SBJ/Sept. 11-17, 2017/Media

Berman ready to become an NFL fan again



Chris Berman knew what he had to do to prepare for the first NFL season in more than three decades where he would not be hosting a Sunday NFL studio show.

Chris Berman will be off the NFL set on Sundays for the first time in more than three decades.
He called his cable company.

It was the middle of August and he was looking to order “NFL Sunday Ticket.” There was only one problem.

“The customer service rep sheepishly said, ‘Well, we don’t have that. You’ll have to call DirecTV,’” he said with a laugh. “I’ve been used to watching eight games at 1 p.m. Part of the fun was being in the room with everybody watching it.”

Berman, who also has DirecTV hooked up to his home, ultimately got
Hitting the links in Northern Ireland over the weekend.
Photo by: ESPN
his “Sunday Ticket” subscription. But the man who has been ESPN’s face of the NFL for 31 years would not be watching it in Week 1. In fact, Berman was not even planning to be in the United States. He was set to play the Royal Portrush golf course in Northern Ireland with seven close friends.

“I have yet to call Verizon to see if I can get the games over there,” he said. “I know I’ll get the soccer scores at least.”

Berman’s friends planned the trip, which runs from Sept. 8-16. They did not schedule it with the NFL in mind. But Berman said the trip will be a good place for him to kick off this NFL season.

“When I’m in one of those pot bunkers and they’re about to kick off, that’s when I’ll miss the fellas,” he said. “Rather than worry about what I’m going to say about the Packers and the Seahawks, I’ll be worried about how I’m going to get the hell out of that pot bunker.”

Berman cultivated an on-screen persona as the ultimate NFL fan. He said he’s excited to recapture some of that. But he also said that because of his wife’s death in May — she died in a car accident in Connecticut — he hasn’t given much thought to how he will react to spending this season away from the studio set that made him famous.

“Because of Kathy’s tragedy, I haven’t sat here agonizing over it,” he said. “[Retired NFL analyst] Tom Jackson tells me that I’m going to enjoy it more each month it goes on. He hasn’t lied to me yet.”

Berman is happy that he still will be involved with the NFL, producing features for ESPN’s various studio shows. On Monday nights he will host a piece that looks back at famous games in “Monday Night Football” history. For ESPN’s first “Monday Night Football” game this season between the Saints and the Vikings, Berman has a piece that looks back on the 2006 Falcons-Saints “Monday Night Football” game, which was the first game at the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina.

“I fell in love with football a long time ago as a fan at Shea Stadium and then watching all the time,” he said. “For almost 40 years, I’ve been able to see the games — certainly the 30-plus that I was on duty on Sundays. This will reconnect me with how I fell in love with the game as a 10- or 15-year-old. I’m OK with that.”

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