(Sept 4th 2008 – TMRZoo.com) ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown Presented by IBM will preview the first weekend of the 2008 NFL season Sunday at 11 a.m. ET with Chris Berman and analysts Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson, Keyshawn Johnson and Cris Carter, making his Countdown debut. Chris Mortensen will provide the day’s headlines and league news, and Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young will contribute his weekly Sunday segment – “Young is Restless” – featuring his opinion on the week’s hottest topics.
The two-hour NFL pre-game show will include reports from Rachel Nichols covering Brett Favre and the New York Jets at Miami Dolphins, Bob Holtzman at the Kansas City – New England game, and Ed Werder in Cleveland for the Cowboys – Browns game. Other highlights:
Jets Wide Receivers Adjust to Favre
Brett Favre is a Jet and he has spent the last month making adjustments following his trade from Green Bay. On the field, the Jets receivers might be the people making the biggest adjustments with Favre’s arrival. Former NFL standout wide receiver Cris Carter visits with the Jets receivers to see why Jerricho Cotchery is doing extra hand-strengthening exercises and why some Jets receivers are spending extra time in practice catching passes from a high-speed JUGS machine.
Patriots: Super Bowl Hangover?
The New England Patriots were just minutes away from a perfect season at Super Bowl XLII. Now, their challenge for the 2008 season is to avoid Super Bowl hangover. With the recent history of Super Bowl losing teams having inauspicious seasons the following year, Rachel Nichols reports on whether the Patriots are concerned about a Super Bowl hangover in 2008?
Tony Romo’s Off-Season
Being the Cowboys starting quarterback comes with its share of celebrity, and for Tony Romo; celebrity reached a whole new level this past offseason. With singer and actress Jessica Simpson as his girlfriend, Romo was just as likely to appear on the gossip pages as he was on the sports pages. The spotlight was on Romo whether he attended a club in Los Angeles, played in a celebrity golf tournament, or sang “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” at Wrigley Field. Countdown recaps Romo’s offseason as he tried to rebound from another disappointing Dallas playoff defeat.
Mayne Event: Favre vs. the New York Media
Many great players have gone to New York and have been torn down by the tough New York media. Kenny Mayne, in the season-opening edition of his self-titled “Mayne Event” segment, takes a look at how the New York media is reacting to Brett Favre’s arrival, from the eyes of three “fringe” reporters.
Soundtracks: Mike Holmgren
Seahawks head coach Mike Holmgren announced 2008 will be his last season in Seattle. “Soundtracks” will feature the coach’s last training camp with the Seahawks.
Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em with Matthew Berry and Merril Hoge
ESPN’s fantasy football guru Matthew Berry and NFL analyst Merril Hoge will team up this season to debate which players to start or sit each week in the enhanced “Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em” segment beginning Sunday. Berry and Hoge will also highlight weekly trends and sleepers.
Berman, Ditka, Jackson, Johnson and Smith will pick the biggest games of the day and tell fans which players will make the biggest impact in NFL’s Week 1 action. The list of game picks will be posted on www.espn.com/sundaycountdown after the show.
SPECIAL TWO-HOUR MONDAY NIGHT COUNTDOWN, 5 P.M. ON ESPN
Monday Night Countdown Delivered by UPS will feature a special, two-hour season-opening edition with Berman, Jackson, Johnson, new analyst Carter and Mortensen in Bristol and Stuart Scott, Young and Emmitt Smith at the MNF game in Green Bay. The pre-game show will lead into the kickoff of ESPN’s Monday Night Football doubleheader – Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers (7 p.m.), featuring Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski and Tony Kornheiser, and Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders (10:15 p.m.) with Mike Greenberg, Mike Golic and Mike Ditka.
Reporters Michele Tafoya will cover the Vikings and Wendi Nix will cover the Packers. Suzy Kolber will be in Oakland covering the Broncos and Raiders. Other highlights:
Unmasked: Adrian Peterson
“Unmasked,” a new Monday Night Countdown segment debuts with 2007 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Adrian Peterson offering a first-person account of what drives him on and off the field. (Each Monday, the segment will offer a personality profile of a star player in that night’s MNF matchup.)
ESPN the Magazine’s “For Love of the Game:” D’Angelo Hall
This season, Monday Night Countdown will partner with ESPN the Magazine to create a unique weekly feature – “For Love of the Game.” The feature will pair a player with his significant other and a teammate to find out which of them knows more about the NFL athlete. This week, D’Angelo Hall’s wife, Jada, and his teammate linebacker Kirk Morrison will face off to see who really knows the Raiders cornerback better.
Soundtracks: Best of Broncos-Raiders Rivalry
Countdown captures the best on-the-field sights and sounds of the Broncos-Raiders rivalry –one of the fiercest rivalries in sports. The teams will be meeting for a record 15th time on MNF.
Countdown offers an all-access look at pre-game preparations as the players get ready for kickoff. Analysts will also breakdown the important storylines and key players before the game.
WEEKLY MONDAY NIGHT COUNTDOWN SEGMENTS
QUARTERBACK CONUNDRUM – Steve Young and new ESPN NFL analyst Trent Dilfer have one thing in common – they are Super Bowl winning quarterbacks. After that, they don’t see eye-to-eye on a lot of issues around the league. In “quarterback conundrum,” a new debate segment with the two quarterbacks, Young and Dilfer offer their views on topical issues each week in the NFL.
TEAMS AT 20 – Every 20 minutes reporters Tafoya, Nix and Kolber will update news from the teams in their preparations for the game, beginning with NFL Live at 1:30 p.m.
In addition, Monday Night Football’s Tirico, Jaworski and Kornheiser will preview the night’s match-up, with Mortensen covering breaking news from around the league and the Countdown analysts offering their “Lead Pipe Lock” predictions for the game.
STATE FARM NFL MATCHUP, SUNDAY 3 A.M. AND 7:30 A.M. ON ESPN
State Farm NFL Matchup, airing at a new time this season (Sundays at 3 a.m. and 7:30 a.m.), with host Sal Paolantonio and analysts Ron Jaworski and Merril Hoge will preview the 2008 NFL season-opening weekend by bringing viewers inside the film room for the Xs and Os analysis of the matchups. The 30-minute program – taped each week at NFL Films in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey – highlights team strategy and game planning. This week’s features:
Jets @ Dolphins
Brett Favre might look different in a new uniform, but the rifle-armed quarterback can still sling it. Jaworski spotlights how Brett Favre adds a dimension to the Jets’ passing game that has been lacking for years.
Jaguars @ Titans
Hoge, the “Factor Back” is back, and he’s picked his top rookie runner of the 2008 class – Titans running back Chris Johnson.
Cowboys @ Browns
The Cowboys are the popular pick to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl, and that’s mostly because of their explosive offense. Jaworski displays how the dangerous Cowboys offense creates mismatches in their favor even without quality depth at the wide receiver position.
Bears @ Colts
The Bears’ starting quarterback position has been a cause for concern in recent years. Jaworski sees some traits in Kyle Orton’s play this preseason that suggests he has a chance, and highlights how the new starting signal-caller has the ability to make tough NFL-caliber throws.
Rams @ Eagles
Key offseason additions, including wide receiver DeSean Jackson, have the city of Philadelphia buzzing over a possible Super Bowl run in 2008, but it will take more than just a few new faces for the green-birds to fulfill their lofty expectations. Hoge showcases how Eagles head coach Andy Reid must continue manufacturing offense through scheme-and-design for the Eagles to win this season.
Vikings @ Packers
The Vikings are an NFC favorite heading into the 2008 season. Much of that is due to second-year phenom Adrian Peterson. But, it is the Vikings new-look, pressure-style defense that will have the team playing in January. Jaworski breaks out his “X and O Files,” and unveils how the Minnesota “D” will attack opposing quarterbacks in 2008.