Sunday NFL Countdown

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Sunday NFL Countdown
Sunday NFL Countdown logo.svg
Sunday NFL Countdown logo used from 2006–2013
Starring Samantha Ponder
Randy Moss
Rex Ryan
Matt Hasselbeck
Charles Woodson
Chris Mortensen
Adam Schefter
Country of origin United States
Running time 2 hours
Original network ESPN (1985–)
ESPN HD (2004–)
Original release September 7, 1985 – present
External links

Sunday NFL Countdown is a pregame show of all the NFL action for that week. The official name is Sunday NFL Countdown presented by Snickers. The show airs on ESPN, ESPN HD, TSN and TSN HD from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Eastern time every Sunday during the National Football League regular season. In Europe it is aired by ESPN America.

It is very similar to The NFL Today on CBS and Fox NFL Sunday, which airs on Fox. The show's former names include NFL GameDay from 1985 to 1995, NFL Countdown from 1996 to 1997, and since 1998, Sunday NFL Countdown (to demarcate from the Monday night version of the series). In 2006, the program introduced new graphics and a new logo to resemble the network's Monday Night Football logo.

Chris Berman had been the studio host since 1986 succeeding Bob Ley. Jack Youngblood was the first analyst. In 1987, he was replaced by Pete Axthelm and Tom Jackson.

The show's awards include seven Sports Emmy Awards for Outstanding Weekly Show (1988, 1991, 1994, 1995, 2001, 2003, and 2006 seasons) and five CableACE Awards (1989, 1992, 1993, 1994, and 1995 seasons).

On September 7, 2014, which was the 35th anniversary of ESPN's launch, Sunday NFL Countdown debuted a brand-new studio inside Digital Center 2 of ESPN's main facilities in Bristol. With it, came a new logo and also, a new graphics package similar to that of SportsCenter. Like SportsCenter, a Helvetica font is used, but with the lower-thirds having white text on a black background, as opposed to black text on a white background. Starting September 8, every NFL show produced at ESPN now shares its new graphics, new logo, and a new set (except Monday Night Countdown, which itself shares the same graphics package and theme music as Monday Night Football).

On September 13, 2015, Sunday NFL Countdown was shortened from 3 hours to 2 hours, due to a new Sunday edition of NFL Insiders being aired in the 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. ET time slot. Therefore, Sunday NFL Countdown was moved down an hour to 11 a.m. ET.

The show usually originates from Bristol, but it originates in the city hosting the Super Bowl for its Super Bowl edition. On November 20, 2016, the show originated from Mexico City, which was hosting the Monday Night Football game the following night between the Houston Texans and Oakland Raiders. In January 2017, ESPN announced that Berman would leave the show at the end of the 2016-17 season, ending his 31-year tenure as host of this program. Berman will be replaced with Samantha Ponder, who had previously co-hosted and contributed to College GameDay from 2012–2016.


On July 14, 2003, ESPN announced that Rush Limbaugh would be joining the show as a weekly commentator when it premiered on September 7. Limbaugh would provide the "voice of the fan" and was supposed to spark debate on the show. On September 28, Limbaugh commented about Donovan McNabb, the quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles:

"Sorry to say this, I don't think he's been that good from the get-go. I think what we've had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. There is a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn't deserve. The defense carried this team."

On October 1, 2003, less than one week after that comment, Limbaugh resigned from ESPN. The following Sunday on air Tom Jackson said about Limbaugh:

"Let me just say that it was not our decision to have Rush Limbaugh on this show. I've seen replay after replay of Limbaugh's comments with my face attached as well as that of my colleagues, comments which made us very uncomfortable at the time, although the depth and the insensitive nature of which weren't fully felt until it seemed too late to reply. He was brought here to talk football, and he broke that trust. Rush told us the social commentary for which he is so well known would not cross over to our show, and instead, he would represent the viewpoint of the intelligent, passionate fan. Rush Limbaugh was not a fit for NFL Countdown."


In February 2007, ESPN confirmed an earlier report in the Dallas Morning News that Michael Irvin would not be brought back to the show or to the network. On March 12, ESPN confirmed on its website that Michael Irvin's former teammate, Emmitt Smith would fill Irvin's chair, but that arrangement only lasted one season.[1] Keyshawn Johnson also joined the network and has served as an analyst for Countdown, among other programs.



Main Panelists[edit]

Secondary Panelists[edit]

Field Reporters[edit]

  • Greg Garber : (Correspondent, 1991–present)
  • Sal Paolantonio: (Correspondent, 1995–present)

NFL Insiders[edit]





  • Around the League: A segment where several live reports from gameday stadiums are received, including last-minute lineup changes and other assorted late-breaking gameday news.
  • Eye in the Sky: Plays are analyzed by various analysts.
  • Fantasy Tips: First introduced in 2006, this segment originally featured Ron Jaworski offering tips to the viewers about their fantasy teams for that week's games. This segment is now hosted by ESPN fantasy analyst Matthew Berry.
  • Field Pass (formerly known as Sunday Stretch): A segment where players are shown warming for their games.
  • The Mort Report: NFL "insider" Chris Mortensen breaks down trade rumors, coaching changes, injuries, and fake-news.
  • Special Look: (formerly, Playmaking Made Easy) During this segment, the hosts of the show diagram a specific football play on a large green floor resembling a football field with astroturf, and then act it out in slow-motion. The name apparently evolves with sponsorship (i.e. the "Playmaking made Easy" was used under Staples, "Special Look" is used under IBM).
  • Game Picks: Predictions on the day's game outcomes from the show's on-air personalities. In Week 5 of the 2015 season, Applebee's became the sponsor. Mobil 1 became the sponsor in the 2015 Week 13 schedule. Previously, it had been sponsored by Bank of America, but BoA resumed sponsorship during the 2015-16 postseason.
  • Late Hits: This is at the end of the show when Chris Mortensen delivers some final news and notes.
  • Most Dependable Player: A player who is the most dependable for his team is selected. It was originally called "Strong Player" in the 2014 season, but was changed to Most Dependable Player early in the season.
  • Pregame HQ: Introduced in the 2015 season, it's hosted by Mortensen and Schefter and is sponsored by Domino's. Mortensen has not appeared on camera during the 2016 season due to his battle with cancer.


  • Cold Hard Facts;: 12 questions were answered by Mortensen and Schefter.
  • Ditka's Doghouse: Ditka sent a player or team to his doghouse for a previous week's poor performance. In 2008, he sent a division (AFC West) and entire states (Ohio and Missouri) to the doghouse.
  • The Eliminator: Berman, Jackson and the rest of the crew picked a team to win the day's game. If the team one picked lost, he was eliminated. The rules were changed later on where one could only pick a team once a season.
  • Gamebreakers: This is at the very end of the show, when each analyst and Berman give two or three players they expect to have a big day. For the 2009 season, each analyst and Berman only give one player. In 2013, Keyshawn Johnson became the only analyst.
  • Inactives: Players who were active or inactive for the game were announced, normally around 11:30 ET. It was briefly sponsored by FanDuel during the 2015 season.
  • Inside the Numbers: Berman went behind the statistics to analyze a player or team. It was sponsored for many years by Visa.
  • Jam Session: former Atlanta Falcons running back Jamal Anderson interviewed a football player.
  • Line 'Em Up: two animated characters, Hector the Projector and Victor the Predictor, offered fantasy football tips.
  • The Mayne Event: Kenny Mayne hosted a segment that parodied human interest stories with a tie-in the NFL. Mayne announced that on Twitter that the segment had been canceled, at least for the 2013 season. It was not seen in 2014, nor has it not been aired in 2015 or 2016.
  • NFL 32: Segment featuring opinions from the NFL 32 crew.
  • No Huddle: Segment that had Berman asking questions to the analysts; each had either a minute, ninety seconds or two minutes to answer Berman's questions.
  • Open Mikes: This was a debate on a controversial subject(s) between analysts Michael Irvin and Mike Ditka and was hosted by Chris Berman.
  • Stop It!: Ditka was asked a question by an off-screen announcer that things that must be stopped in the NFL, such as chanting Tim Tebow's name while he was the back up quarterback. He was sometimes asked about non-sports news, like Kim Kardashian when her 72-day marriage to Kris Humphries ended in 2011. At the end of each response, Ditka said, "Stop It!"
  • Sunday Drive: Ron Jaworski provided an inside look inside one particular game, breaking down a key drive from start to finish.
  • Takin' It to the House: A segment that was hosted by ten-year-old Chicago resident Jason Krause.
  • Tip Drill: Berman gave a different analyst a quick question about certain games of the day.
  • "Where You At?: Introduced in 2012, this segment had Carter asking where certain players who had gone missing, than asked, "Where You At?". Early on, Jackson assisted Carter. In 2015, Carter singled out two players, Andrew Luck and Eddie Lacy.
  • Young is Restless: This quarterback-focused segment only came on occasionally. This is when Steve Young talked about in-depth stuff which happened that day.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]