 32: A new daily feature each morning featuring one must-read nugget for each team. This is the NFL fan’s daily cheatsheet on the biggest names and storylines throughout the league.
  • Football Power Index: Designed to be a predictive measure of power, the FPI makes its NFL debut this season. The addition of Brian Burke, founder of the popular website Advanced Football Analytics and a leading voice in NFL analytics, will allow ESPN Stats & Info to do even more with football analytics. Each week, FPI will be used to highlight the most overrated and underrated teams.
  • Top Names for News: A new joint column from Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen each Thursday, plus John Clayton’s Inside the Huddle both in column and video form throughout the week.
  • An NFL ‘Front Office:’ Hall-of-Famer Bill Polian, Louis Riddick, Mark Dominik, Herm Edwards, and more, debate key personnel issues during the season.
  • The Insiders: Mike Sando, Field Yates, Matt Williamson, Adam Caplan and others deliver deep breakdowns daily.
  • Power Rankings: Nothing is clicked on or argued over more. This drops every Tuesday in conjunction with SportsCenter. #ESPNRANK – a preseason countdown of the top 100 players in the NFL – is also a popular feature this season.
  • ‘This Guy’ for Monday Night Football: Jon Gruden calls the game, and he previews MNFevery week for ESPN Insiders.
  • The Hot Read: Elizabeth Merrill, Jim Trotter, Ashley Fox, Greg Garber, Kevin Van Valkenberg, Seth Wickersham and others offer weekly enterprise reporting throughout the season.
  • Kiper & McShay: Mel Kiper’s Big Board and Todd McShay’s Top 32 run throughout the season, and their mock drafts start in December and run through April. Kiper’s Grades and Todd’s Best Picks won’t only live online, but feed days of post-draft TV programming, including a signature show.
  • espnW: NFL coverage on espnW includes features from Kate Fagan, Jane McManus, Sarah Spain and others.
  • com: Senior writer Bill Barnwell and staff writer Jonathan Abrams regularly cover NFL topics for Grantland.com.

Sports TV News

Stephen A. Smith: ‘I Don’t Feel Obligated To Agree With Black Community’

“I want the Black community to always know that they have somebody in me that’s going to at least tell the world what we’re feeling and why, whether I agree with it or not.”

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Stephen A. Smith is out promoting his new memoir Straight Shooter. He recently sat down for a conversation with Men’s Health magazine.

Interviewer Rachel Epstein covers a wide variety of topics with Smith. Some are about what can be found in the book. Some are about the First Take star’s public perception.

She asked how Smith balances the responsibility of representing the Black community with his brand. On ESPN, Smith is known for being unique and unapologetic for his sometimes over-the-top persona.

“Number one by being fair,” he said. “By trying to gather as much information and educate myself on issues as much as I possibly can.”

He added that he has never felt pressure to think a certain way or say a certain thing. Even if pressure existed, he prides himself on not giving in to it.

“I never feel an obligation to agree with my community. I believe we all have a right to think the way we want to think. But I do feel a responsibility to make sure that the perspective emanating from my community is heard, even if I disagree.”

Stephen A. Smith is one of the highest-paid and most visible employees at ESPN. He said that a certain responsibility comes along with that status. He wants the Black community to know that even if he doesn’t agree, he will make sure people know what he is hearing when he is on TV talking about an important subject.

“I want the Black community to always know that they have somebody in me that’s going to at least tell the world what we’re feeling and why, whether I agree with it or not.”

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Sports TV News

Kathryn Tappen Joining NBC’s Big Ten Coverage

“Tappen was in line to replace Michele Tafoya as the sideline reporter for Sunday Night Football but was passed over by the network in favor of Melissa Stark.”

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NBC has tabbed Kathryn Tappen as its sideline reporter for the network’s upcoming coverage of Big Ten football, according to a report from Andrew Marchand of The New York Post.

According to Marchand, Tappen was in line to replace Michele Tafoya as the sideline reporter for Sunday Night Football but was passed over by the network in favor of Melissa Stark.

Tappen has hosted Notre Dame football’s studio coverage and Peacock Sunday Night Football Final. She also worked as NBC’s lead interviewer for its coverage of the PGA Tour, but left that broadcast team at the end of 2022 as part of the network’s larger shakeup of its golf coverage.

The appointment of Kathryn Tappen conceivably concludes the Big Ten on NBC broadcast crew. Noah Eagle and Todd Blackledge are expected to pair as the network’s play-by-play announcer and color analyst, respectively. NBC has yet to officially unveil its coverage plans for the 2023 college football season.

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Sports TV News

Peter King: Sean McVay Wants to be a Star, ‘Not Just Some Guy on TV’

“I do think he had some regret over not taking a two- or three-year hiatus last year and taking one of the big TV jobs. Amazon? Maybe FOX? But if he really wanted to jump after winning the Super Bowl, he would have.”

Jordan Bondurant

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L.A. Rams head coach Sean McVay will remain at his post for the 2023-24 season. The team tweeted that news Friday afternoon, seeming to, at least for now, put the rumors of McVay leaving coaching for a TV job to rest.

ProFootballTalk’s Peter King wrote in Football Morning in America on Monday that McVay understands the kind of position on television he’s looking for may not necessarily be there for him.

“I don’t think that was the only thing about TV that appealed to him, but I don’t think McVay was interested in being Just a Guy on TV,” King wrote. “I do think he had some regret over not taking a two- or three-year hiatus last year and taking one of the big TV jobs. Amazon? Maybe FOX? But if he really wanted to jump after winning the Super Bowl, he would have.”

King noted that McVay has been told to “Do what makes you happy” by folks with the Rams. He also said he believes coaching is what Makes McVay happy. Especially with a chance to shake up his coaching staff and being involved in trying to bring the team back from a 5-12 season in their follow-up campaign to winning the Super Bowl.

“He wants to be challenged, and this staff wasn’t doing it,” King said. “Offensive coordinator Liam Coen may not have been what McVay wanted in an OC—a coach who would challenge him and bring new ideas to him—and that could be why he’s going back to the University of Kentucky as a coordinator.”

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