Chris Berman, one of the most visible faces of ESPN since its earliest days, will leave his familiar role as host of the network’s “Countdown” studio shows after the coming NFL season, according to reports Thursday night.
The Big Lead initially reported the news, saying that Berman would retire from ESPN. SI.com later confirmed that Berman would have a lesser role but said he might still make appearances on the network in 2017 and beyond.
The New York Times quoted Berman’s agent as saying that Berman is not retiring, but the quote did not specify whether he is not retiring from ESPN or from television in general.
Regardless, it appears Berman, 61, will at least be a diminished presence at ESPN when his contract expires after the coming NFL season.
That development would be in keeping with two recent trends at the network - the departures of big-name, high-priced on-air personalities and the radical makeover of the “Countdown” roster. Berman and his longtime wingman, Tom Jackson, are expected to be the only two holdovers when a new-look studio team debuts in 2016.
Trey Wingo and Suzy Kolber are among the presumed potential successors to Berman as NFL studio host.