ESPN studio host Chris Berman is the 2010 recipient of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award, it was announced today. The award, given annually by the Pro Football Hall of Fame recognizes "long-time exceptional contributions to radio and television in professional football."
Berman will receive the award on Friday, Aug. 6 during the Enshrinees Dinner. That event is where the Class of 2010 – Russ Grimm, Rickey Jackson, Dick LeBeau, Floyd Little, John Randle, Jerry Rice, and Emmitt Smith – will receive their gold Pro Football Hall of Fame jackets.
The Class of 2010 Enshrinement Ceremony takes place the following day at 7:00 PM ET. On Sunday, Aug. 8 at 8:00 PM ET, the Cincinnati Bengals and Dallas Cowboys will play in the annual Pro Football Hall of Fame Game.
Berman, who was hired by ESPN in October 1979, just one month after its inception, has become one of America's most respected, popular, and in many ways, most beloved sportscasters of his era. With his trademark combination of genuine enthusiasm, knowledge and wit, he has come to embody ESPN in its dedication to entertaining and informing sports fans across the country.
"I embraced pro football a long time ago," Berman said upon learning of his selection. "I'm honored and humbled beyond belief, that pro football in turn, has embraced me."
Six times Berman has been selected the National Sportscaster of the Year by the members of the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. Berman, who in 1989 became the first cable sportscaster to win the award, ranks second among sportscasters in winning this award from the NSSA. Berman and his various shows have won 10 Emmy Awards and 12 CableACEs.
The 2010 season will be Berman's 25th consecutive as studio host of Sunday NFL Countdown, having long surpassed Brent Musburger's 15-year record in 2001 as the longest running host of a weekly pro football studio show. The weekly Sunday morning pre-game show has won seven Sports Emmy awards for Outstanding Studio Show – Weekly. It was nominated again in 2008, along with Monday Night Countdown, marking the first time both of ESPN's NFL studio shows hosted by Berman were nominated.
Berman – a veteran of 28 Super Bowls, beginning with the 49ers' first NFL Championship in Super Bowl XVI – has worked alongside Tom Jackson on Sunday NFL Countdown since 1987, when ESPN first acquired the rights to carry the NFL. This dynamic duo teamed together every Sunday night in the fall from 1987-2005 to host the critically-acclaimed NFL PrimeTime, annually cable television's highest-rated studio show. Since 2006, Berman and Jackson have continued to deliver all the NFL highlights to fans – for a total of 24 years now – during both the 7 p.m. edition of the Sunday night SportsCenter (with John Saunders and Trent Dilfer) and on "The Blitz" on the 11 p.m. SportsCenter.
When Monday Night Football moved to ESPN in 2006, so did Berman's signature weekly halftime highlights trip through the NFL, "The Fastest Three Minutes in Television." It was a staple on Sunday Night Football for all 19 years (1987-2005), and remains one now on Monday Night Football. In 2006, Berman traveled to the MNF city each week to host the Monday Night Countdown 90-minute pre-game, halftime and post-game shows. He continues in that role today from the ESPN studios, and in 2008 Berman had the honor of conducting the final interviews with then presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain during the MNF halftime on the eve of the election.
Berman played the role of halftime host for ABC Sports' Monday Night Football from 1996-99, and he served as host of the Monday Night Blast pre-game show in 1998 and anchored the network's Wildcard Saturday from 1996-2005. In 2000, 2003 and 2006, Berman anchored ABC's Super Bowl XXXIV, XXXVII and XL pre-game shows working alongside the likes of Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young and Jackson, two of his regular ESPN partners.
The preeminent NFL host, Berman has served as Master of Ceremony for the prestigious Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony for 10 years (1999-2008), and in 2009 he enjoyed the rare and distinguished honor of presenting Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson, Jr. during the enshrinement ceremony. He considers this to be among the most precious and unexpected opportunities of his distinguished pro football broadcasting career. Two others rank with it: being master of ceremonies at Hall of Fame coach Bill Walsh's public remembrance at Candlestick Park in 2007, per the Walsh family's wishes; and providing the impetus for Patriots' coach Bill Belichick to allow quarterback Doug Flutie to attempt a drop-kick in the 2005 season finale. It was the NFL's first successful drop-kick since 1941.
Berman has anchored ESPN's annual NFL Draft telecast since 1987, and he hosted ESPN's two-hour documentary presentation in 2009 of The Greatest Game Ever Played highlighting the legendary 1958 NFL Championship Game between the Baltimore Colts and New York Giants. His prognosticating alter-ego – the "Swami" – has provided weekly NFL predictions and observations on SportsCenter since 1979.
Berman was honored four times with the CableACE Award as cable's best sports host, and was named "Sportscaster of the Year" in the Studio Host category on three occasions by the American Sportscasters Association. Other honors include the prestigious Reds Bagnell Award (2001) from the Maxwell Football Club of Philadelphia for "contributions to the game of football," and The Pat Summerall Award at the 2009 Legends for Charity dinner in recognition of his longtime excellence in football broadcasting. Berman was named in 2008 to the CableFAX Hall of Fame as a member of the inaugural class of inductees.
Most recently, Berman was honored May 24, 2010 by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame as a tribute for his more than 30 years of contribution to the sports television industry.
Past recipients of the Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award
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1989 - Bill MacPhail
1990 - Lindsey Nelson
1991 - Ed Sabol
1992 - Chris Schenkel
1993 - Curt Gowdy
1994 - Pat Summerall
1995 - Frank Gifford
1996 - Jack Buck
1997 - Charlie Jones
1998 - Val Pinchbeck
1999 - Dick Enberg
2000 - Ray Scott
2001 - Roone Arledge
2002 - John Madden
2003 - Don Criqui
2004 - Van Miller
2005 - Myron Cope
2006 - Lesley Visser
2007 - Don Meredith
2008 - Dan Dierdorf
2009 - Irv Cross