Brent Musburger, Chris Berman Changed Our TV Picture
A generation of sports broadcasting trailblazers is vanishing before our very eyes.
Vin Scully, Dick Enberg and Verne Lundquist retired late last year. Now Brent Musburger and Chris Berman are leaving the airwaves.
Musburger, 75, retires after calling the Kentucky-Georgia game at 9 p.m. Tuesday on ESPN. He pioneered the modern TV pregame studio show doing "The NFL on CBS" in the late 1970s with Phyllis George, Irv Cross and Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder. When they'd go to a live shot from a NFL stadium, Musburger would tell viewers: "You're lookin' live…."
He's done just about every major sporting event on TV – and co-anchored local news (with Connie Chung!) on KNXT-TV (now KCBS-TV) in Los Angeles in the 1970s. He was CBS' main play-by-play voice for 15 years for the NCAA Final Four, US Open, NBA, Masters, Belmont Stakes and the College World Series on TV, and postseason baseball on radio, including some games with Scully, who retired from the Dodgers in October after 67 seasons.
Musburger was dumped by CBS in 1990, months before CBS started Major League Baseball telecasts. He quickly resumed his career at ABC and ESPN, doing mostly college football and basketball games, including the 2016 Rose Bowl and 2017 Sugar Bowl.
Berman, who came to ESPN at age 24 in October 1979 -- a month after the network's premiere -- starts a new, limited role on the network after Super Bowl LI this Sunday.
Berman, 61, was told last May his contract would not be renewed. He hosted ESPN's "NFL Countdown" pregame shows for 31 years, mostly with Cincinnati resident Tom Jackson. On his last show Jan. 22, the studio was named the Chris Berman-Tom Jackson Studio.
For ESPN, Berman also has hosted NFL draft shows, U.S. Open telecasts and baseball's All-Star Home Run Derby. He has covered 34 Super Bowls, 31 All-Star games and 30 World Series.
Called "Boomer" for his booming baritone voice, he's known for his signature phrases for touchdowns ("He… could … go … all … the … way!") and home runs ("Back, back, back, back … Gone!"), and nicknames for baseball players. His roster of Reds included Jose "Blame It On" Rijo, Pete "Raise Your Hand If You're" Schourek, Chris Hammond "Cheese," Reggie "Colonel" Sanders, Rob "Double" Dibble, Jack Armstrong "The All-American Boy" and Gary Redus "A Bedtime Story."
ESPN announced Jan. 5 that Berman will continue to do opinion and historical pieces about NFL events, and appear weekly on "Monday Night Countdown." He'll also participate in ESPN's annual ESPYS Awards and do baseball divisional playoffs play-by-play for ESPN Radio. That's a gracious way to keep a legend around some.
Enberg, 82, called 42 NFL seasons, 10 Super Bowls, nine Rose Bowls, the 1982 World Series and 15 NCAA basketball championship games in 36 years at NBC and CBS. He also called the Masters, PGA Championships, U.S. Open Tennis Championships. He was the California Angels announcer 1968-78 before joining NBC, and returned to baseball after CBS as the Padres radio voice until retiring in October.
Lundquist, 76, retired in December after 44 years calling college football and basketball, the Winter Olympics and golf.
More changes are coming. ESPN's Sunday morning "Sports Reporters" roundtable show ends May 7 after nearly 30 years.
And soon ESPN Radio could break up the popular "Mike & Mike" morning duo of Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic after 18 years together at ESPN headquarters in Bristol, CT. Multiple reports say ESPN wants Goldberg to anchor an ESPN morning TV show from New York City.