Not too many press releases today in my inbox, but I’ll give you what I have.
First, former Dallas Mavericks coach Avery Johnson becomes the second Johnson (Magic was the other) to join ESPN’s NBA coverage.
Avery Johnson Joins ESPN as Studio AnalystFormer NBA point guard and head coach Avery Johnson has also joined ESPN as an NBA studio analyst, mainly joining host Stuart Scott and analyst Bill Walton on ESPN’s NBA Shootaround pregame show throughout the season and postseason. Johnson, who contributed to ESPN’s NBA Playoff coverage earlier this year, will also contribute at times to ABC’s GMC NBA Countdown.“Avery has excelled in every professional endeavor and we know his success will carry over to his on-air role,” said Norby Williamson, ESPN executive vice president, production. “His experience and passion for the game will resonate with our fans.”“I’m excited to join the ESPN family of networks and, specifically, to join the NBA broadcast team,” said Johnson. “ESPN and ABC has an abundance of terrific talent and I’m glad to launch my career in broadcasting with the premiere sports network.”
Johnson most recently served as coach of the Dallas Mavericks (2004-08), guiding the franchise to a .735 winning percentage (194-70). His team advanced to the Finals in 2006 and Johnson was rewarded with NBA Coach of the Year recognition. During the 2007 season, Johnson became the fastest coach to reach 150 wins.
Johnson, an NBA champion with the San Antonio Spurs in 1999, had a 16-year NBA career including time with the Seattle SuperSonics (1988-90), Denver Nuggets (1990-91; 2001-02), Spurs (1991, 1992-93, 1994-2001), Houston Rockets (1992), Golden State Warriors (1993-94, 2003-04) and Dallas Mavericks (2002-03). Johnson earned the NBA Sportsmanship Award in 1998.
And here are the stories and features you’ll see on ESPN Sunday NFL Countdown and Monday Night Countdown.
ESPN’s Weekend and Monday NFL Studio Features
ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown will preview the day’s matchups Sunday at 11 a.m. ET with Chris Berman and analysts Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson and Keyshawn Johnson. Chris Mortensen will also provide headlines and league news, and Steve Young will contribute his weekly Sunday segment, “Young is Restless.”
The program will include reports from Ed Werder covering the Dallas Cowboys at the St. Louis Rams, Sal Paolantonio in Buffalo, N.Y., for the Chargers at the Bills, and Rachel Nichols covering the Indianapolis Colts at Green Bay Packers game. Other highlights:
The 2008 Cowboys season has played more like the old television series Dallas than anyone could have imagined. A wide receiver concerned about his role in the offense, a cornerback whose off-the-field behavior has earned him another suspension, and mounting injuries to the starting quarterback and a play-making running back, both happening in the same game. Reporter Greg Garber looks at all the elements that make up the “soap opera” of the Cowboys season.
Titans Defensive Line Unity
One of the secrets to Tennessee’s dominant defensive line is not on the practice field or in the meeting rooms but can be found at any hardware store. The Tennessee D-line keeps a circular chain with each player’s number on it to signify strength in unity. Countdown’s Jackson travels to Nashville to find out what the chain means to the Titans’ “front four.”
Mayne Event: The Helmet Debate
Senators John McCain and Barack Obama held their third and final presidential campaign debate Wednesday night, making their stances known on the economy, health care and national security. In this week’s “Mayne Event,” Kenny Mayne wanted to find out where the two candidates are on the hot-button issue of 2008 – NFL helmet safety.
Countdown’s “Spin The Wheel”
In “Spin The Wheel,” Countdown analysts discuss and debate hot-button NFL topics and issues displayed on a wheel.
EA Sports Virtual Playbook: Dwight Freeney vs. Aaron Rodgers
In EA Sports Virtual Playbook, Jackson breaks down Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney and the techniques he will use to get to Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
In his self-titled weekly segment, the erstwhile mercurial NFL head coach Mike Ditka sends an NFL player to “Ditka’s Doghouse,” much like he did to erring players during his coaching career.
Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em with Matthew Berry and Merril Hoge
ESPN’s fantasy football guru Matthew Berry and NFL analyst Merril Hoge preview which players to start or sit Sunday in “Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em” including, weekly trends and sleepers in the NFL.
Berman, Carter, Ditka, Jackson and Johnson will pick the biggest games of the day and tell fans which players will make the biggest impact in NFL’s Week 7 action. The list of game picks will be posted on www.espn.com/sundaycountdown after the show.
MONDAY NIGHT COUNTDOWN, 7 P.M. ON ESPN
Monday Night Countdown with Berman, Carter, Ditka, Jackson, Johnson, and Mortensen (in Bristol) and Stuart Scott, Young and Emmitt Smith (at the MNF game in Foxborough, Mass.) will review Sunday’s games and previ
ew Monday Night Football. The 90-minute, pre-game show will lead into the kickoff of the Denver Broncos at New England Patriots game (8:30 p.m.), featuring Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski and Tony Kornheiser.
Reporters Michele Tafoya (Broncos) and Suzy Kolber (Patriots) and will cover the teams. Other highlights:
ESPN the Magazine’s “For Love or The Game:” Richard Seymour
New England Patriots defensive end Richard Seymour will be the subject of Monday’s “For Love or The Game,” a Countdown segment that pairs a player or coach with a member of his family and a teammate to find out which person knows more about him. Seymour’s wife, Tanya, and his teammate Ty Warren battle to see who really knows Seymour better.
“Soundtracks:” Bill Belichick
Patriots Bill Belichick, a three-time Super Bowl-winning head coach and one of the best in the league, is wired for sound in this week’s “Soundtracks,” giving viewers a rare peek inside the mind of the coach during practices and games.
EA Sports Virtual Playbook: Jay Cutler’s Bootleg Pass
Countdown’s Jackson takes viewers on the field to show how Denver quarterback Jay Cutler has become dangerous throwing on the run.
“Unmasked:” Champ Bailey
One of the best matchups to watch Monday night will be between Patriots wide receiver Randy Moss and Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey. In this week’s “Unmasked,” Countdown takes viewers inside the helmet with Denver’s shutdown corner.
And from Fox Sports, here are quotes from Troy Aikman, Michael Strahan and Brian Billick on the NFL’s top stories.
NFL ON FOX WEEK 7: NFC EAST LOOKS TO REBOUND; NFC SOUTH RIVALS FACE-OFF – The 2008 NFL on FOX campaign moves into Week 7 on Sunday, Oct. 19 with singleheader coverage of five competitive matchups—each presented in crystal clear HD. In the 1:00 PM ET window, the Giants and Cowboys look to rebound from tough losses in Week 6. Following their first loss of the season, Eli Manning and the defending champs look to get back to their winning ways as they host Mike Nolan’s San Francisco 49ers. In St. Louis, the Rams try to take down their second straight NFC East opponent when they welcome the Dallas Cowboys and their newest weapon, wide receiver Roy Williams. Also in the early window, NFC South rivals meet in Charlotte, NC when Drew Brees and the Saints visit the Panthers while the Bears host the Vikings at Soldier Field. At 4:00 PM ET the Lions take on the Texans in Houston.
Coverage begins at 12:00 PM ET with America’s most-watched pregame show, FOX NFL SUNDAY. Co-hosts Terry Bradshaw and Curt Menefee join analysts Howie Long, Jimmy Johnson and Michael Strahan to provide insightful opinions on the NFL. NFL Insider, Jay Glazer presents the latest news and notes on “Glazer’s Edge.” Weather forecaster Jillian Reynolds and comedic prognosticator Frank Caliendo also contribute. In this week’s show, reporter Pam Oliver talks to Saints QB Drew Brees abou
t New Orleans’ strong start and the prospects of his team in the NFC South. In addition, fresh off providing a blueprint to fix the Eagles offensive woes, Coach Johnson looks at the problems in Dallas and offers his advice to get the Cowboys back on track.
During postgame coverage of early matchups and halftime of the Lions/Texans game, FOX Sports will exclusively unveil this season’s first official BCS college football standings. BCS on FOX lead analyst Charles Davis joins Menefee, Bradshaw, Johnson and former national championship winning head coach Barry Switzer to break down the rankings and look ahead to next week’s most impact games. FOX Sports is the exclusive home to the 2009 FedEx Orange Bowl, Allstate Sugar Bowl, Tostitos Fiesta Bowl and the FedEx BCS National Championship Game.
AIKMAN ASSESSES GIANTS LOSS TO CLEVELAND AND COWBOYS LOSS OF ROMO – NFL on FOX lead analyst Troy Aikman calls this week’s Giants game against the 49ers and while he thinks it’s a pivotal game for the G-Men, he stresses that last week’s Monday Night loss to the Browns should not make anyone hit the panic button in New York: “If you had looked at the Giants schedule at the start of the season and saw the Monday Night game in Cleveland, you’d think that could be a really tough game based on what people thought of Cleveland heading into the season. I don’t know if you necessarily chalk that up as a win for the Giants before the season starts. I’m not concerned by the loss and I don’t think that the Giants should be concerned. You have those kind of games sometimes. You don’t like them but they happen.”
Aikman also considers what effect the loss of Cowboys’ quarterback Tony Romo will have in the coming weeks: “It’s going to have a major impact on the team. I certainly feel that Brad Johnson’s capable and will do a good job. It’s just going to be a different look entirely. People who say that Dallas still has a lot of playmakers really underestimate what Tony meant to them as far as the big plays. Dallas leads the league this year in plays of 20 yards or more and they led the league last year. They had more than New England did a year ago and Tony Romo was a big reason for that.”
BILLICK: WILLIAMS ACQUISITION MAY GIVE DALLAS TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING – The biggest move as the NFL trading deadline approached yesterday was the acquisition of Roy Williams by the Cowboys. NFL on FOX analyst Brian Billick wonders, with the personalities already in place in Dallas, if there such a thing as being too talented. “Talent always makes you better but wide receiver is the singular position where it’s hard to have two really good guys under contract at the same time. They are in competition with one another. Defensive ends aren’t in competition and you can have all the good lineman you want. But from a contractual standpoint, receivers are constantly in competition with one another to be the No. 1 guy, because that No. 1 guy means No. 1 receiver money on the team. Having Terrell Owens and Roy Williams there together is going to be interesting.”
STRAHAN: COWBOYS SHOULD HAVE CLEANED THEIR OWN HOUSE IN PACMAN MESS – In the wake of the league’s decision to suspend Adam “Pacman” Jones for at least four games after violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy, FOX NFL SUNDAY analyst Michael Strahan considers whether the league would have had to step in at all if the Cowboys had disciplined Jones themselves. “I would have loved to have seen the Cowboys come out and handle this themselves. Maybe if Dallas had come in with some type of action, the NFL would have said, ‘Okay, they’re handling their own business.’ It would have shown the NFL they understood the agreement to reinstate Pacman. I don’t think the Cowboys really handled it well and just made excuses for him. The NFL had to do something.”
That’s it for now.