Despite persistent rumors that Chris Berman was about to pull a Robert Irsay, the ESPN mainstay has put the Mayflower trucks on hold. On Monday, the network announced it has reupped Berman’s employment agreement, signing the anchor to a multiyear contract extension.
Terms were not disclosed. Berman’s contract had been set to expire on May 10, on his 55th birthday.
Earlier this year, reports suggested that Berman was being assiduously courted by the NFL Network and DirecTV. However far along those talks may have advanced, Berman today made no bones about wanting to stay put. “Home is where the heart is, and I am thrilled to be staying home at ESPN for years to come,” Berman said in a statement released by ESPN. “It’s been a privilege to work alongside my colleagues and an honor to be welcomed into the homes of sports fans for over 30 years. ... I can’t wait to continue the journey.”
Berman joined ESPN in October 1979, just one month after the upstart cable channel went live. Since then, he’s established himself as the face of ESPN.
Now that any questions about his future have been addressed, Berman will forge ahead as the anchor of ESPN’s National Football League studio coverage as host of Sunday NFL Countdown, Monday Night Countdown and the Monday Night Football halftime show. He will also continue to call the Major League Baseball Home Run Derby and golf’s U.S. Open.
“Chris has contributed so much to our company’s success in reaching sports fans for more than three decades, and we are thrilled that one of the most important figures in our history will remain a vital part of ESPN’s future,” said ESPN president George Bodenheimer.
Berman’s next big assignment is to run herd on ESPN’s coverage of the 2010 NFL Draft, which kicks off Thursday, April 22 at 7:30 pm EDT. (This year marks the first time the draft will air in prime time.) Berman has hosted ESPN’s annual telecast since 1987.